HARRISBURG, PA – Reports say that Pennsylvanians have voted to establish new limits on Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency powers after Republican lawmakers introduced state constitutional amendments in response to his handling of the pandemic.
The vote took place during Pennsylvania’s statewide primary ballot on Tuesday, and the approval of the constitutional amendments by voters will give the state’s Republican-controlled Senate and House a great deal more power over the application of disaster declarations, ranging from pandemics to natural disasters.
The amendments will go into effect as soon as the state certifies the election result, which could be as early as June.
Governor Wolf’s handling of COVID-19 – including mandatory business closures, mask-wearing, and remote home schooling – has been repeatedly criticized by the GOP since the start of the pandemic.
Republicans are seeing Tuesday’s amendment-approving vote as a victory that will likely give them momentum heading into 2022, when Wolf will be leaving office after having served two terms, leaving the race for the Governorship wide-open for all comers.
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday that the vote indicated voters did not approve of Wolf’s “overreach” and his “failed” response to the pandemic.
“Last night, Pennsylvanians voted to reject Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s overreach of executive powers after his failed COVID response — a clear sign of accountability coming in 2022,” she said.
Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas echoed McDaniel’s comments, via a statement.
“Last night, Pennsylvanians voted to end the lockdown, restart our economy, reopen our schools, and put a stop to Governor Tom Wolf’s dictatorship,” he said. However, as of press time, the majority of Wolf’s COVID-19 restrictions have already been lifted, with the only ones remaining in-place are crowd capacity – which is slated to end on May 30 – and a mask-wearing order for unvaccinated residents that will cease when 70 percent of the adult population of Pennsylvania have been inoculated.
The three months prior, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – following a series of mounting scandals – was stripped of his COVID-19 emergency powers as well by the state legislature.