HB 836 End Declaration Floor Remarks

Mr. President, I rise to support HR 836, which will immediately end the governor’s emergency order, which is rapidly approaching Day 100. This resolution will restore our democracy’s fundamental system of checks and balances, and ensure that our most basic liberties are restored to our lives, livelihoods, and loved ones.

When this new virus first dawned, it needed to be taken seriously, in order to save lives, protect public health, and prevent our hospitals and health care workers from being overwhelmed. Now, after three long months, the rate of COVID-19 cases is, mercifully, dropping, and we are at a crossroads.

It is clear that one man, and one man alone, should not be continuing to make high-stakes, life-altering decisions for more than 12 million Pennsylvanians. “Government by executive order” is not “government of, by and for the people.”

We are in uncharted territory, but the unilateral, unbridled power that has been wielded by these executive orders has led to chaos, with so many unintended consequences: confusing and inconsistent waivers that hurt hometown Main Street businesses that could have safely met everyday needs, while big-box stores posted record profits; confusing red-yellow-green color phases that lack clarity and continually move the goalposts; unemployment compensation snafus that include crashed websites, weeks of delay, and fraud; food bank lines that last for a mile; and on and on.

Throughout this pandemic, there has been a disturbing lack of transparency, collaboration, consistency, and clarity. The governor has unilaterally picked winners and losers. Thank you, Pennsylvanians, for all you have done together to combat this crisis, but now is the time to end this declaration and return to a representative democracy.