Op-Ed: The last line of defense against a governor’s overreach

Originally published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Delaware County Times.

In the face of an emerging crisis, swift and extraordinary action can be warranted. This was certainly true last March, when Gov. Tom Wolf — confronting a deadly, mysterious virus — issued a disaster declaration that granted him emergency powers. There was little time to debate details and build consensus. Pennsylvanians required action.

But more than 300 days later, Wolf still wields powers far beyond the scope of any governor before him. There is no limit on the number of times Wolf can renew the initial disaster declaration. And he has renewed it three times despite the Legislature — with a bipartisan majority — voting to end the governor’s emergency powers.

Such a concentration of power in one branch of government — indeed, in one person — flies in the face of America’s constitutional system of government. Amid worsening economic conditions — some of which are the result of the governor’s actions, it’s time to rethink the scope of emergency powers for him and all future executives. 

The consequences of unchecked gubernatorial authority are stark: Nearly one in three Pennsylvania businesses have closed due to government mandates. Wolf, though, has continued to use emergency powers to control the private sector. Over the holiday season…

Read more at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Delaware County Times.