By Doug Mastriano
I am writing in response to a recent misleading op-ed by Mark Stier, of the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, entitled “The Republicans have been dead wrong about reopening (Capital-Star, 6/30/20)”
There were multiple inaccuracies in the editorial. Sadly, your readers may be misinformed about coronavirus legislative efforts.
First, the writer never contacted my office. Perhaps if Mr. Stier investigated the facts, he would understand the Emergency Declaration. However, it is obvious that Mr. Stier is not interested in facts.
Second, the author insinuated that I am an “extremist.”
It is clear that Mr. Stier does not know what that word means.
I view an “extremist” as someone who, like our governor, picks winners and losers in a flawed business waiver process, without telling businesses why – or why not – their waivers were denied or granted.
Similarly, I view an “extremist” as someone who, like our governor, refused to comply with a subpoena seeking details affiliated with that flawed business waiver program.
Personally, I would prefer seeing those costly taxpayer dollars allocated toward vulnerable Pennsylvanians…not defending Gov. Tom Wolf’s lack of transparency in an unnecessary legal battle.
Also, I view an “extremist” as someone who does make many any improvements to the unemployment compensation system. Currently, the state’s Department of Labor & Industry is at least two months behind processing unemployment requests.
Stier is likely unaware that the agency falls under the direct oversight of the governor.
No changes have been made to the system, despite numerous recommendations being offered by the General Assembly.
Sure, the pandemic was a convenient excuse early in the process. But now, it is sad and unacceptable.
And of course, who can forget the real estate industry?
Pennsylvania was the only state that did not permit real estate activities to continue during the pandemic. This premeditated action by the Wolf administration left many without homes.
If that type of flawed philosophy doesn’t represent an “extremist,” please show me a better example.
Third, the writer opined that “Republican leaders…have been demanding an early reopening of businesses.”
Anyone who investigates my track record knows that is untrue.
In fact, I have fully supported a safe and methodical approach to reopening our state for business, as long as strict and specific health and safety guidelines…including recommendations by the Centers for Business Control…are implemented. Those strict and specific health and safety protocols include masks.
Unfortunately, those measures were vetoed, because the Governor prefers that unelected bureaucrats in Harrisburg make those decisions, not public health experts.
Fourth, Stier did manage to get one fact right when he wrote that “Republican leaders … have criticized the demand to wear face masks in public.”
There has been one consistency throughout the pandemic regarding masks: inconsistency.
Wolf even admitted that he’s not a lawyer. Perhaps that is why his administration has repeatedly dodged and evaded specific questions – on a daily basis – regarding masks.
As previously mentioned, the Wolf has vetoed every legislative effort that would have encoded common sense mask regulations into state law.
Again, this approach would have protected business owners, employees and patrons.
Instead, the governor would rather impose an unenforceable edict upon all Pennsylvanians, every time we leave the house.
In my view, adults are capable of making their own health and safety decisions – such as when we walk our dogs or retrieve the mail, for example – and we do not need the government intruding in our lives.
Fifth, the author opined that the governor’s actions “have saved thousands of lives.”
Our statewide nursing facilities would indicate otherwise, the facts show.
Thank you for letting me set the record straight in response to Stier’s erroneous op-ed.
I encourage the governor to set aside partisan politics and do what is right to return Pennsylvania to normal – not a new normal.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Republican, represents the Adams County-based 33rd Senate District. He writes from Harrisburg.