The Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly, according to Senator Joe Pittman, who strongly supported the bill.
Senate Bill 2 includes three proposed amendments to the State Constitution. The exact language of constitutional amendments must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions before going to the voters for final approval. If Senate Bill 2 is approved by the House of Representatives, the amendments could appear on the ballot as early as the upcoming Spring Primary Election.
“For nearly a year our Governor has been in charge by executive order. He’s told the people of Pennsylvania that they couldn’t buy a home, build a home and — for several weeks — that they couldn’t leave their home,” Senator Pittman said. “Through the unchecked powers granted by a succession of declarations, the Governor has unilaterally decided what businesses are life-sustaining and his orders have devastated our economy and killed jobs. His unwillingness to work with us meant that we must amend the state Constitution to restore a balance of power in state government.”
Currently, a Governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the Governor indefinitely. Under the constitutional amendment in Senate Bill 2 the emergency declaration would be limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves a longer duration.
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.
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