Gov. Wolf vetoes COVID-19-related bills, Republicans respond

Senate Bill 327 would authorize counties to develop their own mitigation plans, while House Bills 2388 and 2412 would authorize various industries to reopen in red phase counties

Gov. Tom Wolf vetod three bills related to the state’s response to COVID-19 that he said violate the separation of powers and make other changes that go against the administration’s measured plan for reopening the state safely.

Senate Bill 327 would authorize counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county can reopen, and includes a provision that prohibits commonwealth agencies from performing an essential governmental operation – the promulgation of regulations – until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency is terminated unless the legislature grants permission for a regulation to advance.

House Bill 2388 and House Bill 2412 would allow various industries to reopen in red phase counties.

“Since the beginning of this month, my administration has been gradually transitioning counties from the restrictive red phase to an intermediate yellow phase,” Wolf wrote. “The decisions to move counties from the red phase to the yellow phase are based on the advice of expert epidemiologists. These decisions are not based just on the number of cases of COVID-19, but are also based on other critical factors, such as how community members interact, the county’s number of potential transmission points, a county’s geographic location, the capacity to undertake contact tracing, and testing availability.”

Read the veto message for SB 327 here.

Read the veto message for HB 2388 here.

Read the veto message for HB 2412 here.

House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) issued the following statement in response to Wolf’s vetoes of House Bills 2412 and 2388 and Senate Bill 327:

“Gov. Wolf has made it clear; he does not support any alternative plans to reopen our state. While millions of Pennsylvanians watch their livelihoods evaporate, the governor continues to arbitrarily choose who can thrive and who will fail.

“Wolf has determined and proved that he alone shall have the ultimate power over our state’s future.

“These bills were passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate and with overwhelming positive response from Pennsylvanians in all corners of the Commonwealth.

“As the elected body closest to the people, it is our duty to represent their positions, and in this case, grievances with the current situation.

“We exist as equal branches of government, and our system is designed to promote checks and balances. However, our framers never intended one person to so openly oppose the will of the people as our current governor continues to do.”