Larry Winans and his business partner developed their homebrewing hobbies into a dream and a vision for a new brewery in Lewisburg. They spent four years carefully planning for its success, over a year awaiting final construction of the building, and countless months hiring and training their staff of more than 20 employees. But just five days after their vision became a grand opening celebration, they were mandated by Gov. Tom Wolf to close their doors and lay off their employees for the unforeseeable future.
In March 2020, the governor issued an emergency declaration to address growing concerns of the new and rapidly spreading coronavirus. After an initial two-week period to “stop the spread” and “flatten the curve,” the shutdown expanded, and Wolf consolidated more executive control. After several months, it became abundantly clear the governor’s power grab had no end in sight.
Over a year later, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania businesses like Jackass Brewing Company are still struggling to survive under crushing restrictions. The long-term economic repercussions are already being felt in our homes and communities.
While it took the governor and his political appointees mere minutes to shut down the state, it has taken well over a year to begin the process of re-opening. Even worse – the governor has repeatedly refused to work with the local elected officials who know their communities best, operating more like a king than a governor. Time and time again, he refused to work or even talk with the Legislature, didn’t answer calls, and vetoed legislation that would have helped communities across the commonwealth avoid the economic and public health devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, May 18, all Pennsylvania voters have a unique opportunity to make sure this never happens again. Two constitutional amendments will appear on the primary ballot related to emergency declarations. It is more important than ever to vote “yes”!
While the questions may sound like confusing legal jargon, a “yes” vote would protect our local communities, including our children’s education, and our small businesses.
The first question would restore checks and balances by giving the General Assembly the ability to terminate a governor’s disaster declaration by a majority vote in the House and Senate. The second question would require legislative approval for the extension of a disaster declaration beyond 21 days. All registered voters – regardless of party affiliation – can vote on these questions.
Ultimately, these amendments would ensure me and my colleagues in the Legislature can stand up for your interests, work with current and future governors to protect lives and livelihoods, and make sure one person in Harrisburg does not control the lives of almost 13 million Pennsylvanians.
May 18 is about people, not politics. Republicans and Democrats alike have had their livelihoods devastated by Wolf’s unilateral rule. A “yes” vote on May 18 will help get Pennsylvania on the road to recovery and restore checks and balances in Harrisburg, so we can safely re-open our businesses, rebuild our communities, and get our children back in school.