Senate Approves Constitutional Amendment Limiting Disaster Declarations

The Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday that would limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly, according to Senator Dan Laughlin, who voted for the measure.

Senate Bill 2 includes three proposed amendments to the State Constitution. The exact language of constitutional amendments must be approved by the General Assembly in two consecutive legislative sessions before going to the voters for final approval. If Senate Bill 2 is approved by the House of Representatives, the amendments could appear on the ballot as early as the upcoming Spring Primary Election.

“We are moving forward to put these constitutional questions before the voters as soon as possible,” Senator Laughlin said. “To be clear, we are not taking away the Governor’s power to declare an emergency. However, it is important that the General Assembly – as the people’s direct representatives to state government — have a say in the process. These amendments, if approved by the voters, would restore balance to Pennsylvania government.”

Currently, a Governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the Governor indefinitely. Under the constitutional amendment in Senate Bill 2 the emergency declaration would be limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves a longer duration.

Senate Bill 2 also provides for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity, bringing the Pennsylvania Constitution in line with the U.S. Constitution.

Contact:         Matt Azeles       

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