MEDIA, Pa. (CBS) — A group of Republican senators in Pennsylvania say Gov. Tom Wolf has been ignoring most input from the legislature. They’re now proposing limits on the governor’s power.
Republican legislators in Pennsylvania essentially want to take some of the governor’s power away, saying Wolf did not involve them in most decisions during the pandemic.
“There’s been no conversations,” state Sen. Tom Killion said.
Killion, who represents Chester and Delaware Counties, co-sponsored legislation that will soon be introduced that would only allow the governor to issue an emergency disaster for up to 30 days. After that, the governor would need legislative approval by the state Senate and House of Representatives.
“We’re all elected. We all have something to say. We all talk to our constituents everyday. We all have ideas that we’d like to have put on the table. We’re in this together,” Killion said. “They keep saying, we’re all in this together, let’s be in this together.
“Now is about time to talk about how to reopen our economy safely, and it can be done safely. When you think about the anxiety, the frustration, the fear that people are feeling, it’s because of the unknown. If we knew what the bogey was, what we needed to do to get to green we’d all feel a lot better and I think that is the role of the legislature.”
Democrats insist the legislation goes too far, saying voters gave the governor that power when he was elected into office.
“We have elections for a reason. We choose executive offices — whether you’re thinking president or governor — for times like this,” said Democratic state Rep. Joanna McClinton, who represents Delaware and Philadelphia Counties. “For good times when everything is well, but also for the worst-case scenario.”
But two months since Wolf shut down what he called nonessential businesses, some are now defying that order, like Giovanni’s Barber Shop in Media.
“We needed to flatten the curve. That was the original goal,” Nichole Missino, the barbershop’s owner, said. “We met that goal and now the governor is just not giving us any date when we can reopen.”
The Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Harrisburg, points out that other states have similar laws on the books that limit a governor’s authority.
“I really think in future crises, the governor will work more closely with the legislature,” Commonwealth Foundation Vice President Nathan Benefield said.
The legislation would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution so the measure will have to undergo a few extra obstacles before it becomes law. It must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and approved by voters through a ballot referendum.
That means if it passes, it could go into effect as early as spring 2021.
The governor’s office said in a statement, “The administration has had regular communication with all state and local government representatives, including weekly meetings with legislative leaders, throughout every step of the COVID crisis. Just as the administration worked with state and local officials on the implementation of the state’s mitigation tactics and closures, a similar process is in place for the reopening process.”