April 15th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of two bills that would have provided some much-needed clarity and common sense to the process of deciding which businesses can safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures include:
- Senate Bill 613 would have aligned Pennsylvania’s list of essential vs. non-essential businesses with a list developed by the CDC and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that was, at the time, used by 22 other states across the nation. It would have required the governor to create clear guidelines for businesses to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic and permit them to re-open as long as they comply with mitigation strategies.
- To restore local control, Senate Bill 327 would give county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. However, counties would also be given the authority to develop plans to allow other industries to operate if it is safe to do so. The bill also creates a COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force made up of representatives of all three branches of government to identify and address issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency together. The panel would be responsible for developing a recovery plan to restore public services and economic activity when it is safe to do so.
April 30th, 2020: Senator Aument and Senator Yudichak announced their intent to introduce legislation to change the Governor’s emergency declaration powers to promote greater collaboration and transparency.
May 13th, 2020: Senator Aument offered remarks on the Senate floor in favor of Senate Bill 327 and the Lancaster County plan to safely reopen.
May 13th, 2020: Senator Aument voted in favor of a four-bill package that would give county governments more control over reopening their local economies and provide waivers from the Governor’s closure order for a variety of businesses — if they can operate in a manner that protects employees and customers.
May 27th, 2020: Senator Aument and Senator Yudichak introduced the language for their bill to change the Governor’s emergency declaration powers to promote greater collaboration and transparency.
June 9th, 2020: Senator Aument voted to pass House Resolution 836 to immediately terminate the governor’s emergency disaster declaration. He also delivered a speech on the Senate floor explaining the need for this measure and the reasoning for his support of it.
June 10th, 2020: Senator Aument voted to pass Senate Bill 1166, a proposed Constitutional amendment that would limit the length of future emergency declarations to 30 days and require any extension of the declaration to be approved by the General Assembly.
July 1st, 2020: Senators Aument & Martin expressed frustration over PA Supreme Court’s emergency declaration ruling, which declared the General Assembly’s effort to terminate Governor Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration via House Resolution 836 unconstitutional. The Senators vowed to, “…work with leaders in both chambers of the General Assembly to explore every option to rein in Governor Wolf’s largely unchecked power and his gross mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to try to avoid even more damage to our communities.”
July 15th, 2020: The Senate approved legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require legislative approval before a governor can extend an emergency disaster declaration.
December 4th, 2020: Senator Aument signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation introduced by Senator Majority Leader Kim Ward which proposes a Constitutional amendment that would limit the length of future emergency declarations to 30 days and require any extension of the declaration to be approved by the General Assembly. Constitutional amendments are required to pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions and then be approved by Pennsylvania voters in a ballot referendum. The previous version of the bill (Senate Bill 1166) was passed by both chambers in the 2019-20 legislative session which expired on 11/30/2020, but would need to pass both chambers again in the 2021-22 legislative session before it could be considered finally by Pennsylvania voters.