HARRISBURG – The state Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment today that would promote greater cooperation in responding to emergencies by limiting the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by lawmakers, according to Senator Camera Bartolotta (R-46).
Senate Bill 2 would limit the length of an emergency declaration to 21 days unless the General Assembly approved a longer duration. It also clarifies that the legislature is not required to present a resolution ending the declaration to the governor for his consideration.
Under current law, a governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the governor indefinitely.
“Nothing in this bill prevents a governor from declaring an emergency or extending a disaster declaration when the need arises. It only seeks to bring together people who are willing to cooperate and collaborate to better respond to the needs of our communities,” Bartolotta said. “We represent the people of Pennsylvania and we are their voice. All our voices have been silenced since March 10. That is not how you govern.”
Bartolotta added that many of the flaws in the state’s response to COVID-19 were due to Governor Wolf’s go-it-alone approach that failed to include the perspectives of state and local officials and other experts. These problems included flawed guidance that negatively impacted long-term care settings, delayed Unemployment Compensation payments to displaced workers, and individual businesses and entire industries being shuttered longer than necessary.
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.
Senate Bill 2 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions before being put on the ballot for voters to decide. The measure was approved by the General Assembly in the previous legislative session.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463