After one year and 96 days, the state of Pennsylvania has seen the end of the declaration that it is under a COVID-19 disaster emergency.
State Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint, stated, “Responding to the will of the voters, I was proud to vote with the majority of my colleagues this week to fully terminate the governor’s COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration. The measure was also approved by the Senate Thursday and is effective immediately.”
House Resolution 106 terminates the pandemic emergency declarations and ends the governor’s power to close employers, limit occupancy, suspend state statutes or issue stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
“The people have decided that we have the ability to withdraw the emergency declaration,” Sen. Cris Dush, R-Brookville, stated Thursday. “My constituents have spoken loudly that they want this over. So today, we are answering the call of our people. God bless them and God bless our Commonwealth.”
Following the vote Thursday, the action immediately went into effect. This is a result of the statewide ballot referendums passed on May 18, which led to the passing of Constitutional amendments that give the General Assembly the authority to end the declaration through a simple majority vote.
Causer explained, “The COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration has been in place since March 6, 2020, and has been renewed five times. At the May 18 primary election, a majority of voters supported amending the state Constitution to limit the duration of a governor’s emergency declaration without input of the General Assembly and to authorize the Legislature to terminate (or extend) a governor’s emergency declaration by majority vote and without the governor’s signature.”
The state Senate also approved House Bill 854, which will ensure all waivers that were previously active under the COVID-19 emergency will remain in effect until Sept. 30, unless the waiver is terminated by the authority which initially authorized it. This protects access to critical federal funding and waivers that benefit health and safety, such as the emergency authorization of telemedicine, temporary staffing at nursing homes and personal care homes and other staffing issues in healthcare facilities.
House Bill 854 was approved by the House of Representatives and will be sent to the governor for enactment.
In addition, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved numerous resolutions and bills intended to help with economic recovery.
Those measures included the following to help the economy:
— passed House Bill 854 to provide for regulatory flexibility related to COVID-19.
— advanced House Bill 508 to end federal enhanced unemployment compensation benefits.
— advanced House Bill 1182 to allow barber programs to offer up to 50% of the program through online or remote instruction.
— advanced House Bill 1183 to allow cosmetology programs to offer up to 50% of the program through online or remote instruction.
— advanced Senate Bill 434 to change the “sell by” date on milk to “best by.”
“Pennsylvania’s employers and small business job creators have told us the thing they need to recover from the pandemic is for the government to get out of the way,” House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, said. “This week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives led on economic recovery by ending the destructive COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration, ensuring Pennsylvania is being responsibly managed through the remainder of this pandemic, and looking toward the future by creating new opportunities.”