from Rep. Kristine Howard (D-167), 4/9/20
Political opportunism was on full display in Harrisburg this week with Republican leaders taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to pursue items that play to their base, even at the cost of putting the health of all Pennsylvanians at greater risk.
Here are a few of the ideas the Republican majority floated and keep in mind they have the votes to pass any or all of them:
- Renegotiating teacher contracts
- Cutting school funding
- Temporarily prohibiting abortions by labeling them elective surgical procedures
- Threatening public health by proposing reopening almost all businesses.
- Legal liability reform leading to a reduction in the safeguards that protect quality medical care
- Placing additional burden and bureaucracy on the Governor and the Secretary of Health by mandating a partisan task force dominated by politicians and asking them to do what is already done by professional staff across state government.
The Republican agenda was so foolhardy, it prompted Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine to take the unusual step of writing a letter to the General Assembly warning how these proposals could lead to wider spreading of the virus and more deaths.
Further exacerbating the situation, Republican Leadership moved a bill in committee minimizing the authority of the Governor and requiring that imprecise federal guidance be the Pennsylvania standard for establishing essential/non-essential businesses.
Governor Wolf’s decisive and timely actions have been a model of leadership that may very well be sparing Pennsylvania a far worse fate than other states . We need a strong executive in charge of our Commonwealth’s response to this pandemic and Governor Wolf has shown he is up to the task. This is not the time to undermine his authority and pursue partisan political agendas.
The emergency nature of Governor Wolf’s life-saving actions inevitably meant not everything would go perfectly but, if there was ever a time when we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, this is it.
You can rest assured that Governor Wolf and his administration are consuming data, gathering feedback, consulting with medical experts and listening to elected officials, leaders of commerce and social service providers throughout the state. He is using this information to evaluate the effectiveness of his actions and to determine when and how his executive orders may be eased, modified, or if necessary, more vigorously enforced.
I will continue to vote against the partisan efforts to undermine the Governor’s authority and encourage him to veto any short-sighted bills the Republican majority may put on his desk.
I stand with Governor Wolf. I hope you will stand with me.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home,