Pa. Senate votes to end disaster declaration

Written by on June 11, 2021

Pa. Senate votes to end disaster declaration

By Christopher Ayers / WESA

June 11, 2021

The Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Russ Walker / PA Post

The Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate voted June 10 to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. The resolution passed the house on June 8, and now goes back to that chamber for a final concurrence vote. 

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The measure does not require Gov. Wolf’s approval.

The Senate action follows the passage in May of a voter referendum that allows the legislature to unilaterally end disaster declarations.

The resolution was approved along near-party lines with one Democrat joining Republicans voting in favor.

Republicans argue ending the declaration restores a legislative role responding to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Democrats say the move could complicate the state’s ability to respond to a potential resurgence in COVID-19 cases. They also say it jeopardizes access to millions of dollars in federal emergency food aid for the state’s poorest families. 

In a separate vote, the Senate unanimously approved an extension through September of waivers issued by the Wolf administration. Those waivers have allowed government agencies and businesses to circumvent certain state regulations–for example, allowing greater access to telemedicine or giving businesses more time to pay taxes—during the pandemic emergency.

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