State Watch

Pennsylvania State Senate votes to override governor’s stay-at-home order

The Pennsylvania State Senate on Wednesday sent a bill that would partially lift the lockdown on most of the state’s businesses to Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) desk.

The measure, Senate Bill 613, would require the governor’s office to align with federal guidelines in determining which businesses will be allowed to reopen during the pandemic, allowing all those that can safely operate with mitigation strategies under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.

The measure passed the senate 29-21 Wednesday after passing the state House 107-95 Tuesday.

The Republican senate also approved a bill that would allow county governments to implement their own plans to reopen independent of the state’s plan.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee condemned the move, which comes the same day protesters in Michigan and Ohio demonstrated in favor of reopening without observing social distancing guidelines.

“The Pennsylvania GOP has a storied history of passing irresponsible legislation, but even I’m surprised they’ve stooped so low,” DLCC President Jessica Post said in a statement. “Republicans have sent the message loud and clear: they don’t care about Pennsylvania families or the lives that will be lost should this legislation become law. The GOP’s focus should be on saving lives, not saving the stock market.”

State Rep. Mike Jones (R) told WGAL, a local NBC affiliate, that the process by which businesses apply for waivers in the state lacked transparency.

“I think the waiver process has been extremely inefficient. We’re concerned it’s been very unfair. The problem is it’s also not been made public,” he told the outlet. “Those are the big three that virtually every other state in the nation, including many of the surrounding states, continue to operate, and it’s coming at the expense of our state.”

Wolf has not said whether he will sign the measure but has said he will consider it. Earlier this week he joined a compact of northeastern governors including the governors of Delaware, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut to develop a regional plan for reopening when it is deemed appropriate.

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