Republican leaders in the House and Senate informed Gov. Tom Wolf of their continued commitment to fight back against the scourge of opioid abuse in the commonwealth, but said those efforts don’t require an additional emergency declaration.
Wolf recently signed the 15th renewal of his January 2018 opioid disaster declaration. This will last 21 days, or until the General Assembly takes action to extend the declaration by Aug. 26.
In a letter to the governor, House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) highlighted the collaboration with medical professionals, first responders and others that has resulted in several laws aimed at saving lives.
“We believe that rather than renewing the disaster declaration for a 15th time, we assure you of our commitment to continuing our vital work in the weeks, months and years ahead,” the letter said in part.
Additionally, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) said that addressing the opioid crisis will be a top legislative priority for both majority caucuses in the fall.
“Far too many Pennsylvania families have felt the impact of this crisis personally and permanently, and this epidemic has not gone away and has only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Benninghoff. “Given that many of the benefits of the opioid disaster emergency declaration are now accomplished through other means, it is clear renewing the declaration is unnecessary. As it stands, many bills have been introduced to combat the opioid crisis and we plan to work collaboratively with the administration to make this a top legislative priority this fall.”
“The ongoing public health crisis brought on by opioid use continues to challenge the people and communities across Pennsylvania. While the actions taken to date by the Wolf Administration and the General Assembly are not lost, it is more important that we advance those actions in a more collaborative manner to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Ward. “The Pennsylvania Senate is committed to working with the Wolf Administration on a legislative agenda that will help to eradicate the opioid issue in the towns, cities and rural communities across our commonwealth. Allowing the emergency declaration to expire is not downgrading the importance of this issue. It is eliminating barriers, allowing government to work better together to help Pennsylvanians.”