DiGirolamo Responds to Block Grant Court Action

HARRISBURG – Rep. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), chairman of the House Human Services Committee, today issued the following response after the Commonwealth Court on Monday allowed a lawsuit challenging the Human Services Block Grant pilot program to proceed:

“The court is doing its due diligence in examining the challenges to the state’s Human Services Block Grant program, and I am pleased that the petitioners have been granted the legal authority to move forward.

“I agree with the court, on page 32 of its decision, in that the law appears to delegate legislative powers to the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), which is a clear violation of the separation of powers. DPW will, of course, have a chance to file an answer, but that is nothing unusual, as every respondent in every case gets a chance to file an answer. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Commonwealth Court has made this preliminary distinction.

“Quite frankly, I don’t see anything new coming to light that would change the court’s conclusions on the issue. DPW has been opposing this case since the fall, and it has already made its strongest legal arguments. There is also nothing unusual in the fact that the court dismissed some constitutional challenges, and allowed other constitutional challenges to move forward. I believe one constitutional violation may be enough to invalidate a law.
“It is frankly puzzling why some choose to dismiss the court’s statements Monday as procedural technicalities. From my perspective, they’re not technicalities; I believe they are statements from the Commonwealth Court applying the law to the block grant pilot program.

“Essentially, the important thing here is what the court ruled, and what the court said. Based on what the court said, I believe moving forward with expansion of the block grant program is ill advised.”