PA Capitol & COVID-19 Weekly Report: Effort To End COVID-19 Emergency Will Provide Civics Lesson

Senate and House Republican efforts to end Gov. Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency declaration will provide a civics lesson that is far from academic on the three branches of government as the issue moved to Commonwealth Court and the PA Supreme Court last week.

            On June 9, both the Senate and House Republicans gave final approval to House Concurrent Resolution 836 (Diamond-R-Lebanon) that would terminate the COVID-19 disaster emergency issued by the Governor of its own accord, Republicans say..

            On June 10, Gov. Wolf disagreed saying it doesn’t for two reasons: 1) the state constitution says all concurrent resolutions must be presented to a Governor for his action– this one was not; and 2) the resolution does not deal at all with the Secretary of Health’s orders which parallel his own laying out the phased reopening plan and the guidances and other requirements businesses must follow.

            Putting it succinctly, Gov. Wolf said the resolution “doesn’t open a single business,” it’s “status quo” on the ground.  Read more here.

            Wolf said he was taking the Republicans to Court on the issue.

The Senate Republican Caucus did not wait for Wolf to act and filed a petition of their own with Commonwealth Court the same day asking the court to “command” the Governor to end the COVID-19 disaster emergency. Commonwealth Court agreed to expedite the issueRead more here.

Former Senate Republican chief counsel Drew Crompton now sits on Commonwealth Court, so it will be interesting to see if he recuses himself from the case.

On June 12, Gov. Wolf then went to court too, but jumped over Commonwealth Court and went directly to the PA Supreme Court to try to uphold his disaster declaration.  Read more here.

So it’s the third branch of government that will decide, maybe, who’s right.  Either way, lots of lawyers are going to be busy on this one, paid for by taxpayers!

            More Counties Turn Green

            On June 12, Gov.  Tom Wolf announced eight more counties will move to the green phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 19. These counties include Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Luzerne, Monroe, Perry, Pike, and Schuylkill.

As of June 12, there are now 46 counties in green and 21 in yellow.

These 46 counties are in the green phase: Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Blair, Bradford, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Elk, Fayette, Forest, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Juniata, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming, and York.

As of June 12, these 21 counties are in the yellow phase: Berks, Bucks, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Schuylkill, and Susquehanna.

            Gov. Wolf said the state continues to increase testing and ramp up contact-tracing efforts. As of June 11, there are a total of 496 contact tracers, and a total of 2,777 contacts being monitored.

The Department of Health received a total of 80,498 test results in the past seven days, an average of 11,500 a day. The 30-day average of test results received is more than 10,500.

Other COVID-19 Actions

Among the other COVID-19 actions taken by the Wolf Administration were–

Gov. Wolf: Updated Business Guidance On Outdoor Recreation In Yellow, Green Phases Of Reopening

Wolf Administration Provides Guidance To Resume High School, Other Summer Sports

Dept. Of Health Orders Further COVID-19 Protections For Hospital Staff

Gov. Wolf: Additional COVID-19 Testing Sites Opening In Areas With Limited Access

PEMA, Health Urges Citizens To Prepare For Severe Summer Weather During COVID-19 Pandemic

Dept. Of Health Issues Universal Testing Order For Nursing Homes, Testing Guidance For Long-Term Care Facilities

Dept. Of Health Launches Enhanced Dashboard On COVID-19 Demographic, Testing, Reopening Data

Some Casinos Reopening

Several casinos reopened last week in eastern and western Pennsylvania under COVID-19-imposed mitigation rules that will not allow most table game play at the moment and require patrons to wear masks.

This gives some hope to budgeteers at least some revenue will be flowing into state coffers.

            COVID-19 Death Toll

The number of deaths from COVID-19 increased from 5,943 on June 7 to 6,215 deaths on June 14. The number of people testing positive for the virus went from 75,592 on June 7 to 78,798 on June 14.


As of June 11, the total number of unemployment claims from March 15 are 1,950,105, up from 1,906,054 last week.

Since March 15, the Department of Labor and Industry has paid out over $14 billion in benefits on 2.5 million claims– two million regular employed and 512,000 self-employed and gig workers.  Read more here.

We Have A Winner!

After nine days of counting ballots, the apparent winner of the Democratic primary for Auditor General is Nina Ahmad, former Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia, who declared victory on June 11.  Read more here.

34 Million Cases Sealed

On June 12, the PA Court System released information saying under the Clean Slate Law which took effect June 28, 2019, over 34 million cases and nearly 47 million offenses have been sealed from public view.

These records will no longer show up on criminal record clearance searches.

Under the law, criminal history record information is automatically shielded from public like offenses with non-conviction dispositions, and eligible summary and non-violent misdemeanor convictions more than 10 years old for which all court-ordered obligations have been completed.  Read more here.

New Community College

On June 11, the State Board of Education approved a new community college for Erie in a 9 to 6 vote.  It is the first community college created in more than a quarter century.  Read more here.

What’s Next?

The Senate canceled voting session for June 15, 16 and 17, and will next come to Harrisburg with the House the week of June 22 for voting session.

The Senate is still holding committee hearings next week on the PA Turnpike’s layoff of 500 employees and an informational meeting on the impacts of COVID-19 on the NE PA economy.

Senate Democrats have a hearing on Pennsylvania’s food chain post-COVID-19.

The House has also several committee meetings scheduled, including the House Judiciary Committee on two police training bills related in part to the George Floyd protests, an information meeting on reopening schools in the fall and an informational meeting on PPE in long-term care facilities.


Click Here For A Week’s Worth Of Political NewsClips

Click Here For PA Coronavirus NewsClips

Click Here For A Week’s Worth Of Environment & Energy NewsClips

TAP HERE for all articles in June 15 EXPRESS Update