Dush: School Mask Mandate is Unacceptable and Unconstitutional

HARRISBURG- Sen. Cris Dush (R-25) released the following statement regarding the new mask mandate for K-12 and daycares.

“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.”

Contact: Nathan Clark; nclark@pasen.gov

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