Pennsylvania lawmakers prepare to keep pandemic waivers for another 6 months
The delta variant of the coronavirus is causing an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide.
Marc Levy / The Associated Press
(Harrisburg) – Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature was preparing on Wednesday to further extend hundreds of regulatory waivers that Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration had approved under its pandemic disaster emergency authority .
Lawmakers were set to add another six months to an earlier extension they had granted, as the delta variant of the coronavirus causes an increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide.
Lawmakers voted in June to end the Wolf Pandemic Disaster Declaration of Emergency, under new authority given to them by voters in the May referendum to change the constitution .
At the same time, lawmakers extended the hundreds of regulatory waivers until Thursday, the end of September.
The power to suspend regulations is the key element of a governor’s authority under a disaster declaration, and suspended regulations cover a wide range of government and economic functions, including licensing, inspections and training.
The legislation does not affect Wolf’s statewide mask mandate for schools, which requires students, staff and visitors to K-12 schools and daycares to wear masks indoors , regardless of vaccination status.
Under the bill, regulations that the Wolf administration broke can remain blocked and unenforced until March 31, 2022. The Wolf administration would, however, have the power to enforce any of the regulations canceled before. this date.
Wolf can declare another disaster if he needs to.
Lawmakers, however, have the newly granted referendum power to end a new declaration with a majority vote, rather than the two-thirds vote required previously.