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Our opinion: Wolf’s differing messages

Gov. Tom Wolf has done a nice job speaking out of both sides of his mouth over the last week.

From one side of his mouth, the governor is arguing in court that he should have veto power over legislative attempts to end his broad emergency power granted earlier this year. A gubernatorial veto is difficult to override given the makeup of the state Legislature, which means last week’s state Supreme Court decision means the governor will have his emergency authority far into the foreseeable future.

From the other side of his mouth, however, Wolf seems to be ceding some level of control to local governments.

“I want the local folks to feel confident that they have the ability to take control of the things that they have to control in their area,” Wolf told the Associated Press.

If he really felt that way, however, wouldn’t Wolf simply ask the legislature to pass legislation ending his emergency powers again and then sign it? If the governor wants local folks to feel confident they have the ability to control things in their respective areas of the state, why can’t he work collaboratively with the people’s elected representatives on policies that manage COVID-19 differently in densely populated areas compared to areas like Warren that aren’t as dense?

Why is this an issue, you may ask? We’d answer with another question — what, exactly, can local officials control without the state stepping in? They can add additional restrictions, not fewer restrictions. Therein lies the rub. If the control is only restrictive then it really isn’t control.

Rather than give the illusion of local control, we’d rather the governor just speak clearly. He won his fight with the legislature, and whether you like it or not, Wolf is the one calling the shots for the foreseeable future.

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