Pennsylvania voted to amend its Constitution on May 18, 2021 in response to their governor’s use of emergency declarations to decide laws during the pandemic. As more than two million Pennsylvanians voted in a primary election, they passed two constitutional amendments in ballot questions to restrict the governor’s emergency declaration powers to give some power back to the legislature.
Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Brian Cutler told The Epoch Times that he is glad people voted and had their voice heard. “Ultimately, our Constitution is clear. The people are the ones who are sovereign and give government the power. And I think we saw that result yesterday on the elections,” he said.
The first proposed constitutional amendment, called the Legislative Resolution to Extend or Terminate Emergency Declaration Amendment, sought to allow the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass a resolution to extend or terminate the governor’s emergency declaration by a simple majority that cannot be vetoed by the governor.
Currently, the Pennsylvania Constitution allows the governor to veto the legislative’s resolution to terminate an emergency declaration. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf last year signed four consecutive 90-day pandemic emergency measures; the first emergency declaration was signed in March 2020 after the first two presumptive positive cases of the CCP virus in Pennsylvania.
His veto then withstood a legislative challenge that failed to secure the two-thirds majority vote needed to end governor’s disaster declarations.
The May 18 amendment passed with 52.97 percent support from Pennsylvanians.
The second amendment, the Emergency Declaration Amendment, proposed limiting the governor’s emergency declarations to a 21 day period unless the legislature votes on a concurrent resolution to extend the order and passes laws related to how disaster emergencies must be managed.
This amendment also passed on May 18 with 52.93 percent support from Pennsylvanians. Before the vote, emergency declarations could be issued for up to 90 days and extended without limit.
BY LILY SUN