Governor Wolf has used the emergency powers that he awarded to himself again, but before we get into the recent order, let us look at a short history of Governor Wolf’s emergency orders.
Since Tom Wolf first swore the oath as governor of Pennsylvania in January 2015, he has used the emergency declaration many times. The first time that Governor Wolf declared the State of Emergency and assumed the associated gubernatorial powers over the covid-19 pandemic was March 6th, 2020. He has extended this declaration, without consulting the legislature, three times in 90-day increments. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been in this State of Emergency over this pandemic for nine months, but that is by no means the beginning of this gubernatorial saga. In January 2018 Wolf declared a public health emergency over the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania. Last month, that declaration was extended for the twelfth time. Next month the opioid emergency declaration turns three years old. In January 2016, January 2018, March 2018, and January 2019 he declared emergencies over forecasted winter storms. Add these declarations all up and the people of Pennsylvania have been in a state of emergency for well over half of Governor Wolf’s tenure in office.
The most recent restrictions bellowed down to us from Harrisburg seem to have gone too far for Pennsylvanians. As of December 12th, indoor dining in restaurants is forbidden. On December 13th, my beautiful wife and I went out to eat. We were clearly not the only ones feeling defiant of the governor. We found a coffee shop and cafe that made the decision to remain open. There were about fifty other people there. The little place was probable around 75% full. Diners included couples, families with children, and one party was obviously from multiple households. A quick search of social media and anyone can quickly find lists of restaurants that say they will not close.
One such social media post was the little cafe we visited. They kindly said that their dining room will remain open and offered phone-in, online, and curbside as options for anyone not comfortable dining indoors. Personal choice? Personal responsibility? Those options apparently aren’t viable in Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania. I suspect that any restaurant that has the audacity to post their defiance on social media will be visited by some state government official soon. I hope that I am wrong about that.
I hope that the people of Pennsylvania have had enough violations of their rights. I hope small business owners in the commonwealth stand up for their fifth amendment rights. “No person shall be....deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”. Clearly, an executive order does not qualify as due process.
It is the government’s job to protect our rights.