Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have already made significant progress in setting the stage for Pennsylvanians to take control of our needed economic recovery and we will continue to advance an aggressive, yet practical, forward-thinking agenda to prime the Commonwealth for its return to normal.
Our strategy has been simple: Provide short-term relief while working toward long-term solutions.
Seeing the need for short-term relief, Republicans in the legislature recently appropriated nearly $1 billion in federal and state aid to small businesses, families, and the hospitality industry impacted by the economic restrictions resulting from this pandemic.
This short-term economic stimulus will help get Pennsylvania through what we hope are the last months of this pandemic. But short-term relief is not enough. Pennsylvanians need long-term solutions. Without them, there is no clear path forward out of this pandemic.
We know that no long-term recovery will be possible without Pennsylvanians having certainty that their health will be protected. The only way we get there is through rapid and efficient vaccine deployment.
Yet, now that a vaccine has arrived, Pennsylvania has floundered in getting the supply we have out to those who need it the most.
It is clear the Department of Health was flat-out unprepared to deploy the vaccine supply we have been given and millions of Pennsylvanians looking to protect themselves from the Covid-19 virus have gone wanting.
Knowing that correcting this failure is the surest way to get back to normal, Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives stepped up to the plate to lead where others have failed.
Recently, we passed a legislative solution that will utilize the Pennsylvania National Guard to develop vaccine deployment infrastructure to help get future doses into the arms of Pennsylvanians.
Since we expect our vaccine supply from the federal government to increase, and a correlating need to ramp up distribution as we get closer to spring and summer, this development is crucial to better vaccine deployment going forward.
Once health care assurances are provided, Pennsylvania will need an economic boost that can be sustained with new jobs and new opportunities. That effort started in earnest last month with the formation of a House Republican Economic Recovery Task Force, whose primary objective is to develop proposals to help jump-start Pennsylvania’s economic recovery.
The task force is currently undertaking the work of examining creative solutions, legislative proposals, opportunities for tax relief and regulatory changes to put Pennsylvania on a path to real recovery and then sustainable, long-term growth.
The best recovery legislation can only be effective if Pennsylvanians have confidence that their jobs will not be taken away, their businesses will not be shut down, and that their livelihoods will not be taken away again by executive fiat.
Seeing the devastating effects of the governor’s unilateral, emergency authority over the past year, coupled with his refusal to work with the legislature in responding to Covid-19, it became readily apparent that the only way to make sure Pennsylvanians could return to normal on their own terms was to take the people’s voice back and rein in this emergency power.
To accomplish this, we advanced a Constitutional amendment to ensure the people, speaking through their representatives in the General Assembly, have a say in whether or not to extend any state of emergency and the extreme executive authority attached to it.
That amendment was supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, and soon will be before you, the voters. You will get to decide whether or not to take your power back and ensure that no Pennsylvania governor obtains unchecked power during an emergency. House Republicans believe no one person should stand in the way of a reasonable and bipartisan approach to emergency management and recovery.
Despite the good things being done in the Legislature, we know our work will not be done until each Pennsylvanian finds their way out of this unprecedented time and can feel safe in their future and ability to support themselves and their families.
Pennsylvania House Republicans will continue to look ahead and lead to provide a road to recovery that gets us out of this pandemic and into a better tomorrow.
State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff is the Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He has represented portions of Centre and Mifflin counties since 1997.