On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that overrode Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s lockdown, or stay-at-home order, instead allowing all businesses to open back up within the federal parameters.
Senate Bill 613, reports The Hill, “would require the governor’s office to align with federal guidelines in determining which businesses will be allowed to reopen during the pandemic, allowing all those that can safely operate with mitigation strategies under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency guidelines.”
The Republican-backed legislation passed in the State Senate 29-21.
Governor Wolf has already closed schools for the remainder of the academic year and extended his stay-at-home order without exception until April 30. All businesses that Wolf deems non “life sustaining” have been closed down, which has drawn criticism of favoritism, Penn Live reported.
The GOP-backed bill would arguably allow more transparency while staying within the guidance laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the report added.
“I think the waiver process has been extremely inefficient. We’re concerned it’s been very unfair. The problem is it’s also not been made public,” Republican State Rep. Mike Jones told WGAL. “Those are the big three that virtually every other state in the nation, including many of the surrounding states, continue to operate, and it’s coming at the expense of our state.”
Nonetheless, Wolf is expected to spike the bill.
“As the administration as stated many times, irresponsibly going against the direction of the Secretary of Health and reopening businesses too early will only extend the length of the economic hardships created by the pandemic,” said Lyndsay Kensinger, the governor’s press secretary.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) claimed Republican legislators “don’t care” about “Pennsylvania families or the lives that will be lost.”
“The Pennsylvania GOP has a storied history of passing irresponsible legislation, but even I’m surprised they’ve stooped so low,” said a statement from DLCC president Jessica Post, according to The Hill. “Republicans have sent the message loud and clear: they don’t care about Pennsylvania families or the lives that will be lost should this legislation become law. The GOP’s focus should be on saving lives, not saving the stock market.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Wolf entered into a partnership with six other Northeastern states — Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York — to coordinate on when and how to end the lockdown, The Daily Wire reported.
“If you do it wrong, it can backfire, and we’ve seen that with other places in the globe,” said Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “What the art form is going to be here is doing that smartly and doing that in a coordinated way.”
While the delays build up, Americans across the country are starting to speak out against lockdown measures. On Wednesday, for example, thousands participated in a protest at the Michigan State Capitol against their Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s excessive and inconsistent stay-at-home order.