Questions about emergency declaration changes on Tuesday’s primary ballot

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Voters will be heading to the polls on Tuesday in the primary election.

Along with voting for local and state offices, they will vote on changes to the state’s constitution. Eyewitness News has more as the governor’s office made a stop in Lackawanna County.

Pennsylvania voters will decide on four questions on Tuesday’s Primary Election Day ballot. Two of those questions are focusing on future disaster emergency declarations issued by a governor.

“It shouldn’t be up to one person. I believe it should be up to the people, really,” Sal Pizzo of Throop said.

Pizzo says he will vote “yes” to the amendment. If the majority of Pennsylvanians agree with Pizzo, then the power shifts. The general assembly would be able to terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration without having the governor’s approval, as current law deems.

The second question would limit a governor’s emergency declaration to 21 days, forcing the governor to seek approval from lawmakers to extend a declaration.

Pizzo is basing his vote on Governor Wolf’s decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I could see what happened when he made his decisions. It just caused a lot of people to go out of business,” Pizzo said.

“These impacts of these amendments should not be viewed solely through the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as they have far-reaching impacts for all future disasters regardless of the cause,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said.

Padfield made a stop in Scranton Thursday, discussing the flexibility he says is needed for emergency declarations to make quick decisions for communities in need.

“The current law prohibits disaster declarations to extend 90 days from the day of issuance. Which has never been challenged previously and has worked well for every disaster declaration since being instituted in the 1970s,” Padfield said.

“I would definitely vote no to it because I can’t believe that 250 can make up their mind fast enough to get something done that might be an emergency situation,” Mike Macedonio of Scranton said.

Macedonio says in an emergency, one person making a decision is better than hundreds.

“Basically I think he would be more knowledgeable of what’s happening and make a faster assessment,” Macedonio said.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday May 18th.

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