LETTER: Constitutional amendment would restore balance of power

Erica Clayton Wright
East Hempfield Township
FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, file photo shows the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The York Dispatch editorial board should have done a refresh of its American government class before penning an editorial on April 15 titled “Fight efforts to hamstring Pa. governor.”

Despite being an opinion, the factual inaccuracies regarding the function of government and the ballot questions are neither “gibberish” or “political” and deserve clarification.

More:EDITORIAL: Fight efforts to hamstring Pa. governor

More:Voters to weigh in on Pa. government pandemic power struggle

First, it’s factually inaccurate to compare North Carolina’s special session with the Pennsylvania governor’s emergency powers. A special session is when the legislative body convenes outside of a normal legislative session. An emergency declaration is meant to provide a governor with additional power to triage a crisis.

In this case, Pennsylvanians are voting on the governor’s emergency declaration powers. Specifically, they are deciding if the governor has the ability to by-pass the people by continuously extending a crisis via the emergency declaration process.

Gov. Tom Wolf has kept the commonwealth in a continuous state of crisis for years and more than any other governor in the history of the commonwealth. He has extended the emergency declaration 13 times for opioids and four times for COVID.

Remaining in a continuous state of crisis affects when your children return to school and prevents us from getting back to life as we know it. It also allows the governor to advance his political agenda by enacting, amending and suspending laws and regulations.

Second, Pennsylvania is not the only state evaluating the status of emergencies. The Pennsylvania bill mirrors the thinking of Democrats in the New York State Senate and has received bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania Senate.

>>Read the proposed constitutional amendments here

Third, a “yes” vote on the May ballot does not take power away from the governor as the editorial suggests. Instead it brings back the balance of power, giving the people more of a say in how to manage their communities during emergency situations.

— Erica Clayton Wright is an East Hempfield Township resident and communications director for state Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward.