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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 17, 2020 12:59 PM
From: Representative Russ Diamond
To: All House members
Subject: Termination of the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency
Section 7301 of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Services Code defines the Governor’s authority to declare a disaster emergency. On March 6, 2020, the Governor issued a proclamation declaring a disaster emergency in response to the existence of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth.

Section 7301(c) also states that “The General Assembly by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time. Thereupon, the Governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.”

As such, I intend to introduce a concurrent resolution to terminate the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency, if the need arises.

I offer this resolution not because I believe there is no cause for a unified statewide response to COVID-19, but because I believe the General Assembly, as a co-equal branch of government, should be prepared to act quickly on all contingencies as this situation continues to unfold.

The public communications efforts related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts on Monday, March 16, 2020 left much of Pennsylvania’s citizenry confused and frightened, and blindsided our business community. The situation across our Commonwealth is changing rapidly on a daily basis, and sometimes changing on an hourly basis.

The Executive branch is not hampered by the same stepped process and time requirements the General Assembly has in place, even given the shortened timelines offered by temporary House rules which were adopted on March 16, 2020.

While Section 7301 defines the Governor’s authority, some decisions made by the Executive will be judgment calls. Our duty as a co-equal branch of government is to serve as a check on that authority in case that judgment creeps into overreach or violates the rights of Pennsylvania citizens. By having a termination resolution ready to go, we will be prepared to act if that occurs.

I urge you to join me in cosponsoring this resolution to so we can act as quickly as possible if we need to. It is my greatest hope that we don’t.

Introduced as HR836