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The pandemic that began over a year ago has forever impacted our lives and undoubtedly will continue to alter the way we live for the foreseeable future. Governor Wolf’s unilateral decision to shut down our economy, close our schools and churches and put our trust in his ability to manage the Commonwealth through this crisis has been a complete and utter failure. Thankfully, much of the state’s economy is slowly beginning to reopen as the vaccine rollout continues.

Unfortunately, due to the Governor’s nonsensical businesses mandates, many family-owned small shops and restaurants have already been forced to close permanently. As a business owner myself, I know firsthand that the best decisions are made on the ground level, not from high above by an autocrat hiding in his Philadelphia penthouse apartment. We need to work with and trust the private sector to operate in a safe and responsible manner. Business owners care about their employees and customers safety and can be entrusted to implement safety guidelines to protect everyone.

Across this Commonwealth, businesses, both large and small, are saying we need help. But, it’s not the help you might be thinking; they aren’t asking for additional loans and grants, they are asking for employees! As I have travelled throughout the 48th senatorial district these past few months, I have never seen so many help-wanted signs, they are literally scattered everywhere. It’s time to tell people they can return to work safely.

We need to stop the programs that are paying folks more to stay at home than to return to the workforce. We must reenact the mandatory search for work requirement to continue to receive unemployment compensation benefits. The additional money added to unemployment claims has become a detriment to getting the economy restarted again and growing the labor force. As businesses are expected to return to normalcy so to should these safety-net programs.

As I continue to listen and learn from the citizens of the 48th, one message is clear; government overreach has devastating effects. Pennsylvania’s economy is at a critical point and I fear that the Governor will choose to arbitrarily close it down again. I ask, in addition to voting for me on May 18, you vote Yes on the Constitutional Amendment questions one & two and limit the Governor’s emergency powers so he can’t inflict the damage upon the private sector again.

Chris Gebhard is the Republican nominee for the Special Election for Senate District 48 on May 18. Senate District 48 is comprised of all of Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties.