If the pandemic of 2020 has done anything, it has pointed out serious flaws in our laws and our process of interpreting the PA Constitution.
Those flaws are exemplified most recently with the Act 323 of 1978, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Services Code which as become the source of so much consternation in our Commonwealth.
The PA Supreme Court decided that HR 836 must be presented to the Governor for signature despite the Act 323 of 1978 which indicated that the emergency declaration could be ended by the vote of the legislature. The Supreme Court in a prior case had indicated that the process was legislative and seemed to indicate that HR 836 had followed that process.
When the Governor, under a King’s Bench Authority process, asked the Supreme Court to intervene on HR 836, the Court reversed itself and indicated that the resolution must be presented to the Governor. The governor promptly vetoed the resolution which is currently the subject of an effort to overturn the Governor’s veto.
Because the Supreme Court viewed a rather procedural part of the Constitution, Article 3, Section 9, to be able to supersede our Constitutional rights, we, in the House of Representatives have turned to a Declaration of Suspension to reestablish our basic liberties.
Under the authority of Article 1, Section 12 of the Pennsylvania Constitution we, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth, will be declaring the immediate suspension of Act 323 of 1978, Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Services Code.
Article 1, § 12. Power of suspending laws.
No power of suspending laws shall be exercised unless by the Legislature or by its authority.
Article 1, Section 12 of the Pennsylvania Constitution grants all power of suspending laws solely to the legislative branch. It does not allow or provide for judicial or executive branch interference in the suspension of laws.
Additionally, judicial and executive branch interference is precluded by Article 1, Section 25.
Article 1, § 25. Reservation of powers in people.
To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.
Just as the Declaration of Independence announced the birth of our great nation in 1776 in defense of our inalienable rights, a Declaration of Suspension shall protect and preserve the constitutionally affirmed rights of our citizens today.
Our efforts now are designed to rein in a deeply flawed law as seen in Act 323 of 1978 in order to craft a more effective emergency declarations law which we have already introduced as an amendment to the PA Constitution and which has passed both in the House and the Senate.
Please note that additional legal remedies are also being pursued with the U. S. court system and the Department of Justice.
Now is the time for our citizens to be recognized as the reason for government and not the other way around. Our government must be a government by the “consent of the governed.”
In that vein, and in a very sad twist, Act 323 was enacted on November 26, 1978 under a sine die period after the general election and before adjournment when members were voting on a bill but the general election was already over. Gov Shapp (D) was the outgoing governor and the democrat controlled House and Senate were in control. In the next session in on December 1 of that same year, a republican governor was awaiting inauguration with the PA House flipping from democrat to republican. It is this type of sine die legislation that has caused such an uproar across the Commonwealth.
Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives. He is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel, a CPA and specializes in corporate restructuring. He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at frankryanPA101@gmail.com.
Posted on 24 Aug 2020, 19:56 - Category: Op Ed