Want to change the Pa. Constitution?

On May 18th, Pennsylvania voters will find three questions on their primary ballot asking for amendments to the state constitution.

The questions follow a joint resolution of the General Assembly, which developed the language. (There is a fourth, non-Constitutional question regarding municipal fire and medical services eligibility for loans.)

The first Constitutional amendment would prohibit restricting or denying an individual’s equal rights in Pennsylvania because of race or ethnicity.

The other two deal with restricting the governor’s powers to declare and extend a state of emergency. They transfer some power from the governor to the legislature.

Hmmm. Governor elected by all the people versus reps elected by parts of Pennsylvania that seem to be in the Stone Age. I wonder if this is somehow racist, because everything else is. This will require more study on my part. 

One thing I can say about the General Assembly is shown above. In its joint resolution, the language uses the male personal pronoun “him,” when referencing the governor, as if it could not even imagine a female governor. More than 40 women have been governors of U.S. states and territories, so the idea of female leadership is not exactly radical.

The amendment to prohibit denying or restricting rights on the basis of race and ethnicity seems to be a no-brainer. Aren’t those broadly, but not specifically, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution?

It reminds me of the argument some make against tightening voting requirements — that it is a solution in search of a problem. In these cases, I look at intent. If it is to protect the process, or the individual, I favor it.

The Pennsylvania Constitution was adopted in 1790, two years after the U.S. Constitution. While it mimics it, there are some differences.

One is the right to bear arms.

“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned,” says Article I, Section 21.

That is more plain and powerful than the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The term “militia” has been debated forever. The Quaker State took just the last part of 2A, as some people call it, dropping the “militia” mishegas. 

As to the question about allowing municipal fire and medical units to secure loans, why not? — unless there’s a trap in there I am unaware of.

Anything’s possible.

6 thoughts on “Want to change the Pa. Constitution?”

  1. HAPPY SATURDAY !!!
    pallie,
    Apparently, the drugs from your last dental visit are still working. You are more mellow today than on previous political blogs.
    To offer some further clarification on the amendments:
    Checks and balances are already always a good thing. Hoping to eliminate prejudice and racist acts, etc should be a non issue. Of course, laws require enforcement.
    Because of the manner of the so called professionals in which they handled this emergency ( pandemic ), this amendment is a must. One person with questionable credentials can not make decisions in a disaster that affects so many. In this particular pandemic, Washington D.C., with all of their specialists, at least stayed on top of the situation, as opposed to our Commonwealth just blindly following orders.
    Finally, as written, our constitution gives our Governor powers that can not be challenged. This pandemic is the perfect example. Governor Wolf imposed sanctions on the Commonwealth and by law, renewed them every 90 days. No questions asked. No challenges. This amendment would give the legislature body the right to challengs and make changes.
    Take the time to educate yourselves on matters that will affect you and your family for a long time.
    Tony

  2. Anything — ANYTHING — that will weaken governor Woof’s [sic] headlock on the State would be appreciated. Based on current law, Woof could keep the mask mandate in place ad infinitum. Anything that would snip the balls of the governor would be appreciated.

  3. Stu I would like more information on why race and ethnicity discrimination needs more protection in our state constitution than is already afforded in the US constitution as you so appropriately point out. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Without more information, I am content to leave it as it is, i.e., in federal court
    Secondly, it is my understanding, perhaps wrong, that the legislature did not write these constitutional amendments upon which we are to vote, but the state department did.
    Anything I can do to help her volunteer departments regarding loans I will gladly do.

    1. I don’t know who drafted the language and it is immaterial.
      My understanding is that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t use the precise wording of equality. If it did, we would not have needed a Voting Rights Act.
      That’s my guess.

  4. I am totally put off by Democrats who, despite their party’s recommendation of a yes vote on the race question, are rallying against it.

    I couldn’t understand how anyone could be against equal rights, their logic is that white people will be able to bring suit for being discriminated against. I can bring suit now, nothing prevents that; I’ll just lose. I though we passed amendments for what they do, not how they might be interpreted in the future.

    It appears that when your life work is fighting racism, you have no interest in putting yourself out of business.

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