​​​​​​​Pennsylvania lawmakers eye final steps to end Wolf's emergency declaration, extend waivers

The Associated Press
The Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature planned to return to session on Thursday to vote both to end Gov. Tom Wolf's pandemic disaster emergency declaration and to extend hundreds of regulatory waivers his administration approved over the last 15 months.

A bill to extend the regulatory waivers would keep the regulations suspended until Sept. 30, unless Wolf's administration ends the waivers sooner.

More:Pennsylvania voters impose new limits on governor's powers

The waivers go back to March 2020, when Wolf, a Democrat, first issued a disaster emergency declaration at the beginning of the pandemic. They cover a wide swath of government requirements, including on licensing, inspections and training, and Wolf had warned lawmakers that ending them immediately could hurt the state's recovery.

Numerous health care licensing regulations were waived to ensure that hospitals could find qualified medical staff more easily as they stretched thin to handle an influx of COVID-positive patients and a wave of demand to administer vaccines.

Separately, Republicans in the House and Senate also plan to pass a resolution to end Wolf's disaster emergency declaration, carrying out what they see as the new powers given to them by voters in last month’s statewide referendum.

Legislative officials say the end of the declaration must wait until Wolf's administration certifies the results of the referendum, possibly as early as Friday.