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11/27/2021 04:31 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=36472
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: November 8, 2021 10:36 AM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Restoring Balance of Power in Executive Orders and Regulations
 
In recent years we have seen an increased willingness by the executive branch to circumvent the people of the Commonwealth.  When dealing with especially contentious issues, the use of executive orders and regulations have been employed to shut down debate and push policy by a Governor and their administration, in direct contrast to the intention of our founders.
 
From the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate and House of Representatives have worked to ensure that elected officials in all branches of state government followed the law and respected our Constitution’s designed balance of power which intentionally entrusted the process of lawmaking with the legislative branch.
 
Our form of government, and our Constitution, make it clear that neither the executive branch nor any unelected bureaucrat should ever have the unilateral and unchecked authority to issue open-ended orders or regulations.  To give such limitless discretion would elevate the executive branch’s power above the other two branches of our tripartite government.
 
Unfortunately, our sometimes vaguely written laws and a willingness by the judicial branch to expand the powers of the executive have led to an out-of-control situation that has left the people of this state largely silenced.  Throughout the pandemic, it has not been the passage of controversial legislation or gubernatorial vetoes that have led to disputes.  Instead, the General Assembly has had to contend with issue after issue advanced by the executive branch through order, proclamation, or regulatory action – absent any input from the people of Pennsylvania through their elected leaders. 
 
In fact, the current administration has issued 52 executive orders to date – compared to an average of just over 16 executive orders by the prior four administrations.  This continued effort by the executive to operate as a Regulatory State in direct contravention of our Constitution’s divisions of responsibility threatens the legitimacy of actions taken by our government and invites further erosion of a system that is dependent on respecting our specifically enumerated duties.
 
Our executive branch officials must practice restraint in countenance to the Constitution they swore an oath to support, obey and defend – even when that is difficult.  In a representative democracy, the protection for all people is in our processes.  Those processes may seem lengthy and full of legislative and regulatory roadblocks, but that is by design, so that no one person, authority or interest can outweigh the voices of the people. Therefore, any time steps in our processes are ignored for any reason, we are eroding the very fabric that holds our democracy together.
 
This package seeks to restore the voice of the people in their government’s decision-making process and reinforce the fragile balance of power as intended by our Constitution through two important amendments:
 
  1. Amending Article IV, to add a new Section providing that any executive order or proclamation issued by the Governor, which purports to have the force of law, may not be in effect for more than 21 days, unless extended by concurrent resolution of the General Assembly.
 

  1. Amending Article III, Section 9, to exempt the disapproval of a regulation by the General Assembly from the presentment requirement for the Governor’s approval or disapproval.
 
Our Constitution remains the steadfast guide our Commonwealth needs to navigate these difficult times. The divisions of power and checks and balances among our three branches of government are the very components of why free people allow themselves to be governed.
 
I intend to introduce both Joint Resolutions on November 12, 2021. Please join me in co-sponsoring these measures to help restore the fragile balance of power enshrined in our Constitution.
 



Document #1

Introduced as SB946

Description: This proposal amends Article IV to add a new Section providing that any executive order or proclamation issued by the Governor, which purports to have the force of law, may not be in effect for more than 21 days, unless extended by concurrent resolution of the General Assembly. 
 

Document #2

Introduced as SB947

Description: This proposal amends Article III, Section 9, to exempt the disapproval of a regulation by the General Assembly from the presentment requirement for the Governor’s approval or disapproval.