HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Pennsylvania state legislature voted Tuesday to revoke Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency order that shut down the state’s economy for over three months. Lawmakers say it means business is back open as usual, but the governor says not so fast.
Lawmakers in Harrisburg say the governor is acting too slowly in reopening the state’s economy. While the governor admits he’s acting cautiously, he says he’s following the science.
“We have to stay focused on recovery and hat ultimately is what’s going to help businesses,” Wolf said.
A defiant Wolf responded to lawmakers’ attempt to reopen the state by voting to rescind his state of emergency.
“The choice we have is whether we prioritize safety by reopening carefully with precautions in place, or whether we just create chaos and confusion through carelessness,” Wolf said.
On Tuesday, in a bipartisan vote, the legislature voted to rescind the governor’s shutdown orders. It has been in place since March 6 and was extended multiple times.
“We represent the people. We have the opportunity to make this right and we should do it tonight,” Republican Rep. Bryan Cutler, of Lancaster County, said.
Lawmakers say by reopening the state, more people will be able to get back to work. But the governor says if his emergency declaration is rescinded, many protections for businesses, workers and residents would also be rescinded.
The political wrangling comes as the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services announced a one-month extension of the emergency assistance program. It also comes as businesses continue to reopen.
“It has been devastating for our industry to have to completely close down, put our employees out of work,” said Justin Weathers, owner of The Bercy in Ardmore.
As of June 5, The Bercy has been able to offer outdoor dining but that’s only at 15% of their capacity. Weathers says reopening is like relearning to do business all over again.
“Anyone that says their business is going to operate at 20% of its previous capacity has to know you cannot do it in the same way as when you opened at 100% two years ago,” Weathers said.
The Pennsylvania State Senate was also set to vote Wednesday to amend the constitution. It would limit the governor from enacting an emergency declaration to just 30 days. It would also require the legislature, not the governor, to extend that declaration.