Our opinion: Giving back the power

Pennsylvania state legislators aren’t waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on a legal challenge filed by businesses challenging Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 business closures.

Legislators have taken the matter into their own hands, voting Tuesday to approve House Resolution 836. The legislation would effectively end Wolf’s disaster declaration, directing him to issue an order to that effect. State Rep. Kathy Rapp, R-Warren, said the Pennsylvania Constitution gives the General Assembly authority to end a state of disaster emergency by passing a concurrent resolution through the Assembly and Senate, but of course things aren’t that simple.

Multiple media outlets report that Wolf intends to disapprove the resolution — he can’t veto a concurrent resolution — which could set up a legal battle over whether Wolf has to comply with the General Assembly’s directive.

He should comply.

The use of statewide directives that apply equally to counties hit hard by COVID-19 and those left relatively unscathed by the virus reeks of overreach. Decisions about which businesses can open and which can’t, as well as the limits placed on occupancy for businesses that have opened, often seem arbitrary and without much basis in science or logic.

What’s more, the longer the disaster declaration is in place, the longer the voices of many Pennsylvanians are silenced in the Pennslylvania statehouse because the governor’s expanded powers come at the expense of legislators who no longer have a say in the state’s governance.

Pennsylvanians throughout the state deserve to have a voice in how they live, and that voice is with their elected state representatives.

Governing is the art of managing differing opinions. Governors who refuse to give up their emergency powers aren’t governing — they’re dictating. That’s not how government in the United States is supposed to work.


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