PA Voters First in Nation to Restrict Governor’s Emergency Powers

May 18 was primary election day in Pennsylvania. Key in this election were the ballot questions, two of which will change the way disaster emergency declarations work in the commonwealth. The two, separate ballot questions will insert into the Pennsylvania Constitution provisions that: (1) limit disaster emergency declarations to no more than 21 days; and (2) prevent the governor from issuing a new disaster emergency declaration “based upon the same or substantially similar facts and circumstances” without the passage of a concurrent resolution by the General Assembly expressly approving the new disaster emergency declaration. Results show that both ballot questions were passed to provide the power to the legislature, instead of the Governor. We do not know how soon after the election is certified that these new rules go into effect and what the outcome will be. On May 7, 2021, the governor renewed his Proclamation of Disaster Emergency due to the opioid crisis for 90 days. The Governor renewed the emergency declaration for another 90 days this week. The renewal carries with it the power to waive certain requirements, such as those that made visits via telehealth possible during the public health emergency. Click here for the election results.