NORRISTOWN, PA – The Chair and Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners
, Valerie A. Arkoosh, MD, MPH and Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr. today issued the following joint statement against House Bill 55
in the Pennsylvania General Assembly:
“We strongly advise members of the PA General Assembly to vote against House Bill 55 as it creates the potential to politicize the response to a public health emergency. Giving lawmakers the power to end a Governor’s Disaster Declaration after 21 days is short-sighted and contradicts sound public policy. This bill as written has the potential to slow, and even stop, essential emergency response operations.
“To date, more than 20,000 Pennsylvanians have died of COVID-19. Over 1,000 of those lives lost represent people who called Montgomery County home. Being able to implement important mitigation measures and direct critical resources during a public health crisis is imperative, and most of all, it saves lives.
“Through the Governor’s COVID-19 Disaster Declaration, Montgomery County ensured the continuity of vital services while also providing our residents with additional assistance during this unprecedented crisis. It has allowed the Commonwealth to rapidly scale response efforts and employ new intervention tactics, such as the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine, which are now being replicated at the county and municipal level.
“In addition, when the Governor declares a state of emergency certain emergency-related costs are eligible for reimbursement from the Commonwealth that would otherwise not be eligible for reimbursement. With an emergency declaration in place, it permits local governments to move more quickly to procure equipment or services needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents. It is imperative that local governments continue to be able to remove red tape during an emergency response.
“House Bill 55 is a sweeping change in policy that will have negative consequences. We urge the members of the PA General Assembly to oppose this bill and uphold the current Disaster Declaration measures. This is the only way we can continue to guarantee the flexibility and allocation of life-saving resources during a public health emergency.”