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Republicans Say Wolf Is Trying To Sabotage Ballot Question Regarding Emergency Declaration

Tom Wolf

Republican leaders of Pennsylvania's Legislature said Wednesday that Gov. Tom Wolf's administration is trying to sabotage ballot questions to amend the constitution to shift authority over the length of emergency declarations from governors to lawmakers.

The measures arose from Republican lawmakers’ strident disagreement with how Wolf, a Democrat, has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

In a news conference, Republican lawmakers said Wolf's administration purposely wrote the questions with wording designed to scare voters into rejecting them.

“We respect the voters, we think they'll see through it, they’ll understand it and we hope to do our best to educate them on it,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre.

Wolf's office said the wording in the ballot questions “fairly, accurately and clearly apprise the voter of the issue to be voted on.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the proposals heading to the ballot. Wolf opposes them, but governors have no power to prevent proposals to amend the constitution from going on the ballot for voters to consider.

Courts have nearly unanimously backed Wolf’s use of emergency powers to impose social-distancing restrictions, close buildings or limit business activity during the pandemic. Wolf’s administration maintains that the proposed amendments will not affect those powers. because they rest on the state’s Disease Prevention and Control Act.

The questions are scheduled to appear on Pennsylvania’s May 18 primary ballot.