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Vote no on limiting emergency powers

Over 26,000 Pennsylvanians have died from COVID-19 and Gov. Tom Wolf and his administration have been working tirelessly to reduce the death toll and support Pennsylvanians battered by the virus. It hasn’t been easy on anyone.

Much has been made of the constraints the governor put on businesses, including closing bars, limiting indoor dining, mask requirements, and other restrictions taken to drive down the virus and save lives.

These were difficult actions, but they saved lives.

Much less talked about, but perhaps more valuable, were actions that increased food assistance, provided utility assistance, increased unemployment insurance, offered eviction protection and many other services to those who lost jobs.

The governor quickly moved resources to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and other agencies to cope with the pandemic.

But the Republican legislature would like to limit what he can do.

Voters will soon be faced with two constitutional amendments that would limit the governor’s emergency powers to a ludicrously short three weeks, after which the General Assembly could either reauthorize, terminate or assume those emergency powers.

Are we to believe a General Assembly that cannot pass a budget on time will act quickly enough in an emergency to pass all the legislation needed to react during an emergency?

Or that they will quickly authorize the Department of Health the resources needed to cope with the next pandemic? Or that they can predict the next emergency and pass legislation proactively?

Color me skeptical.

Much like the president is empowered to act during wars and national emergencies, we need a governor with the power to act quickly in an emergency — one who is accountable to all the citizens, not legislators beholden only to their party.

Vote no on Ballot Questions 1 and 2 the Emergency Declaration Constitutional Amendments.

Helen Sheehy

Tyrone

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