HARRISBURG – The House today approved legislation by State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-Dover) to reign in unchecked executive power through constitutional amendment.
“House Bill 55
would improve cooperation between the executive branch and the Legislature in responding to emergencies by limiting the length of emergency disaster declarations unless approved by the General Assembly,” Grove said.
The measure would ensure residents have a greater influence on emergency declarations by limiting declarations to 21 days. The declaration could be extended with approval of the House and Senate. Currently, a governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the governor indefinitely.
“What we have seen over nearly a year is one person making all the decisions, which impact the nearly 13 million residents of the Commonwealth, in regard to the state’s response to the pandemic,” Grove said. “The only input the Legislature was permitted to have in the matter were bills, most of which were vetoed by the governor, in response to actions he already took. The General Assembly should not be limited to being a reactionary board that merely attempts to advise the governor on actions he unilaterally decided to take.”
Also, on Wednesday, the House State Government Committee approved the Senate companion bill to Grove’s bill. In addition to limiting the timeframe of a declaration, Senate Bill 2
also would clarify that the Legislature is not required to present to the governor for his approval a resolution ending an emergency declaration.
The General Assembly approved last session a similar bill. Should House Bill 55 or Senate Bill 2 be approved again this session, the question would be put forth to voters, potentially as soon as the primary election.
Representative Seth Grove
Pennsylvania House of Representatives