Senate Republican Leaders Support Commonwealth Court Action to Lift Stay on Mask Mandate

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) issued the following statement today after a Commonwealth Court ruling paved the way for Governor Wolf’s school mask mandate to potentially end December 4:

“It is encouraging the Commonwealth Court took another proactive step to bring Governor Wolf’s blanket mask mandate to an end.

“Ample guidance is available from qualified health experts, and more Pennsylvanians are getting vaccinated every day. It is far past time for state government to give Pennsylvanians the power to make health and safety decisions for ourselves and our children.

“The governor has a clear choice. He can trust and empower parents and school boards to protect our kids, or he can continue to ignore the will of the people. We encourage Governor Wolf to acknowledge the fact that these decisions should be made locally based on the unique, individual needs of Pennsylvania communities.”

 

CONTACT:           Jason Thompson (Corman)
                                Erica Clayton Wright (Ward) 

Background:

  • After telling school districts in early August that masking decisions would be made locally, The Wolf Administration issued a statewide school mask mandate beginning September 7.
  • The Acting Secretary of Health claimed she had the authority to issue the order under the 1955 Disease Control and Prevention Act.
  • Senator Corman, Representative Jesse Topper and other parents filed a lawsuit September 4 to block the order because the law does not give the Secretary the power to restrict healthy Pennsylvanians.
  • The Commonwealth Court agreed, voiding the Wolf Administration’s school masking order on November 10.
  • Governor Wolf appealed the ruling the same day to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, triggering an automatic stay of the Commonwealth Court ruling under the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure.
  • On November 17, the Commonwealth Court ordered the stay to be lifted effective December 4. If the Wolf Administration and the courts take no further action, the mandate will no longer be in place after that date.
  • Governor Wolf could attempt to extend the mandate through the emergency regulatory process by publishing the regulation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, but this action could also be challenged in court.