In this Update:
Dush: School Mask Mandate is Unacceptable and Unconstitutional
“The People of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania spoke very clearly in May when they rebuked Governor Wolf’s handling of the COVID 19 virus response. They made it clear that unilateral power to impact the freedoms of The People were unacceptable.
“Leading up to this decision by the Governor and the unconfirmed Secretary of Health both made public statements that universal masking would not be ordered in schools. With the schizophrenic nature of his responses over the previous eighteen months, I did not believe him.
“Last week, Governor Wolf proved once again that he says one thing and means the opposite. He sent a letter to House and Senate leadership asking the legislature to join him in going back on his word, thus shielding him from public condemnation. We didn’t take the bait.
“Yesterday, he and his unconfirmed Secretary of Health publicly violated their previous commitments and issued an order to schools and childcare centers demanding universal masking under the Disease Prevention and Control Act. The kicker in this is that apparently the Governor and his unconfirmed Secretary of Health believe COVID 19 is taking a break until next Tuesday when the order is to take effect.
“I’ve joined Senator Scott Martin who is introducing legislation clarifying that the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health’s powers to respond to emergencies stem only from an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.
“On May 18, 2021, Pennsylvanians responded to more than a year’s worth of unilateral governance by executive fiat and confusing guidance from Department Secretaries. Citizens ultimately chose to return to a system of checks and balances, with science-driven policy decisions and better communication, by voting in favor of a constitutional amendment.
“Despite the intent of that amendment, this acting Secretary of Health has continued to argue that she can issue emergency mandates regardless of whether an official emergency declaration is in place. The proposed legislation would clarify this misunderstanding by amending the cited authority, as claimed by the Secretary in both the Administrative Code, as well as the Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955.
“Pennsylvanians sent an unequivocal message to the Executive Branch of our Commonwealth’s government during the most recent Primary, and bypassing their intent by taking emergency actions, without declaring an emergency, is unacceptable. I will do everything in my constitutional authority to correct this behavior.”
Wolf Administration Mandates Masks for All Pennsylvania Students
In a major policy reversal, Governor Wolf announced that masks will be required in all Pennsylvania public and private schools, as well as childcare facilities.
We all want to protect children, and no one cares more than the parents and school administrators in our communities. That’s where the decision to mandate student masking should be made – at the local level.
In May, voters stripped Governor Wolf of his authority to unilaterally extend emergency declarations, and actions such as his statewide student mask mandate demonstrate why citizens made that decision.
It is in that same spirit that I am supporting legislation to require school districts to develop a plan for parents to opt-out their child from wearing a face covering or mask.
Pennsylvania Senate Expense Reports Now Posted Online
Pennsylvania Senate expense reports are now available to the public online, increasing transparency in state government.
The reports, available at www.pasen.gov/RTKL/monthlyExpenses.cfm, detail all expenses for each individual senator’s office and institutional offices. Expense reports for July 2021 were posted this week, and the system will be updated with new reports every month going forward.
Categories of expenses available in the reports include:
Expenses for each caucus service office are listed under the respective leader reports. Other categories of information are already available online, including:
Free Webinars Connect Military Veterans with Agriculture Business Funding
A free webinar series begins this month to connect military veterans who are considering starting or expanding an agriculture business with resources, funding and planning tools they need to succeed.
The first session will be held Sept. 14 from 7-8 p.m. and will cover grants, business planning and other resources. A web link or phone number to join the session can be obtained by contacting PA Preferred Program Manager Gwyn Rowland at RA-AgPaPreferred@pa.gov.
Future sessions will explore the PA Preferred Homegrown By Heroes program, which gives military veterans tools to brand their PA-made and PA-grown agricultural products for consumers who want to buy local and support veterans in their communities; sustainable agriculture opportunities through the PA Preferred Organic program; and other resources for transitioning, diversifying and expanding agricultural businesses.
National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood cancers take many forms, from blood disorders to various types of tumors and rare genetic diseases.
In recent years, the General Assembly created the opportunity for contributions to be used for pediatric cancer research. These contributions are deducted from a tax refund and may be made as a $5 contribution when renewing a driver’s license or vehicle registration.
Have a Happy Labor Day
Workers across Pennsylvania and the U.S. had their lives disrupted during the pandemic, and many are still striving for a return to normalcy.
I hope that you and your family had a wonderful Labor Day weekend, as we celebrated the past contributions and hopeful future of the American worker.
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