Debating the emergency declaration’s end

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A State House resolution passed Senate Tuesday night that would end Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration. But there was much debate Wednesday night over its legality.

“Ending the disaster declaration would not reopen anything. It just wouldn’t and anybody who says anything different is wrong. I’m going to continue to focus on reopening, recovery and managing the crisis at hand to the best of my ability. The goal is not being one of those 19 states that sees a spike in new cases,” Governor Wolf said.

Governor Wolf says state lawmakers can not end the declaration, only he can. The resolution is expected to go to the state Supreme Court. And the emergency declaration is still in place. Passionate pleas from both sides of the aisle.

Checks and balances. Livelihoods versus safety. The argument over House Resolution 836 continues. Eyewitness News reached out to both sides of the discussion as well as an academic opinion that we found at King’s College.

“It will be challenged. The Democrats will challenge it. The governor himself will challenge it and the Secretary of Health will challenge it,” King’s College associate professor of political science Dr. David Sosar said.

The Pennsylvania state legislature passing House Resolution 836 and the controversy soon followed. The measure calls for the end of the emergency declaration.

“In these actions that are so broad where you are taking away people’s livelihoods? Yes, we have to protect and save lives,” Senator John Yudichak said.

A legislative majority cite the state constitution, calling for a check of Governor Wolf’s power when it comes to the March 6th emergency declaration. Those who disagree urge caution as Pennsylvania reopens.

“I want to do it in a carefully measured way using the best science and the best data and particularly in that we do not have a vaccine,” Representative Maureen Madden said.

Everyone agrees we’re not out of the woods yet. The question is can the legislature shut down the governor’s order? Dr. Sosar says those for 836 don’t see it as everyday law.

“This isn’t legislation; so for us to stop it, we don’t need legislation. We are, just as representatives of the people, changing that course,” Dr. Sosar said.

Supporters of the bill say the declaration should be terminated immediately, but the governor refuses. This brings the judicial branch into the fold and Sosar says recent history means the resolution is likely to fail.

“We have found, within the Constitution, the governor’s dually written down duties as far as declaring this emergency with the COVID virus, so yes, most likely they would side with the governor on this particular case,” Dr. Sosar said.

That case of House Resolution 836 will likely face several rounds in state and federal supreme court. In that time, many believe the commonwealth could be almost completely in the green phase before there is a final determination.

There’s another resolution, Senate Bill 1166. It would keep emergency declarations to a 30-day cap. Dr. Sosar says between two legislative votes and getting onto an election ballot, it’s not something we’d see in action for another three to four years.

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