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Yaw says state now moving forward

A local lawmaker has declared Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent renewal of the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration as the first step in returning checks and balances to the state’s long-term emergencies.

“We are now operating under the rules established when the people of Pennsylvania voted to amend the state Constitution,” state Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township said. “The General Assembly is now receiving information from Gov. Wolf that had previously not been shared. That information allows us to make better informed decisions as we move forward to implement the will of the people.”

The state’s voters in the primary election passed two amendments to the state Constitution designed to improve the way the state responds to future emergencies, according to Yaw.

One limits an emergency declaration to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves a longer period. The other restricts the governor from unilaterally preventing a declaration with veto action.

Wolf repeatedly faced criticism from Republican lawmakers over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The earliest the state Legislature can begin the process of ending Wolf’s disaster declaration will be after the primary election results are certified.

Wolf has indicated the disaster declaration offers more flexibility for services and benefits, including elimination of the waiting period for jobless compensation, allows patients to receive health care remotely and for state emergency personnel to leverage federal funding.

The governor’s recent action comes at a time when the state has managed to fully vaccinate 50 percent of its adults and infection rates and hospitalizations from coronavirus continue to drop.

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