OP-ED: It is time to defend our freedoms

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, our freedoms are in danger of disappearing.

The government intrusion in our lives is worse than ever before.

Benjamin Franklin was asked in 1787, “what do we have Mr. Franklin, a Republic or a king?”

He responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

It is time to rise up and defend our freedoms.

Unfortunately, the state’s highest court sided with the Governor this week in refusing to terminate the COVID-19 emergency declaration, that has been in place since mid-March.

The emergency declaration served its purpose – we flattened the curve. We stayed home, we did not go to Church, we did not celebrate Easter with our families and we did not have picnics observing Memorial Day.

Together, we persevered.

When the Governor announced in early June that he was extending the emergency declaration for another 90 days, the General Assembly took action and passed House Resolution 836.

With a bipartisan vote, lawmakers terminated the emergency declaration.

Unhappy that he was not part of the process, Governor Wolf – who has not consulted with the General Assembly before imposing any of his flawed edicts – fought the matter in court.

The court announced this week that it is siding with the Governor.

Where do we go from here?

First, continue to hold the Governor and Health Secretary Levine accountable for their failed actions.

Levine’s decision to place COVID-19 patients in nursing homes resulted in 2/3 of all virus-related deaths in the state.  But in the most horrific sign of hypocrisy and medical malpractice, Levine’s mother was snuck out of a facility, even though we weren’t given the same benefit.

The hypocrisy and double-standards radiating from the administration are sickening. It is no wonder Americans and Pennsylvanians have such little faith in government officials.

Meanwhile, Governor Wolf continues to operate as an autocrat, even though there are (supposed to be) co-equal branches of government.

Sadly, Wolf has been the least transparent governor in our state’s history.

Case in point: the Senate held an April hearing on the Governor’s flawed business waiver program. Administration officials promised they would release details on how the program was implemented and what – if any – protocols were used in determining which businesses could remain open.

Months have passed, and the Senate is still waiting on that information. Does it even exist?

When the administration refused to provide the info, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee issued a subpoena.

Guess what? The Governor refused to comply.

As a result, the issue is now a legal matter.

I would prefer that those taxpayer dollars be allocated to help our vulnerable Pennsylvanians who have suffered during this pandemic…not being wasted in court over transparency.

The misinformation and fear tactics being disseminated from the administration are inappropriate, childish and unacceptable.

For example: the mask debacle.

Despite the recent announcement by the Health Secretary, who cited an outdated law from 1955 as rationale for imposing an unenforceable mandate, there is no state law requiring you to wear a mask in public.

In fact, the Governor has vetoed every piece of legislation sent to him, that would have encoded masks into state law.

Businesses, of course, are private entities and may implement their own policies, no different than the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” requirement that has been in place for decades.

For the record, every piece of legislation that I have introduced – which would have safely and methodically reopened our state for business – necessitated masks via state law.

The Governor opposes that common sense approach and would prefer to rule by edict.

So, instead of legislation (which would have protected the health, safety and welfare of patrons. business owners and employees), the Governor and Health Secretary now want you to wear mask every time you leave your home.

Do we really need to be told by government bureaucrats that we must wear a mask while walking our dog, getting our mail or jogging through the neighborhood?

It screams of government overreach.

I encourage everyone to contact the Health Secretary and Governor directly. Hold the elected official and unelected bureaucrat accountable.

Governor Wolf.

PHONE: 717-787-2500; WEBSITE: https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/

Dr. Levine.

PHONE: ​717-787-6436; EMAIL: ralevine@pa.gov

Second, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling and the administration’s new mask mandate, the fight is not over.

Senate Resolution 323 is still alive; it is my companion version to House Resolution 836, which would terminate the Emergency Declaration.

Since the Governor was upset that HR836 was not sent to his desk for approval (even though the applicable portion of Title 35 does not mention the Governor), let’s send SR323 to his desk.

It is my hope that the legislature can do this with additional bipartisan support.

Only two Senate Democrats voted for HR836. It is my hope that more of my colleagues from across the aisle will do the right thing, and support SR323.

With two more votes, SR323 would be veto-proof on the Senate side. Of course, this action would also need a veto-proof vote on the House side, as well.

I recently encouraged my colleagues to convene an emergency session of the Senate to pass SR323.

Instead of going home for the summer, we need to work on behalf of Pennsylvanians and end the emergency declaration.

This is too important to sit aside and let bureaucrats control our lives.

We’ve got to hang together and remind Governor Wolf that he derives power from the consent of the people. 

We no longer consent to his abuse of power and tramping of our rights with his ridiculous color codes and unconstitutional edicts.

In the film Independence Day, actor Bill Pullman – portraying President Thomas Whitmore – rallies comrades by stating: “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today, we celebrate Independence Day.

Let’s walk as free people.

Senator Mastriano represents the 33rd District in the Pennsylvania Senate. The District includes Adams County and parts of Franklin, Cumberland and York counties.