State Rep. Jim Rigby, R-Ferndale, said he is co-sponsoring a Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee-drafted resolution that could compel Gov. Tom Wolf to terminate the Disaster Emergency Declaration now in place statewide for COVID-19.
Now dubbed House Resolution 836, the legislation will be brought before the full state house as soon as Wednesday, Rigby said, and must also be approved by a majority of the Pennsylvania Senate to force Wolf to terminate his current declaration.
Wolf has signaled he would veto the move.
According to the state Constitution, the governor has veto power over every “order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of both Houses may be necessary, except on the question of adjournment.”
Rigby said the legislation makes an important statement about the balance of power.
“I’ve been asked why the Legislature would send the governor a piece of legislation, knowing he would veto it ... in this case, knowing he could simply declare another disaster emergency," Rigby said. "The governor’s perceived ‘power’ is not absolute, and the General Assembly is a co-equal branch of government.
"If we feel it is the right thing to do, and have the votes to do it, moving House Resolution 836 and Senate Resolution 323 is something we must do.”
He noted that COVID-19 must be taken seriously – and that "this crisis is not over."
But the the state has also reached a "critical point" due to rising unemployment claims, an overwhelmed unemployment compensation system and an economy that cannot handle the stress.