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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 6, 2020 07:16 PM
From: Senator Doug Mastriano
To: All Senate members
Subject: Legislative Oversight & Input on Emergency Actions.
I intend to introduce a concurrent resolution to enhance legislative oversight and input on emergency actions, including the ongoing COVID-19 Disaster Emergency.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, the General Assembly (as a co-equal branch of government) should be prepared to act quickly on all contingencies.

The situation across our state is changing rapidly on a daily basis, and sometimes changing on an hourly basis.

Unfortunately, actions taken by the administration blindsided our business community, and left much of Pennsylvania’s citizenry confused and frightened.

There has been an overall lack of clarity.

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.”

While Section 7301 defines the Governor’s authority, some decisions made by the executive branch are judgment calls.

Even though the Governor has the authority to act swiftly in an emergency, timely and regular input from the General Assembly is critical to making informed decisions.

In our districts, we are closer to businesses and can better gauge the impact of an emergency action.

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 this concurrent resolution ready to go, we will be prepared to act if that occurs.

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

I am partnering with State Rep. Russ Diamond in offering this concurrent resolution. If you have any questions about this concurrent resolution, please contact my office.

Introduced as SR323