HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed House Bill 2787 Monday, Sept. 21, a bill which would have left all decisions on school fall activities up to individual school districts.
The bill passed both the Pennsylvania House and Senate with a two-thirds majority, enough to override the veto. The bill will go back to the state legislature for another vote.
“This bill is entirely unnecessary,” Wolf said in a statement announcing the veto. “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.”
Essentially, the bill would allow school districts to determine on their own whether it is safe for spectators to attend sporting events, indoors or out, and, if so, how many people may attend. Wolf had previously mandated gathering restrictions of 25 indoors/250 outdoors.
House Republicans wasted little time responding to the veto.
“House Bill 2787 represents the good bipartisan work that has been done by the General Assembly to represent the voice of the people during this difficult time, despite the efforts of Gov. Wolf to stand in our way,” Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Center/Mifflin) said in a statement. “In vetoing this bill, Gov. Wolf stands directly opposed to children and families looking for some semblance of normalcy and to receive the numerous invaluable benefits of fully participating in school sports. In contradiction to his word, Gov. Wolf is once again going back on his self-proclaimed desire for educational decisions to be made at the local level.”
HB2787 was sent to the Governor’s desk Sept. 11, and he had 10 days to sign or veto the bill. Wolf announced his intention to veto almost immediately after the bill was passed.
“This bill does nothing to promote public health or ensure that our children have a safe learning environment,” Wolf said in his veto statement. “As we reopen our schools, we need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions to keep ourselves, our communities, and our children healthy. These mitigation efforts not only help keep our children, teachers, and staff healthy, they also help keep our schools open.”
Also muddying the waters is the recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William S. Stickman IV that said Wolf’s gathering restrictions were unconstitutional. Wolf said he plans to appeal that ruling, and in the meantime, asked school districts to “voluntarily enforce” the gathering restrictions.
For now, HB2787 goes back to the state legislature where, if the previous votes hold, it will become law.
“Over the last six months, Gov. Wolf has upended lives and livelihoods with confusing and inconsistent dictates refusing to work with us to combat this virus,” Benninghoff said. “To once again stand up for children and families, the House will vote to override this ridiculous veto.”