Gov. Tom Wolf has come under increasing fire for a continued lack of transparency and willingness to open some portions of Pennsylvania business and industry.
He is slowly putting himself on an island and must explain why certain parts of businesses cannot safely open if guidance from the state is followed.
Tuesday he vetoed a series of bills — House Bill 2412, Senate Bill 327 and House Bill 2388 — that would have granted some leeway to businesses to open or at least offered some balance to his check. He did bend a little bit, opening real estate statewide with a detailed set of rules and guidelines that must be followed by all real estate agents, buyers, sellers and others involved in the transactions as part of the ongoing effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
House Bill 2412 would have required a waiver for providers of legal services, residential and commercial real estate services, including settlement services while following state-issued social distancing guidelines. The bill had bipartisan support. In the House, 25 Democrats and all Republicans voted in support; In the Senate, five Democrats sided with the GOP.
Senate Bill 327, adopted in the House and Senate, would have created the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force that would encompass representatives from all three branches of government. The task force would have been charged with identifying urgent issues, providing a structure to catalog the state’s response to the disaster emergency and create a recovery plan to help return communities to pre-disaster conditions, lawmakers said.
Under the bill, county officials would have been authorized to develop an emergency mitigation plan for businesses operating within the county’s jurisdiction in consultation with health and emergency management officials.
House Bill 2388 would have required the state Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver to the business closure orders for vehicle dealerships; lawn and garden centers; cosmetology salons and barbershops; messenger services; animal grooming and manufacturing operations.
Many of the issues embedded in these proposals involved the ability of business owners and their employees to engage in business activities, protect their investments and earn a living, while still practicing all guidelines and procedures outlined by medical experts to keep people as safe as possible amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The governor said he vetoed the bills because he felt they were “an infringement” on his authority as governor.
The governor has every right to veto these bills, but these proposals have been properly deliberated and advanced by elected members of the legislative branch of state government, including one proposal that gained bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature.
Every Pennsylvania citizen is entitled to a full explanation of the reasoning behind the governor’s decisions. We await his response.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard and Managing Editor Bill Bowman.