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What about Coronavirus?
On the basis of two presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, Governor Tom Wolf (D) signed the COVID-19 Disaster Declaration March 6, 2020. This Emergency Disaster Declaration suspends current regulations and grants Commonwealth agencies additional funding and authority to manage the response to the virus.
The declaration was signed WITHOUT the passing of SB633, the Public Health Emergency Act, sponsored by Senator Jay Costa (D), despite recent calls to pass it in the House, where it has stalled. All civil libertarians and medical freedom advocates should be grateful that the House Health Committee Chair, Representative Kathy Rapp (R), has recognized the inherent problems of the bill and steadfastly resisted pressure to move it.
As written, SB633 enables the state to take undefined and unprecedented measures, “…AS NECESSARY TO PREVENT AND CONTROL THE SPREAD OF DISEASE OR CONDITION.” For a further discussion of how the bill’s sweeping language is problematic, please see our SB633 Fact Sheet.
A group of PCIC advocates visited Harrisburg on March 2, to share our concerns about SB633’s provisions. The majority (R) legislators and aides were all aware that it is fraught with problems and will not be passed as written. See our live report here.
With Governor Wolf’s recent emergency declaration, an argument can be made that SB633’s passage is unnecessary. However, we expect continued pressure to pass emergency bills like SB633, or an amended version of it. Before the House reconvenes on March 16, advocates can take one or more actions to counter the pressure of unrestrained state control by expressing your concerns.
When communicating with legislators, ALWAYS be calm, courteous, and credible.
- Contact your own Representative and Senator to inform them of the problems with SB633. Find your PA state legislators HERE. Send or email them a copy of the SB633 info sheet with a request that any emergency bill that goes forward MUST include language to preserve civil liberties. Your legislator may also appreciate receiving a link to the Connecticut Emergency Response Act which reasonably balances the public health concerns while restraining government overreach. A highlighted copy of the Connecticut statute is published HERE.
- Contact Representative Bryan Cutler, Majority Leader of the House, and ask him to OPPOSE SB633 because it gives the state too much power without protecting citizen’s rights. Email: BCutler@pahousegop.com, (717) 783-6424.
- Email members of the House Health Committee and ask that they OPPOSE SB633 as it is unnecessary and too broad in its reach and scope. Talking points are listed in THIS info sheet. Where possible, include a link to the Connecticut law as an example of a comprehensive Emergency Response Act that balances public health threats without compromising civil liberty protections.
House Health Committee
Kathy Rapp, Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Bernstine, email@example.com
Stephanie Borowicz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Cox, email@example.com
Valerie S. Gaydos, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcia M. Hahn, www.rephahn.com/contact.aspx
Johnathan D. Hershey, email@example.com
Aaron D. Kaufer, AKaufer@pahousegop.com
Dawn W. Keefer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate A. Klunk, email@example.com
Jerry Knowles, firstname.lastname@example.org
Clint Owlett, email@example.com
Brad Roae, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Schemel, email@example.com
David H. Zimmerman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Frankel, email@example.com
Mary Jo Daley, http://www.pahouse.com/MDaley/
Jason Dawkins, http://www.pahouse.com/Dawkins/
Pamela A.DeLissio, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Fiedler, email@example.com
Ed Gainey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Innamorato, email@example.com
Stephen Kinsey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael H.Schlossberg, email@example.com
Wendy Ullman, firstname.lastname@example.org