One of the more substantive debates in the PA Senate this summer has been over Senate Bill 1166, which was designed to put a limit on the length of an emergency in Pennsylvania that was declared by the Governor. One of the big supporters of that bill has been Sen. David Argall (R-Berks, Schuylkill).
“The basic fact is that the people of Pennsylvania elect representatives. They elect senators. They elect a governor. They don’t elect a king,” Argall explained to me during a visit to his Capitol office this past week. “We’re all supposed to be in this together in this difficult time. We understand this is a very serious emergency but we believe that the law should say that an emergency can’t last forever and that no governor—not this governor, not the next governor, not the one after that—should be able to continually extend the emergency time after time after time.”
The General Assembly passed that measure as a bill but the PA Supreme Court said that lawmakers could not do that. They then went the route of a constitutional amendment.
“The governor doesn’t get to veto constitutional amendments,” Argall said. “It has to pass the House and Senate. That has been done. It will have to pass the House and Senate again after the November election. Then it goes on the ballot and I believe the people of Pennsylvania will approve that.”
The measure has gotten at least some measure of bipartisan support in both chambers.
“We did four public hearings across the state, looking at the economy, Argall said. “People are hurting. This idea that you need to close down restaurants and bars in counties with no cases…don’t blame them for what’s happening in Miami or Pittsburgh or Philadelphia….This one man determining all the rules, and then telling the rest of the state what to do, ignoring the House, ignoring the Senate, ignoring the public, ignoring the local governments—we believe that’s just wrong.”