Stay Informed: Amendments to PA Constitution on May 18th, 2021 Primary ballot
It's critical that we vote in the Primary to protect the Commonwealth when disasters or emergencies occur. Here is the wording of each amendment question and my recommendation on voting:
Article 1 Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual's race or ethnicity?
I urge everyone to vote NO. While this seems to be a good idea at face value. The Republican majority of the state legislature pointedly excluded any mention of sexual orientation. This opens the door to active discrimination against the LGBT community, which would be inplicity sanctioned by PA's highest law. In addition, there is concern that this amendment will be used to over-turn affirmative action initiatives in PA.
Article III Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration - and the powers of the Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?
Please vote NO. The last thing we should do is delay action by educating and then calling for a vote by the PA Senate and House before action can be taken during a disaster or an emergency. Aside from the delay that a vote would require, this amendment can politicize taking a necessary a action. (COVID mask wearing is a good example where safety measures were politicized, causing needless exposure and death) This amendment ties the hands of, and will limit the power and responsibility of the Governor and adds nothing of value to help the Commonwealth when disaster or emergencies occur.
Article IV Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?
Please vote NO. As I see it, this is a power grab that reduces the Governor's ability to act in an emergency. Actions taken when an emergency or disaster occurs should not be limited to a specific timeframe, but should be addressed as needs unfold. Requiring a vote by the General Assembly before action can be taken is a needless waste of time that puts the Commonwealth at risk. This amendment adds nothing of value to disaster or emergency preparedness. Please share this information with everyone on your email list, and remind everyone to vote. Thanks. Ellen