(The Center Square) – Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf renewed the state’s disaster declaration for a third time on Tuesday, extending his broad emergency powers for another 90 days.

“As we approach the six-month mark of this crisis, I continue to be amazed at the resiliency and strength shown by Pennsylvanians during this pandemic,” he said. “We are going to continue to combat the health and economic effects of COVID-19, and the renewal of my disaster declaration will provide us with resources and support needed for this effort.”

The decision prompted House Republicans to convene a news conference for Wednesday that will likely call into question the administration’s decisions over the last six months of the pandemic – from restricting economic activity above and beyond federal guidance to implementing policies that placed recovered COVID-19 patients back into nursing homes, among many other choices long criticized by GOP legislators. 

Republican majorities in the House and Senate approved constitutional amendments over the summer meant to limit the governor’s emergency powers, including language that requires the governor seek legislative approval for any extension of a disaster declaration beyond 21 days. 

Wolf counters, however, that maintaining the state of emergency allows his administration to waive licensing requirements for health care providers, redirect emergency aid and respond quickly to emerging outbreaks. More than 130,000 residents have tested positive for the virus and nearly 8,000 have died since Wolf first declared an emergency on March 6. 

Republican majorities in the House and Senate approved constitutional amendments over the summer meant to limit the governor’s emergency powers, including language that requires the governor seek legislative approval for any extension of a disaster declaration beyond 21 days. 

Constitutional amendments must past each chamber in two consecutive sessions before voters see the referendum appear on the ballot. The General Assembly’s July passage primes the amendments for their second round of consideration next year. 

Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.

This piece was originally published in The Center Square. Read the original article here.

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