HARRISBURG – Stressing that Gov. Tom Wolf’s extended lockdown of Pennsylvania is hurting families and doing irreparable harm to employers, the House and Senate this week voted to approve a measure that would end the statewide shutdown, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford/Lycoming/Sullivan/Susquehanna/Union), Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union), and Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Lycoming).
As amended by the Senate, House Resolution 836 would end the executive order Wolf used to shut down businesses, which was issued in early March and renewed on June 3. The governor has used the emergency declaration to unilaterally change and suspend state laws, spend state and federal taxpayer dollars and prevent shuttered businesses from reopening with new safety measures in place.
As passed by the Legislature, the resolution would also allow companies in Pennsylvania to operate safely and consumers to use their services without the need for a business waiver process that has been roundly criticized by constituents and the media as being arbitrary and unfair.
In response to the bipartisan measure, the governor today stated that he alone can approve or disapprove the resolution, and further, that the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act. The governor said he was willing to spend taxpayer dollars to pursue legal action in order to maintain the disaster declaration.
In response to Wolf’s press conference today, Yaw, Everett and Wheeland issued the following remarks:
“The only purpose that the emergency declaration serves at this point is to keep more Pennsylvanians out of work, while Wolf continues to suspend statutes and spend taxpayer money as he sees fit without the oversight of the General Assembly,” Sen. Yaw said. “This is no longer an emergency, this has turned into an endurance for Pennsylvania. The evidence no longer supports restricting the rights of healthy individuals. If a business doesn’t want to open, don’t open. If you don’t want to patronize a business, then don’t patronize a business. If you’re afraid to go out of your house, then stay home. I have great faith in the citizens of my district and the citizens of Pennsylvania to make reasonable, rational and responsible decisions concerning COVID-19.”
“The state Supreme Court made it very clear in its earlier ruling on the governor’s shutdown order: The General Assembly has ‘the ability to terminate the order at any time,’” said Everett. “Week after week, when asked by the press about the credibility of his declaration, he responds, quote, ‘I’m not a lawyer.’ Well, the governor is also not a dictator. It is time he listens to both the Legislature and the Supreme Court and suspends his fight to keep this needless disaster declaration.”
“As the governor stated today, we have flattened the curve,” said Wheeland. “The disaster is over and therefore the need for any disaster declaration is over. The Supreme Court has made that clear. We gave the governor the power to shut down the state and we alone can take it away. It’s time for the governor to put politics aside and to hear the cries of millions of Pennsylvanians who are suffering due to his overextended mandates. He does not need to waste taxpayer dollars on a legal battle. He does not need to sign this resolution. We are ending the shutdown and we urge the governor to work with us to put Pennsylvania back to work.”