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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 31, 2021 03:53 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin
To: All Senate members
Subject: Secretary of Health Emergency Powers
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation clarifying that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.
On May 18, 2021, Pennsylvanians responded to more than a year’s worth of unilateral governance by executive fiat and confusing guidance from Department Secretaries. Citizens ultimately chose to return to a system of checks and balances, with science-driven policy decisions and better communication, by voting in favor of a Constitutional Amendment authored by Majority Leader Ward, Senator DiSanto and myself.
Despite the intent of that amendment, the Secretary of Health has continued to argue that she has the ability to issue emergency mandates regardless of whether an official emergency declaration is in place. My legislation would clarify this misunderstanding by amending the cited authority as claimed by the Secretary in both the Administrative Code as well as the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.
Pennsylvanians sent an unequivocal message to the Executive Branch of our Commonwealth’s government during the most recent Primary, and bypassing their intent by taking emergency actions, without declaring an emergency, is unacceptable. Please consider joining me in co-sponsoring this legislation so that we can make that message clear.