‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration

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‘We can’t do this for another 90 days’: Pa. General Assembly votes to end COVID-19 emergency declaration

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to disapprove a bipartisan resolution to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.Wolf will address the resolution Wednesday afternoon. Click the video player above to watch LIVE starting at 1 p.m. He is expected to explain his thoughts on how the resolution would hamper the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic if it were to take effect.Pennsylvania’s General Assembly debated the resolution last night, passing it 31-19 in the state Senate and 121-81 in the state House.Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon County), introduced the legislation, saying his business has shut down and that too many people have lost their jobs.“We can’t do this for another 90 days,” said Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta, whose districts cover parts of Beaver, Washington and Greene counties. “We can’t do this for another 90 minutes.”Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny County) spoke out against the bill, saying it will jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.On Wednesday, a press release from Wolf’s Administration said the following: “Last night, the General Assembly voted to end the disaster declaration with many members claiming their actions ended the business guideline orders. That is not true. Not only does any concurrent resolution need to come to the Governor for approval or disapproval, but the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act that include provisions for business reopening and for worker and building safety. Those orders remain in place. The legislature did nothing to end those.”Wolf said if the declaration were to end, the following protections would go away: Burdensome eligibility requirements for more than a million Unemployment Compensation claimants would immediately go back into effect, and employers across the commonwealth would no longer receive relief from charges. Certification requirements under the public-school code and child protective services law would end.A school meal eligibility waiver, which has allowed more than 300 meal sites to open for distribution of food to school-age children in need, would end.Telehealth and other health care services provided by out-of-state providers for Pennsylvanians would end.Utility assistance for thousands of families and individuals would end, leaving people without water or electricity. Hospitals and alternative care sites would no longer be able to add capacity or repurpose facilities (i.e., beds) without having to abide by the 60-day notice requirement. License renewal and training requirement suspensions for health care professionals, child care workers, direct care workers, direct support professionals, among other professional groups who provide life sustaining services to our children, seniors, and vulnerable residents would end, meaning all of these workers would need to choose between not returning to work until those credentials could be renewed or trainings completed and the option of returning to work with the understanding that they are practicing out of compliance with Pennsylvania law and regulation, very well opening themselves up to personal liability. PennDOT waivers for commercial motor vehicle weight limitations and permitting requirements for the transport and delivery of agricultural feed, food, and dairy products, fuel, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies to assist in supply chain challenges would end and motor carriers would be restricted in their ability to directly assist in supporting emergency relief efforts necessary to respond to the pandemic. Mortgage foreclosure and eviction moratoriums that offer protection to vulnerable Pennsylvanians at risk of losing their homes during the pandemic would end.The state could also lose federal public and individual disaster assistance, and any additional state funding sources available through transfer of unused General Fund dollars, Wolf said.

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to disapprove a bipartisan resolution to end Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Wolf will address the resolution Wednesday afternoon. Click the video player above to watch LIVE starting at 1 p.m.

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He is expected to explain his thoughts on how the resolution would hamper the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic if it were to take effect.

Pennsylvania’s General Assembly debated the resolution last night, passing it 31-19 in the state Senate and 121-81 in the state House.

Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon County), introduced the legislation, saying his business has shut down and that too many people have lost their jobs.

“We can’t do this for another 90 days,” said Republican Sen. Camera Bartolotta, whose districts cover parts of Beaver, Washington and Greene counties. “We can’t do this for another 90 minutes.”

Sen. Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny County) spoke out against the bill, saying it will jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

If Governor Wolf were to disapprove the resolution, that would effectively be a veto. However, it could lead to a possible court challenge.