Republican Pennsylvania State Senate President-Pro-Tempore Jake Corman joined “The Ingraham Angle” on Thursday – two nights after Keystone State voters approved two landmark state constitutional amendments curbing emergency powers of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and future executives.
For more than 13 months, Wolf largely acted alone in issuing socioeconomic coronavirus restrictions under his emergency powers, as well as via the state’s 1955 Disease Prevention and Control Act, which irked the legislature and many Pennsylvania businessowners affected by the lockdowns and the at-times abrupt nature of new, additional restrictions.
The first new amendment essentially provides the legislature the ability to end emergency declarations by majority vote, while the second requires the governor to return to the legislature to seek renewal of emergency orders at the 21-day mark.
Corman, R-Centre, told host Laura Ingraham that his branch, the legislative branch, is the “voice of the people” and that the Founders did not intend for a governor to wield such power, independent of the General Assembly.
“To be shut out for this period of time is unacceptable. It’s not what the framers had intended… I believe other states will follow,” he said.
Ingraham asked the Senate leader why it took so long for Pennsylvanians to curb Wolf’s powers, as it was one of several states like New York and New Jersey and California that have been under the most strenuous restrictions until late.
“We had to go the constitutional route,” he said. “We had passed a statute; the governor took us in court and we lost to a very liberal Pennsylvania Supreme Court. So we went to the constitutional amendment process … and it went on the main ballot in this primary and the voters overwhelmingly supported it. That’s a process we needed to do.”
Corman added that, with Wolf signaling a willingness to discuss the current emergency declaration, he looks forward to finally moving toward negotiation.
“The language is clear. We could end an emergency at any point in time, or after 21 days [the governor] has to come to the legislature for an extension … We needed to be at the table to have these discussions and be part of the process on how we govern Pennsylvania,” he said.
“We’ve already had some discussions with the governor. We are going to put our opinions on the table on this. If we don’t agree with the governor we will end the emergency. But hopefully, we can work together now.”
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the voters’ passage of the amendments doesn’t take any true power away from Wolf or a future governor:
“It brings back the balance of power by giving the people a say in how to manage their communities during emergency situations,” she said.
The weekend before the vote, anti-lockdown activists and community members also held a rally outside Lancaster, Pa., where speakers urged attendees to get out and vote in an otherwise low-turnout off-year primary election.
The constitutional amendments likely cannot take effect fully until the primary election is certified by Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenreid – who is expected to do so by June 7.