June 23, 2019
Pennsylvania Legislative Update:
ALL HANDS ON DECK to OPPOSE SB633.
After visiting the Capitol this week, we learned that there is a real threat that legislators will vote to pass SB633, the Public Health Emergency Act. We know that this passed unopposed because Senators simply were unaware of the severe threat it poses to personal liberty. SB 633 is currently in the House Health Committee. Normally, it would not come up for a vote unless brought forth by the committee chair, Representative Kathy Rapp. Typically, as long as Representative Rapp does not move the bill, it will sit and die in the committee.
However, since June is BUDGET month in Harrisburg, it is a time when back-scratching politics abound. Important funding bills can be held up while amendments are added, and these negotiations could include the provisions of SB 633, separate from the bill itself.
Legislators MUST KNOW that their CONSTITUENTS oppose the provisions of this Public Health Emergency Act. Bringing this to their attention will prevent what happened in the Senate as we ensure that this issue is on the radar of our Representatives and will not sneak past.
Action to take:
- Contact your own representative and ask them to VOTE NO on SB 633 OR any amendment that includes the language of SB 633, the Public Health Emergency Act.
- You can identify your state representative and senator HERE: (Save their phone number to your contacts so it is accessible for future actions!)
- After contacting your legislators, please contact members of the House Health Committee and ask them to OPPOSE SB 633 if it comes up in committee or if an amendment is added to other bills.
- Forward this information to others so they will call their legislators to oppose the Public Health Emergency Act.
· The bill is too vague in defining what constitutes a public health emergency.
· City and county government officials in New York are currently being sued for overriding its citizens’ constitutional rights during a declared public health emergency.
· We need our legislators to ensure that our constitutional rights remain intact at all times.
SB633 passed the Senate 50-0 as many senators were not aware of the extent of authority it would grant the state. The bill was slightly amended, but, it still grants sweeping authority to the state if a public health emergency is declared.
This bill would allow the Governor, at the request of the Secretary of the Department of Health, to bypass all safeguards that have been enacted to protect citizens' rights by simply declaring a public health emergency. It allows unelected government officials to act without accountability to the Department of Justice, regulatory protocol, FOIA, and removes the possibility of criminal prosecution for actions of all persons working under emergency protocol. This opens the door for unprecedented, untested, intrusive, and even criminal procedures to be carried out by the government upon its citizens, leaving citizens with no legal recourse for harm inflicted upon them or their children.
The criteria outlined in this bill under which the Governor may declare a Public Health Emergency is vague and sweeping, allowing for even suspected, but not verified, disease occurrence to initiate an override of the constitutional rights of Pennsylvania citizens.
Simply put, this legislation allows for the temporary removal of the most fundamental rights of citizens on the basis of something as subjective as the suspicion of a potential health concern or a small pocket of drug users possibly consuming tainted drugs. It epitomizes government overreach and abuse of power under the guise of a declared emergency.
AS ALWAYS, STAY UP TO DATE ON CURRENT LEGISLATION AND ACTION AT INFORMEDCONSENTPA.ORG.