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Lawmakers not on board with court decision

Local lawmakers were less than enthusiastic over a state Supreme Court ruling this week rejecting a resolution to terminate Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus disaster declaration.

In the ruling, the high court rejected the argument that the Republican-controlled Legislature can unilaterally prevent the governor’s emergency powers by resolution.

“I think it’s unfortunate when politics come into law,” state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Pennsdale, said. “It is what it is. We will move on and try to find other ways to work with the governor.”

Everett noted that the declaration was made to flatten the curve of the spread of coronavirus, but he noted the governor should have gone through normal channels for making such decisions rather than unilaterally putting out declarations.

State Rep. Clint Owlett, R-Liberty, noted the governor wrongly acted in an authoritarian manner.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled against House Resolution 836 in a complete reversal of what the very same court said just a few months ago,” he said. ” If not a concurrent resolution, then how does a co-equal branch of government stop any governor from complete power? This was a sad week for our Commonwealth and good folks that we are trying to represent. When all branches of government are not working together, it’s the people that suffer.”

Everett said the state Legislature certainly has a right to terminate the governor’s disaster declaration.

Writing for the majority, Justice David Wecht emphasized that the court was not offering an opinion on Wolf’s response to the pandemic.

He noted the question was whether legislators could act without facing the governor’s veto.

The resolution “required presentment,” Wecht wrote, a key component of the Constitution’s balance of powers among the several branches of government, preventing one branch from dominating the others.”

Everett said, “Our goal was to end the one-person rule we have had since March.”

While acknowledging COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, he asked, “Are we going to be under martial law?”

Owlett said the issue could be revisited.

“We are looking at all options at this point,” he said.

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