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Our opinion: Senate’s decision is shortsighted

State Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-Jacobus, and Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, are on the money with a proposal to ban vaccine passports in Pennsylvania.

After all, New York’s Excelsior Pass doesn’t work on anything but the newest smart phone operating systems and the project is running millions of dollars over budget. Those who can get into the system have found it often doesn’t work as it is supposed to.

But Phillips-Hill and Ward should take the words of Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Bethlehem to heart when it comes to a late amendment to the vaccine passport ban that also strips the authority of the state Health Department to act unilaterally.

“Why are we doing this? Just because some people in this building don’t like Gov. Wolf, and that makes no sense to me,” Boscola said. “It’s clearly not the responsible thing to do.”

In our view, Gov. Tom Wolf’s behavior over the past year has invited proposals this one. Had he worked more collaboratively with legislative Republicans, perhaps the GOP wouldn’t be going after the governor so mercilessly now. Had the governor been more willing to admit when a decision made little common sense and adjust accordingly, perhaps Republicans wouldn’t be so determined to exact political retribution now.

Still, stripping the Health Department’s authority to act on its own in a time of emergency is a step too far. In our opinion the legislature would have been within its authority to require periodic reporting to the legislature and legislative approval of extensive emergency declarations — like it has done with Wolf.

The Senate’s decision seems shortsighted and primed to become a problem in the future.

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