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Pa. Democratic lawmakers face difficult vote on high school sports bill that Gov. Wolf plans to veto
Pennlive ^ | 11 September A.D. 2020 | Jan Murphy

Posted on 09/11/2020 4:54:38 PM PDT by lightman

A difficult vote may lie ahead for 56 Democratic slate lawmakers who joined their Republican colleagues in supporting a bill that would give local schools the authority to make decisions about holding sports and other activities, including how many spectators can attend.

That bill was presented to Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday. He has said he will veto it and can take up to 10 days to do that. Wolf has recommended schools hold off on sports this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic and his administration wants strict limits on the number of spectators.

If Wolf follows through with his veto threat, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County, said the chamber will attempt an override vote of a veto on this bill at first opportunity. If that effort succeeds, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said the Senate will subsequently follow suit.

House Bill 2787 passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support. All Republican members in both chambers voted for it as did 46 Democrats in the House and 10 in the Senate.

To override a veto of this bill, at least 26 Democrats in the House and at least five in the Senate would have to join with their Republican colleagues to allow this measure to become law.

“Just what I always wanted, a veto override on a difficult vote,” said Rep. Michael Schlossberg, D-Lehigh County.

G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist from Franklin & Marshall College, said without a doubt, this would put those 56 Democrats in a tough spot while giving some glee to Republicans who are frustrated with some of Wolf’s handling of the pandemic.

Democratic lawmakers would have to decide whether they support their party’s governor or whether they want to stand on the principle that led them to support the bill in the first place. If they choose the former, Madonna said, “They are going to have to provide a rationale for why they voted for it but won’t vote to override. Some Democrats who do that will find it’s not inconsistent, and not important enough to fight the governor on.”

The bill grants public and private K-12 schools the authority to decide whether to hold sports and extracurricular activities. Wolf has said he strongly recommends against sports and extracurriculars at least until January due to concerns related to the pandemic. But he has said he won’t issue an order barring sports or extracurriculars.

The legislation requires school officials to establish safety protocols for spectators attending these events. They also would be responsible for setting limits on attendance to ensure social distancing and to comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Considerations for Youth Sports.

Currently, the Wolf Administration’s guidelines cap attendance at 25 people at indoor events and 250 at outdoor activities but no more than 50% of a venue’s permitted capacity.

Those limits include the players and coaches, so in many cases, the guidelines would prohibit any spectators for some sports.

“A high school volleyball game with two teams, coaches and referees could easily exceed the 25-person limit for indoor sports with just participants. In fact, some schools are planning to have portions of their teams waiting in other parts of the school until they are called on to play," stated Rep. Mike Reese, R-Westmoreland County, in an op-ed urging the governor to sign the bill.

He went on: “But as we know, volleyball games are routinely played in those large capacity gymnasiums that can have seating for 1,000 people or more. If a school district elected to open the gymnasium to just 25% of that capacity (250), this would allow for the entire teams to be present as well as family members.”

Wolf explained his opposition to this bill at an unrelated news conference on Thursday.

“I’m not sure we want to give that unilateral responsibility or authority to anybody," Wolf said. "I think that virus is real. The virus is out there. I think we ought to recognize that and I don’t see why this bill adds anything to the the safety, health, or economic or educational value of Pennsylvania.”

Madonna said what the governor likely doesn’t want to see happen is to see this become a precedent for Democratic lawmakers to oppose him on other bills for the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2023. Already, some Democrats have joined Republicans in supporting measures to reverse some of the decisions the governor has made with emergency powers granted him through his COVID-19 disaster declaration.

Schlossberg said he’s open to conversation about whether to support or oppose an override of the governor’s veto on this bill. He was among those who voted to support when it passed the House by a vote of 155-47 on Sept. 2. The Senate passed it a week later by a vote of 39-11.

Schlossberg said, “I do think our school districts are better positioned to make these decisions than Harrisburg. That being said, one of the concerns raised by the governor’s office is that this could make things worse for if and when there’s a second wave. I’d like to hear more about that line of thinking, because if that’s truly the case, I may reconsider my vote.” Putting Pa. Democratic lawmakers' loyalties to the test

Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York County, shown here speaking her at a Thursday news conference with Gov. Tom Wolf (behind her), said she thinks local school officials have the I think they have the "talent and the ability" to make decisions about holding sports and activities amid this pandemic and how many people can attend them. Sept. 10, 2020 Jan Murphy |

Rep. Carol Hill-Evans also voted for the bill. When asked if she would support a veto override on it, the York County Democrat said she favors local control and has supported decisions made by York’s school board on many occasions.

“I think they have the talent and the ability to be able to make those decisions,” Hill-Evans said. "I appreciate what the governor is saying. I agree with him but at some point you have to land on one way or the other. In this case until and unless the districts prove –and the decisions they make prove – otherwise, I think we need to give them a chance.”

Allegheny County Democrat Rep. Dan Miller also was among those who supported the bill but said he is not ready to take a stand one way or another right now on a veto override vote.

“We’ll see what he does,” Miller said.

On the other hand, two other southwestern Democrats who occasionally break ranks with their caucus to support Republican initiatives including on this bill said without question, they will support a veto override on this bill.

“I will vote emphatically in favor of an override if the governor follows through with his veto of HB 2787,” said Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Greene County. “I urged Governor Wolf to increase the capacity for restaurants to 50 percent and will remind him again that our communities around our commonwealth are not the same. Our schools know their situation best. I trust them to be able to manage high school sports safely. These types of decisions regarding school reopening should have happened back in July when our school superintendents were begging for guidance.”

Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny County, said local school officials know their stadium and gymnasium capacities, “not the governor. One size dozen’t fit all. The locals can follow the safety guidelines i.e. masks and social distancing and decide on the appropriate spectator numbers. It is absolutely wrong to prevent these student athletes from participating in their chosen sport(s) and not allowing the presence of their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and others from cheering them on.”

Kortz went on to say Wolf is being hypocritical in that he violated his own guidelines about social distancing and large gatherings by marching in a protest parade against racial injustice in Harrisburg in June as well as a “secret deal” made to allow thousands to attend the Carlisle Car show.

“So those violations of his order are okay because he decided it’s okay and now he feels he has to clamp down on our student athletes’ dreams?” Kortz said. “The bottom line is that the locals know best how to do this safely. I’ll be voting 'YES’ to the veto override.”

Reese noted in his op-ed piece that Wolf allowed local school officials to decide how to deliver instruction based on the level of community transmission in their county.

“It is just as logical to allow decisions about the sports and activities portion of our children’s educational experience to be local too,” Reese stated.

The bill’s sponsor went on to say: "As a former high school athlete, and father with three children who are active in school sports and activities, I understand the importance of having your family in the stands to cheer you on. I don’t think government should ever be in the way of a student and their family. House Bill 2787 would ensure local decisions, based on local conditions. "

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: letthekidsplay; pa; tommiethecommie; wolf
Awww....poor Donkey babies!
1 posted on 09/11/2020 4:54:38 PM PDT by lightman
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To: fatima; Fresh Wind; st.eqed; xsmommy; House Atreides; Nowhere Man; PaulZe; brityank; Physicist; ...

Pennsylvania Ping!

Please ping me with articles of interest.

FReepmail me to be added to the list.

2 posted on 09/11/2020 4:55:18 PM PDT by lightman (I am a binary Trinitarian. Deal with it!)
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To: lightman

It ain’t hard, tell Wolf to stuff it.

3 posted on 09/11/2020 4:57:52 PM PDT by mylife (Opinions: $1, Today's Special, Half Baked: 50c)
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To: lightman

I’d like to pound that little shit Wolf into the ground with a post driver.

4 posted on 09/11/2020 4:58:11 PM PDT by Viking2002 (When Alice Cooper said "School's out FOREVER!", I didn't take him to be a prophet.)
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To: mylife

I actually find this whole story pathetic. These legislators care more about something as extraneous as high school sports than they do about protecting the rights of the business owners they represent.

5 posted on 09/11/2020 5:22:52 PM PDT by Alberta's Child ("We're human beings ... we're not f#%&ing animals." -- Dennis Rodman, 6/1/2020)
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To: Viking2002

He could serve as a pier piling.. it’d be the first time that cretin ever did anything productive.

6 posted on 09/11/2020 5:27:52 PM PDT by ScottinVA (First, letÂ’s deal with the election; then weÂ’ll deal with BLM.)
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To: mylife

If some of these Democrats would grow a set and do the right thing.
Our small school gym could easily hold 150 distanced for indoor games but it’s capped to 25. Give me a friggin break.
WOLF SUX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7 posted on 09/11/2020 6:50:33 PM PDT by bantam
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To: mylife

Wolf has his orders because Pennsylvania is the ticket to the White House for Biden. Their thinking is PAIN and blame Trump.

8 posted on 09/11/2020 6:55:20 PM PDT by shanover (...To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.-S.Adams)
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To: lightman

There’s nothing difficult about the vote.

9 posted on 09/11/2020 7:07:48 PM PDT by ConservativeInPA ("War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." - George Orwell, 1984)
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To: shanover

Make life as miserable as possible.

No alcohol sales in restaurants after 10 PM beginning September 21.

No spectators at sports.

Face diapers forever.

10 posted on 09/11/2020 7:17:13 PM PDT by lightman (I am a binary Trinitarian. Deal with it!)
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To: lightman

It’s not a difficult vote.

The demagogue Wold needs to be put in his place, post haste.

11 posted on 09/11/2020 7:20:06 PM PDT by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.....)
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To: lightman

My kids are being taught how to handle autism by me teaching them sports with me and the children not having any masks on $#@# the government.

12 posted on 09/11/2020 7:29:27 PM PDT by Morpheus2009 (If you want me to be afraid, then be consistent in your logic, standards, and your lies!)
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To: Viking2002

I don’t want to see him in close proximity to me at all.

13 posted on 09/11/2020 7:30:22 PM PDT by Morpheus2009 (If you want me to be afraid, then be consistent in your logic, standards, and your lies!)
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To: shanover

Good luck with that because they have succeed in getting me to utterly despise the Democrats. Not even Obama succeeded there. They also succeeded in getting me to despise my own governor a whole lot as well.

14 posted on 09/11/2020 7:31:43 PM PDT by Morpheus2009 (If you want me to be afraid, then be consistent in your logic, standards, and your lies!)
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To: lightman

Screw Demoncats are their stupid shutdowns SIX MONTHS OUT !

15 posted on 09/11/2020 10:51:36 PM PDT by Truthoverpower (The guv-mint you get is the Trump winning express ! Yea haw ! Trump pence II! Furthermore if they)
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