Pa. House draws up legislation on governor’s pandemic powers

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Republican floor leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Monday proposed keeping in place some parts of Gov. Tom Wolf’s coronavirus disaster declaration until October, but ending fast-track contracting rules and other provisions much sooner.

Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff of Centre County introduced a concurrent resolution under constitutional amendments that voters approved last week that give lawmakers much more power over disaster declarations.

Benninghoff’s resolution aims to halt the use of no-bid contracts, force those getting jobless benefits to look for work and end social distancing mitigation orders.

The four-page resolution would require approval by the full House and Senate, but does not need the governor’s signature to take effect. It would extend the disaster emergency until Oct. 1 except, for specific parts it aims to repeal.

Mitigation orders are currently being phased out, and on Monday Wolf’s acting labor secretary outlined a schedule for resumption of job search requirements.

Wolf’s office offered no immediate comment, but has said repeatedly that measures designed to limit the spread of the virus are unaffected by the constitutional amendments because they are authorized under powers given to the health secretary.

The House State Government Committee was expected to take up the proposed resolution on Tuesday.

Legislative Republicans leveraged their majorities to hasten passage of a pair of constitutional amendments to limit the governor’s powers under a disaster emergency declaration.

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