Mar. 29, 2021

By Rep. Marci Mustello
11th Legislative District
More than one year ago Gov. Tom Wolf took drastic measures to close down the state in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, we were told to prepare for a brief, two-week shutdown, to ensure our health care infrastructure could sustain the expected hit. Two-weeks to flatten the curve turned into more than 52 weeks of arbitrary shutdowns and inconsistent leadership.

And now, the governor and his failed administration are offering the people of Pennsylvania too little, too late.

For months, frontline workers, small business owners and working families have been confronted with unimaginable challenges. The governor could have been working with the Legislature to protect lives and livelihoods. Instead - on top of the health challenges so many face – many of our friends and neighbors were put out of work, unemployment checks were never sent, children lost an entire year of education and have suffered emotionally, and many of the state’s employers face economic ruin.

My colleagues in the General Assembly and I repeatedly tried to work with the governor to protect small business owners and working families. Wolf chose to ignore the Legislature and surround himself with incompetent political appointees.

To this day, the governor continues to act unilaterally.

After neglecting the concerns of employers across the state for months, Gov. Wolf is finally loosening shutdown restrictions for some industries on April 4. While I am pleased he is taking these steps, the question remains - why wait?

It took the governor and his administration just hours to shut down employers across the state. Why is it then that we have to wait days – even weeks – to re-open? This is especially frustrating as neighboring states are opening much faster and getting a head start on rebuilding their economies and putting people back to work.

More than once, I voted to protect public health, local small businesses, and working families. And more than once, the governor chose his go-it-alone approach of politics over people with his veto pen.

As we learned more about the virus, Republicans in the House introduced and supported countless bills to ensure many employers could safely re-open just as they were in other states. We were met with constant push back, and his veto pen, at every twist and turn.

I am tired of out-of-touch elites in Harrisburg making arbitrary decisions while our employers and communities hang in the balance. Community leaders and the people of Pennsylvania must have the ability to control their lives and livelihoods.

That’s why I voted for legislation to put two referendum questions on the May 18 primary ballot to address the state’s emergency declaration process.

One question seeks to limit emergency declarations by a governor to a maximum of 21 days, unless extended by a vote of the Legislature, and the other would clarify that a concurrent resolution terminating or extending a disaster emergency declaration need not be presented to a governor for signature.

I believe that your voice should be represented at all times, including during states of emergency, and that our system of checks and balances must be preserved. Executive powers to declare emergencies are sometimes needed to free up resources for an immediate response to situations such as natural disasters. I do not believe they should be used to circumvent the state Constitution, the separation of powers or – most importantly – the will of the people for extended periods of time.

Voters need to be aware these questions were written by the governor’s Department of State using language that is politically charged and prejudicial, and more than a little confusing. Please take a moment to learn more about these questions and come out on May 18 to cast your vote in the way you believe best serves your community and the Commonwealth.

Rep. Marci Mustello represents Pennsylvania’s 11th District, covering portions of Butler County. She was first elected in 2019.

Representative Marci Mustello
11th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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