Disaster declaration & equality; proposed constitutional amendments on PA primary ballot

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REGIONAL, Pa. (WTAJ) — Ahead of the May 18th primary election, there are four ballot questions Pennsylvania voters should become familiar with. Three of the questions focus on proposed Constitutional amendments.

Amendments approved by the majority will become law.

Two of the amendments cover emergency disaster declaration, and would transfer emergency declaration power from the Governor to the General Assembly.

“The idea behind these ballot questions is to create a balance of power between the Governor and the legislature, so when we do have a emergency declarations, there’s cooperation between all branches of government,” said Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation.

“This is essentially because the Republican led legislature was frustrated at democratic Governor Tom Wolf, for his policies related to COVID,” said Dennis Plane, professor of politics at Juniata College.

Specifically, Article III would allow the general assembly to end or extend an emergency declaration without needing the governor’s approval.

Article IV limits the declaration to 21 days unless extended by the assembly, and prevents the governor from issuing a new declaration based on the same facts.

“Right now, governor wolf has been been operating and constantly renewing the emergency declaration that he issued over a year ago,” said Stelle.

On another topic, Constitutional Article I would signify freedom from discrimination based on race or ethnicity.

“A lot of these provisions are already in state statute, in the laws, it just enshrines it in the Constitution, so it’s a way of emphasizing that this is a principle we agree on,” said Stelle.

The deadline to register for the primaries is Monday, May 3.

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