On May 18, 2021 Pennsylvania residents approved two constitutional amendments designed to limit executive overreach when issuing emergency declarations.
Constitutional Amendment #1: This amendment sought to change the state’s constitution to allow the General Assembly to terminate or extend an emergency declaration without a governor’s approval. Currently, a governor can veto such a resolution passed by legislators, and the General Assembly needs a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate to override that veto. This amendment allows the General Assembly to end or extend an emergency declaration with a simple majority vote. This measure has unofficially been approved with approximately 54% of the vote.
Constitutional Amendment #2: This amendment lets emergency declarations expire after 21 days unless the General Assembly votes to extend them, and it would prohibit a governor from declaring a new emergency for the same situation unless legislators approve a concurrent resolution. Currently, a governor has sole authority to issue emergency declarations, which last for 90 days, and to extend them, which Wolf has done repeatedly since March 2020 when the pandemic struck. Again, the General Assembly can override an emergency declaration by concurrent resolution, but a governor can veto it. This measure has unofficially been approved with approximately 54% of the vote.