Last night, the legislature passed HR 836, a resolution that directs the Governor to terminate his disaster declaration. The legislature is now saying to people that the declaration has ended. This is not true. This needs to be signed by the Governor to take effect, and the Governor will obviously not sign this. Below is additional background as I am sure you may receive questions as to how this may impact your members and all professional licensees operating under one of the emergency waivers put into place by the Department of State under the authority of the Governor’s 3/6 Disaster Proclamation.
When the concurrent resolution is presented to him, as the Constitution requires, he will disapprove it. Until then, no action will be taken. The disaster proclamation has not been terminated by the House or Senate’s actions. Only the governor can terminate the disaster emergency.
That said, this resolution would not affect the Secretary of Health’s order including business closure orders, building safety orders, and business safety orders, and therefore the Administration’s phased reopening plan and associated orders would remain in place even if it passes.
Practically speaking, if the resolution becomes effective, the Governor must end the March 6, 2020 disaster proclamation, meaning that certain powers granted to him by law to effectively deal with the state’s response to the pandemic will end.
Legislative enactments tied specifically to the March 6, 2020 disaster proclamation, which were passed specifically to help Pennsylvanians and Pennsylvania businesses during the pandemic, may expire upon the termination of the COVID-19 disaster declaration. These include, among others:
- All Waived & Suspended licensing regulations across all 29 State Licensing Boards & Commissions housed within the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (a list of which can be found by following this link). The professional licensing regulatory structure would revert to a Pre-Covid-19 state.
- Unemployment Compensation eligibility requirements and employer relief from charges.
- Property tax relief.
- Educational tax credit waivers.
- Certification requirements under the public-school code and child protective services law.
Ending the declaration removes many practical aspects of the state’s response to this disaster, including the authority to activate the National Guard to help with nursing homes; deploying commonwealth personnel, services and distributing supplies and equipment; implementing emergency funding; suspending rules and regulations that would hinder or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency; and using all available resources of the commonwealth government and its political subdivisions to deal with the emergency.
The state may also lose federal public and individual disaster assistance, and any additional state funding sources available through transfer of unused General Fund dollars.
During a state of emergency declared by the governor, commonwealth agencies and departments may implement their emergency assignments without regard to procedures required by other laws pertaining to performing their work, entering into contracts, purchasing supplies and equipment, and employing temporary workers.
For additional background purposes here’s the references in PA Constitution:
Pa. Const. Art. III, § 9. Action on concurrent orders and resolutions.
Every order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of both Houses may be necessary, except on the question of adjournment, shall be presented to the Governor and before it shall take effect be approved by him, or being disapproved, shall be repassed by two-thirds of both Houses according to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a bill.