Op-Ed: Voters can restore checks and balances in Pa.

Originally published in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

On May 18, Pennsylvania voters will have the opportunity to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that has enabled the governor to repeatedly extend emergency declarations without legislative input.

Under current law, a governor’s emergency declarations can last up to 90 days, and can be renewed unilaterally for additional 90-day periods. The General Assembly can theoretically step in with a concurrent resolution to end a declaration, but with its decision in Wolf v. Scarnati from July of last year, the high court provided the governor with the authority to veto these resolutions.

Thus, as the law is currently interpreted, a governor is well positioned to extend his or her own emergency powers in perpetuity, as a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly is a tall order.

Sen. Kim Ward, a Westmoreland County Republican and Senate majority leader, was not surprised by last year’s ruling.

“This particular Supreme Court is very partisan and very political and will back the governor up on anything,” Ward says. “I did not expect these justices to rule any other way. They’re not going to look at what the law actually says. Instead, they are just going to do the governor’s bidding.”

Ward has proposed…

Read more at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.