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Friday, February 3, 2023

Pennsylvania Republicans try to block school mask orders

The debate over requiring Pennsylvania schoolchildren to wear masks in schools and childcare centers continued in Harrisburg on Tuesday, with a letter from the House of Representatives Health Committee challenging Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam’s power to order masks in schools.

In late August, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf asked the Congress to return to Harrisburg and pass a task requiring all schools and childcare centers to wear masks for children to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The leadership of the Congress led by the Republican Party refused.

Within a few days, Beam issued an order requiring masks to be worn in K-12 school buildings, early learning programs, and childcare providers.

“I firmly believe that the minister has no right to declare this order because it is interpreted as a law,” Kathy Rapp, the chairman of the Majority Party of the Health Committee, said at the committee meeting on Tuesday. Drinking half a pint of milk for lunch is no different. We will look at it and say that this is not the law; they don’t have to obey that because he has no authority. The same is true for the Minister of Health. We are not in a declared emergency. In our opinion, she No right to issue this order and make people obey it.”

Republican Rapp pointed out that only the General Assembly can make laws. The governor only signs or refuses to sign the law. But the cabinet secretary cannot draft or sign laws. The previous health department masking order was issued based on an emergency statement, but the emergency is no longer valid.

In the split vote, the committee agreed to write to the Commonwealth Joint Committee on Documents requesting it to decide whether or not Beam’s order should be promulgated as a law.

The minority chairman of the Health Committee, Democrat Dan Frankel, said that the letter was exercised on the political stage and said that minority members would not support sending this letter. Frankel sat a few inches away from Rapp, who was not wearing a mask. He took off his mask and started talking.

Frankel said: “Although the review process is an important inspection of the entire administrative department, we think it is not suitable for responding to the rapid spread of highly infectious viruses such as COVID-19.” “Without a mitigation policy, there is no such thing as face-to-face learning. We will either allow the outbreak of the epidemic that has caused school closures and isolation of children, or we will take responsible action and continue to adopt science-based policies to protect children in the classroom.”

Rapp reminded committee members that nothing can stop anyone from wearing a mask.

“The problem here is what we think is not the power of the law’s order,” Rapp said. “What would prevent any other secretary from issuing orders without the rule of law? No supervision? I just don’t believe this is constitutional.”

Frankel took off his mask again and spoke.

Frankel said: “I am surprised that we have reached the point and time when public health has become a partisan and political issue.” Health is placed on different platforms. Public health should not be politicized. This is what is happening here.”

The letter was hand-delivered to the Commonwealth Joint Commission on Documents on Tuesday, which began its work. Committee Chairman Vince DeLiberato told The Epoch Times that a letter has been sent to the Ministry of Health, which must respond by October 4, and then the two parties will have one week to send a letter to the Ministry of Health. The committee submits legal arguments. After that, the hearing will be held in the week of October 18.

If the Commonwealth Joint Commission on Documents believes that the Ministry of Health’s mask order should be a regulation that needs to be promulgated, the department has 180 days to complete the lengthy promulgation (approval) process or stop executing the order. If the committee finds that the order does not need to be issued, the order is effective.

No matter which party loses, the House Health Committee or the Department of Health can appeal the decision to the Federal Court.

DeLiberato said that at the same time, the mask order is considered effective.

Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist, covering the most interesting but sometimes hidden news about Pennsylvania’s politics, courts, and the Commonwealth. Send her your story idea:


This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

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