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General Assembly approves proposed constitutional amendment requiring legislative vote on extended disaster declaration

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The PA state Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment yesterday that would limit the length of future emergency disaster declarations unless an extension is approved by the General Assembly, moving the measure one step closer to a voter referendum.

Under current law, a governor’s emergency declaration can last up to 90 days and be renewed by the governor indefinitely. Under Senate Bill 1166, the emergency declaration would be limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly approved a longer duration. It also clarifies that the legislature is not required to present the resolution ending the declaration to the governor for his consideration.

Senate Bill 1166 also provides for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity, bringing the Pennsylvania Constitution in line with the U.S. Constitution.

Yesterday’s Senate vote followed Tuesday’s approval by the House of Representatives, which amended the bill and returned it to the Senate. As a constitutional amendment, the legislation must be approved again in the next legislative session before being put on the ballot for voters to decide.


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