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09/22/2021 02:40 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=36153
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: September 1, 2021 01:06 PM
From: Senator Judy Ward and Sen. Patrick J. Stefano, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Constitutional Amendment: Clarifying Powers of Health Secretary
 
In the near future, we plan to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to make absolutely clear that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.
 
In May, voters sent Governor Wolf a clear message when they voted to clarify that the Legislature can end or extend emergency declarations. They communicated their opinion that one person should not make unilateral decisions that affect 13 million Pennsylvanians in no uncertain terms. 
 
Yet, despite the end of the emergency declaration relating to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, the Governor and Acting Secretary of Health have issued a new masking mandate on all Pennsylvania students -- predicated upon the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.  This mandate reneges on a promise he made publicly known that he would not impose any additional statewide mandates but instead allow mitigation decisions to be made at the local level.
 
We agree with the majority of Pennsylvanians that the most effective way to preserve public health is to encourage decisions to be made locally. Our communities are not facing the same COVID-19 challenges, and to act as if they are does everyone a disservice. We must be calculated and thoughtful instead of making wide-sweeping decisions.
 
Therefore, our amendment will retake local control by clarifying that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.
 
During the 2021 Primary, Pennsylvanians sent an unmistakable message that the ongoing management of emergency declarations must have legislative buy-in.  Once again, the executive branch has bypassed the General Assembly and the Governor has betrayed his promise of local control to Pennsylvania. 
 
Please join us in co-sponsoring this Constitutional Amendment to thwart future statewide mandates and allow mitigation decisions to be made at the local level.