Harrisburg, June 10, 2020 – State Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon) released the following statement regarding Senate passage of Senate Bill 1166.
“A constitutional amendment is necessary to clearly define that the powers of the Executive branch are not unrestrained during an emergency declaration and are still subject to the separation of powers that exist between the three, co-equal branches of state government under the Pennsylvania Constitution,” said Senator John Yudichak. “Today’s action by the Senate begins a process that will ultimately give Pennsylvanians a voice in ensuring that their state government will work in a collaborative manner during any future emergency. And, despite these legislative actions to define executive authority under an emergency declaration, we must remain committed to mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus until a vaccine is developed.”
Senate Bill 1166 would limit the length of an emergency declaration to 30 days unless approved for a longer duration by the General Assembly. The bill also would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to prohibit the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity. The change would bring the state Constitution into line with the equal protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution.
Because Senate Bill 1166 would require an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, the bill must be passed by the Senate and House of Representatives in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by voters via referendum.
Senate Bill 1166 passed the Senate by a vote of 44-6 and will go to the House of Representatives for consideration.