Sen. Lisa Baker issued the following statement on Gov. Wolf’s decision to veto Senate Bill 490, which would have required Senate confirmation of future gubernatorial appointments for director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA):
“Public safety is a core function of government. This position is responsible for coordinating state response to all natural and manmade disasters, including communication among local governments, and oversight of federal disaster relief and emergency response funding.
Following the substandard response to the St. Valentine’s Day Storm of 2007, an independent report faulted the Commonwealth for not adopting emergency management as a core principle, and found a lack of awareness among all levels of the state’s system. With the frequency and severity of disasters and emergencies on the rise, the extent of planning and the challenges of response have risen significantly.
Others with substantial community protection and safety responsibilities are subject to Senate confirmation. Legislative scrutiny and review help keep all of us accountable. By providing an opportunity for public examination of the credentials of those seeking to hold this position, we elevate the role to a cabinet-level post and improve communication between the legislative and executive branches in respect to emergency management and response.
Confirmation of the PEMA Director is a positive step towards increasing accountability. It is disappointing that the governor chose to put personal prerogative above public policy considerations.”
Andrew M. Seder
District Communications/Constituent Services for Pike and Wayne Counties
Office of Senator Lisa Baker
2512 Route 6
Hawley, PA 18428