By: Don Shaw email: don.shaw@pennsylvaniachronicle.com (570) 543-2961

Tom Wolf: Legislature Cannot End Disaster Declaration Unilaterally

Tom Wolf: Legislature Cannot End Disaster Declaration Unilaterally

Harrisburg, PA

Governor Wolf appears poised to defy the legislature’s voting to end his emergency declarations saying, “Disaster declaration is separate from Secretary of Health business guideline orders.”

Today, the Wolf Administration outlined the what calls the potential impact of ending the March 6 disaster declaration while clarifying that the legislature cannot end it unilaterally. The Administration says the  disaster declaration aids in speeding up the state’s response to the pandemic and provides protections for businesses, workers and residents. Wolf claimes ending the disaster declaration would not end any orders issued by the Secretary of Health that set guidelines for business operations.

“Last night, the General Assembly voted to end the disaster declaration with many members claiming their actions ended the business guideline orders. That is not true. Not only does any concurrent resolution need to come to the Governor for approval or disapproval, but the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act that include provisions for business reopening and for worker and building safety. Those orders remain in place. The legislature did nothing to end those. Rather, the legislature chose to attempt to end the disaster declaration – a measure that would ostensibly end protections passed for businesses, workers, and residents.”

The state could also lose federal public and individual disaster assistance, and any additional state funding sources available through transfer of unused General Fund dollars  officials say.

During a state of emergency declared by the governor, commonwealth agencies and departments may implement their emergency assignments without regard to procedures required by other laws pertaining to performing their work, entering into contracts, purchasing supplies and equipment, and employing temporary workers.