Gov. Tom Wolf, saying 'virus is out to get us,' vetoes spectator bill

Erie Times-News (TNS)
Gov. Tom Wolf speaks to media at York Grace Brethren Church in York City, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday morning that he will veto House Bill 2787, which allows schools to determine their own spectator policy for high school sports.

"That will be today," Wolf said when asked about the status of the veto during a news conference Monday morning. "First off, schools already have the ability to decide whether or not they do sports. As to how many fans they can have together, I'm always amazed politicians thinking they can wave a magic wand and suspend reality. Next I'm waiting for someone to come along and say we are going to suspend the law of gravity."

Wolf later followed through on his promise and vetoed the bill.

Currently, Wolf has a mitigation order in place that indoor events should not exceed 25 people and outdoor events should not exceed 250. Last week, his mitigation orders on people limitations were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, but Wolf is appealing that decision.

On Friday, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released a statement asking school districts around the state to enforce the 25/250 limits for the time being while he appealed the court ruling and decided what to do with HB 2787.

Wolf went on to say Monday that "school districts are going to do what they do, but there is a virus out there and that virus really likes it when you bring a lot of people together, that's what we know.

"You ignore that at your peril. You ignore reality, and the reality is that the virus is out to get us. As much as I hate that fact, and everyone hates that fact, it's a fact. Instead of ignoring it, we should figure out what to do to keep that virus from infecting too many people."

HB 2787 was introduced by the house on Sept. 2 and passed by a 155-47 vote. It was sent to the Pennsylvania senate a few days later for debate and passed 39-11 on Sept. 9. The bill was sent to Wolf, who had 10 days to sign or veto the bill, and Monday was the 10th day since the bill hit his desk.

Wolf's veto means that the house and the senate can vote to override the veto and make the bill a law, but both the house and senate would need a two-thirds majority vote for the override.

"Apparently the folks who voted for this decided they wanted to ignore that reality (virus)," Wolf said. "I can't and I don't think Pennsylvanians can ignore that reality so I'm going to veto it."