HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Senate has approved a resolution that terminates Gov. Tom Wolf's disaster emergency declaration.
However, the Senate also approved a bill to keep waivers of state regulations put in place because of the pandemic in effect through September 30, 2021, according to state Sen. Bob Mensch. These include the emergency authorization of telemedicine and temporary or extra staffing at nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
The state House of Representatives voted Tuesday to end the disaster declaration, by a vote of 113-90.
The vote to end the emergency declaration drew harsh criticism from some Democrats, but did get some bi-partisan support.
Democratic State Sen. Lisa Boscola voted in favor to end the emergency declaration and to extend the waivers, saying "as I cast these votes, I viewed my decision as an opportunity to de-escalate and de-politicize the rhetoric surrounding our response to the pandemic."
Democratic Gov. Wolf has no say in the fate of the resolution to end the declaration, but the bill to extend waivers will go to his desk for him to sign or veto. His office has said he will sign it.
Mensch says both the resolution and bill will go back to the House for consideration.
Pennsylvania voters during the May primary election approved constitutional amendments to impose restrictions on a governor's authority under an emergency disaster declaration.
“The emergency is over. Our hospitals are not overrun, successful vaccines are available and abundant, our schools are prepared to teach in person and Pennsylvanians are back to work. The time is now to end the declaration," Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) said in a statement Tuesday after the House approved the bill.
House Democratic leaders said the resolution would do nothing to help the state recover from the pandemic and would end protections that have helped state residents access services they need.