PA Senate Bill Fuels Disagreement Over Separation Of Powers


HARRISBURG (WSKG) — A state senate committee has advanced a bill that would somewhat impede the governor from enacting “economically significant” resolutions. It defines an “economically significant” resolution as one that would earn or cost more than a million state dollars. 

Leaders of the GOP-controlled chamber said the measure would balance out the state’s branches of power. Democrats and the governor say it would do the opposite.

Currently, if legislators take issue with a resolution from the governor, they can contest it by filing a disapproval resolution, which would have to be approved or vetoed by the governor.

A veto can by overridden by a two-thirds vote.

But under the new law, significant resolutions would have to get legislators’ approval as a matter of course.

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa said that would hand too much power to the legislative majority.

“We believe this particular piece of legislation violates the separation of powers doctrine,” he said in his committee testimony, before urging his colleagues to vote no.

The measure passed despite the Democratic opposition.

Costa’s Senate counterpart, Republican Jake Corman, disagreed.

“This is just another in a series of bills we’ve been trying to run to try to have legislature input on how money’s being spent here in Harrisburg,” he said.

In a statement, Governor Tom Wolf’s office said he “has serious concerns with attempts to hinder the executive branch’s ability to enact regulations.”