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Oberlander, James Respond to Wolf’s Veto of Sports Spectator Bill

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 @ 12:09 AM

Posted by exploreClarion

OberlanderCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Two local representatives issued statements in response to Governor Wolf’s veto of House Bill 2787 which would have given school districts the ability to set crowd limits at sporting events.

House Bill 2787, which would give school districts sole discretion to make decisions on sports, including the ability to set their own attendance limits, previously passed both the House and the Senate with more “yes” votes than the two-thirds majority required for an override.

State Representatives Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and R. Lee James (R-Venango/Butler) both issued statements on Monday afternoon questioning Governor Wolf’s action.

Oberlander voiced her disappointment in the governor.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that the governor has vetoed House Bill 2787, legislation that would have allowed local school districts to decide spectator limits for high school sporting events,” Oberlander said in a statement that was posted to her social media.

“This sends a strong message to every single parent, school board member, administrator, and coach that he doesn’t trust their judgment. I know better. I know that our school boards and every family member of an athlete has their best interests at heart – and that includes making sure they are loved and supported on the field or in the gym. The governor is singlehandedly denying these athletes the support of their loved ones.”

Oberlander added that she will be returning to Harrisburg to schedule a vote to override the veto.

“Please know that my colleagues and I are working out the details RIGHT NOW to return to legislative session in Harrisburg and schedule a vote to override this thoughtless veto. It has been clear throughout this pandemic that the governor has no intention of working cooperatively with the legislative branch – the voice of the people. But we certainly are listening to all of you. We thank you for your countless phone calls, emails and words of support,” Oberlander said.

James issued a similar statement that was posted to his social media on Monday afternoon.

He stated that Wolf is choosing a one-size-fits-all approach to the state of Pennsylvania.

“Governor Tom Wolf vetoed legislation that would have let local authorities decide if and how it’s safe to allow spectators at outdoor sporting events. Instead, he’s choosing a one-size-fits-all approach for the whole state.

“I join many others in questioning the wisdom of denying athletes and their families the opportunity to enjoy their growth and maturation.”

James added that he will be voting to override the veto next week.

“My colleagues and I will be voting to override the governor’s veto next week. If everyone who originally voted for the bill does so again, we’ll be successful,” James said.

In Wolf’s message regarding HB 2787, he indicated that the state has been confronting extraordinary challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic and the health of Pennsylvanians needs to be given high priority.

“As we continue the fight against COVID-19, we need to continue to prioritize the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians and minimize public health risks. However, this bill does nothing to promote public health or ensure that our children have a safe learning environment,” Wolf said.

“This bill is entirely unnecessary. While I recommended against holding school sports before January 2021, it was a recommendation and neither an order nor a mandate. Local school governing bodies have maintained the authority to decide how extracurricular activities, including school sports, proceed at the local level. Furthermore, to the extent COVID-19 cases may rise and spread during the fall and through the upcoming cold and flu season, the Department of Health must maintain the critical authority to limit exposure to COVID-19. Minimizing this exposure is paramount.”

Wolf added that as we reopen our schools, we need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions to keep ourselves, our communities, and our children healthy, indicating that these efforts help keep our schools open.

State lawmakers could override Wolf’s veto; however, the bill again needs to pass both chambers by a two-thirds vote.

Gov. Wolf’s HB 2787 veto message


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