Resolution aimed at forcing Wolf’s hand in reopening businesses appears headed to court

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)  Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania legislature say a resolution they passed Tuesday requires Gov. Tom Wolf to immediately lift his disaster declaration to allow businesses to reopen. But Wolf says not only does he have the final say on the declaration, he also says lifting it wouldn’t reopen anything.  

Republican State Rep. Russ Diamond says after the state House and Senate passed the resolution, it bypasses Wolf, and he is mandated by law to sign a proclamation lifting his emergency declaration.

“He has a choice. He can continue down the road, as some people call a dictator, or he can sign that proclamation and if he wants to continue to address COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, he can come work with his co-equal branch of government,” Diamond said. 

But Wolf points to the state constitution, saying the resolution needs his signature to become law. 

“Ending the disaster declaration would not reopen anything. It just wouldn’t. And anybody who says differently is wrong,” Wolf added. 

Wolf says that falls under orders signed by the Health secretary under the disease prevention act.

But he says lifting the disaster declaration would complicate the response to COVID-19 — for example, ending certain waivers, like allowing telehealth. 

Or, he says, it could affect unemployment compensation and food distribution for schools.

Republican lawmakers dispute that, and both sides say it’s headed for court.

When asked what rules businesses should be following right now, Pennsylvania General Counsel Gregory Schwab says the status quo remains in place.

“I think the status quo is in place as the governor has said, nothing has changed according to the phased reopening plan, the disaster proclamation remains in effect,” Schwab said.