- Associated Press - Friday, December 4, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a bill on Friday that would give the Republican-controlled Senate a role in appointing the director of the state agency charged with preparing for and responding to disasters.

In his veto message, Wolf said the proposal to require a majority vote of the Senate to confirm the appointment of a Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency director would unnecessarily encroach upon the sole authority granted to the governor more than three decades ago.

“It is imperative that its leader’s path to directing emergency management operations not be unduly obstructed following his or her appointment,” Wolf said. “Any impediment or disruption could have a detrimental impact on public safety and the welfare of the commonwealth and its citizens.”

Sen. Lisa Baker, the Luzerne County Republican who sponsored the bill, said no one in the Wolf administration reached out to hear her point of view before vetoing the measure.

She cited an outside consultant’s critical review of the Rendell administration’s handling of the 2007 Valentine’s Day snowstorm as an example of why the selection of a PEMA director should not be made by the governor alone. Its report said failures by state agencies exacerbated backups along interstate highways in northeastern Pennsylvania that trapped hundreds of motorists in their vehicles for up to 20 hours.

In issuing the veto, the ninth of his 11-month old administration, Wolf “showed more concern about his personal prerogative than the public policy considerations,” Baker said.

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