Senate Approves Constitutional Amendment Limiting Disaster Declarations

HARRISBURG – The state Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly, according to Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), who supported the bill.

Senate Bill 2 includes three proposed amendments to the State Constitution.

The exact language of constitutional amendments must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions before going to the voters for final approval. If Senate Bill 2 is approved by the House of Representatives, the amendments could appear on the ballot as early as the upcoming Spring Primary Election.

“The current emergency declaration has been in place for more than ten months now,” Sen. Yaw said.  “During that time, the blanket authority given to the Executive Branch under this declaration has been used to change and suspend state laws, prevent shuttered businesses from reopening with safety measures in place, and spend state and federal taxpayer dollars with no oversight or input from the legislature.  The damage resulting from Governor Wolf’s flawed, unilateral decision-making will impact our communities for years to come. We need to make sure that no future governor can ever ignore the will of the people again.”

Currently, a Governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the Governor indefinitely. Under the constitutional amendment in Senate Bill 2 the emergency declaration would be limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves a longer duration. The change would apply only to future emergency declarations.

Senate Bill 2 also provides for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity, bringing the Pennsylvania Constitution in line with the U.S. Constitution.

For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.


Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff

(717) 787-3280

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