The State Senate in Pennsylvania on Wednesday passed a bill that would partially revoke Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order and allow most of the state’s businesses to reopen.
Senate Bill 613 passed in the Pennsylvania Senate on Wednesday in a 29-21 vote after the state House approved it in a 107-95 vote the previous day.
The GOP-controlled Senate also approved a bill that would allow counties to implement their own plans for reopening.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee decried the move as “irresponsible” and warned that lives “will be lost” if the bill is signed into law, according to The Hill.
“The Pennsylvania GOP has a storied history of passing irresponsible legislation, but even I’m surprised they’ve stooped so low,” said DLCC President Jessica Post. “Republicans have sent the message loud and clear: they don’t care about Pennsylvania families or the lives that will be lost should this legislation become law. The GOP’s focus should be on saving lives, not saving the stock market.”
State Rep. Mike Jones (R) criticized the waiver process as “extremely inefficient” and “unfair,” saying: “I think the waiver process has been extremely inefficient. We’re concerned it’s been very unfair. The problem is it’s also not been made public. Those are the big three that virtually every other state in the nation, including many of the surrounding states, continue to operate, and it’s coming at the expense of our state.”
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Wolf, a Democrat, has not stated whether he will sign the bill, but Lyndsay Kensinger, his press secretary, said he will likely veto it.
“As the administration as stated many times, irresponsibly going against the direction of the Secretary of Health and reopening businesses too early will only extend the length of the economic hardships created by the pandemic,” Kensinger said.
In a letter to the state senators, Dr. Rachel Levine, Wolf’s health secretary, warned against a hasty reopening of businesses.
“While the governor and I are as eager as anyone to begin getting people back to work, doing so prematurely will only increase the spread of the virus, further lengthening associated economic challenges, while also placing more lives at risk,” Levine wrote.
State Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas issued a statement Wednesday calling on Wolf to sign the bill.
“Hardworking Pennsylvanians have participated faithfully, and they deserve to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Tabas stated. “Governor Wolf has an obligation and an opportunity to live up to his promise of a transparent government by signing this legislation without hesitation.”