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Professor Shares Expertise with Pennsylvania Senate Committee

Dr. Roberts PA State Committee

Dr. Brian Roberts testifying before the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee on a July 18, 2022, video conference.

This summer, Dr. Brian Roberts, chair of Principia’s Political Science Department, testified during a Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee hearing. The testimony centered on Pennsylvania’s current “Governor and Lieutenant Governor Disability Procedure Law,” an area of state law that Dr. Roberts is familiar with after researching and co-writing a chapter on “Gubernatorial Incapacity and Succession Provision” in the 2005 Book of the States. His co-author, Dr. Brian Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois, also testified at the committee hearing.

The disability procedure law provides a chain of authority should the governor and/or lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania find themselves unable to perform the duties of their office for a brief period—as in the case of a medical procedure. In recent months, some Pennsylvania senators raised concerns after the law was put into practice during the absence of the lieutenant governor due to a medical emergency in May.

Dr. Roberts shared his insight on examples of legal provisions concerning gubernatorial incapacity by other states and key areas for concern when writing and revising this type of law. Dr. Roberts and Dr. Gaines answered questions from state senators about what to include in the definition of “incapacitated,” who might decide whether the law needed to be enacted, and whether a medical professional should be included in the decision-making process. State Senator David Argall, Chair of the State Government Committee, noted the information gathered at the hearing was “invaluable.”