Gov. Tom Wolf: New emergency declaration is 4th
A new 90-day statewide emergency declaration extending Governor Tom Wolf‘s emergency powers is the fourth such order since March 6, 2020. Wolf signed the order Friday. By the time the new order expires, the governor will have had almost total control of the state government for a full year.
He claims it is necessary to continue to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID-19 vaccinations have begun, but we are still in the early stages of vaccine administration,” Wolf said. “We will continue to prioritize a safe, efficient and equitable distribution process; and expect vaccinations to increase as the federal government makes more vaccine available to states.”
The ongoing declaration ensures the state’s access to federal pandemic relief, Wolf said. It allows agencies to respond faster to emerging outbreaks, he claimed, and improves vaccine administration.
“This renewal will allow the commonwealth to maintain its response; and support efforts as we continue testing, contact tracing and vaccination efforts to keep Pennsylvanians safe,” he said.
But it’s been a source of frustration for the Republican-controlled Legislature. Legislators claim Wolf uses the orders to justify unilateral and draconian pandemic restrictions without their input.
The strain grew so great that lawmakers advanced a constitutional amendment in just seven months to allow voters to decide the extent of the governor’s emergency powers. The referendum will appear on the May 18 primary ballot.
Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.