HARRISBURG – Less than a week after the state’s voters opted to approve two constitutional amendments placing limits on a governor’s emergency powers, the state House has approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) requiring an in-depth review of this administration’s COVID-19 response.
Watch Rep. Owlett talk about the need for House Bill 1264
“For more than a year, the Wolf administration has been less than forthcoming about why it made the decisions it did relating to the COVID-19 response, and I think that’s reflected in the outcome of the constitutional amendment questions on last week’s ballot,” Owlett said. “Those amendments will help improve transparency during emergencies in the future, but we still need to look back at this one and hold leaders accountable for the decisions made and to learn from them.”
House Bill 1264
would require the administration to compile a detailed report on issues related to COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and personal protective equipment (PPE). As the bill has advanced through the legislative process, the bill has been expanded to include additional details, particularly relating to the $51 million PPE stockpile and how it’s been managed.
“Many of us are baffled by the administration’s decision to store valuable PPE in a building that sits in a flood plain and is highly susceptible to rats, mice and other vermin,” Owlett said. “Since our relevant committee chairmen weren’t permitted to view the stockpile without signing a non-disclosure agreement, we are going another route to get the information we and the public deserve to know.”
The bill directs the report to include the types of PPE the state acquired and how many of each type, how much has been distributed, how much remains and how much money was spent on it. The report also would answer questions about whether the stockpile is insured; what’s being done to protect it against rodent damage; how much PPE or other medical supplies have been disposed of, and how, because they were expired, damaged or otherwise unusable; the cost of storing the supplies at the Farm Show Complex; and more.
In addition to information about PPE, the bill would also boost capacity for COVID-19 testing; require the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to consider the information in these reports when issuing its annual report to the General Assembly; provide information on the state’s medical oxygen supply; report how many vaccines in the Commonwealth have been wasted, expired or destroyed; and provide privacy for COVID-19 vaccine personal information, a timely issue given the recent data breach involving the personal information of more than 72,000 Pennsylvanians who were contact traced by the state and its contractor, Insight Global.
House Bill 1264 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler