Primary Election Ballot Questions
DON’T BE FOOLED!
What a YES vote means…
Biased Wording of Ballot Questions Threatens to Torpedo Constitutional Amendments
This primary election, voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote on proposed constitutional amendments that will affect our local community, including our children’s education and the survival of our local small businesses.
The language on the ballot is very biased, which could result in voter confusion. Instead of simply notifying voters what the amendments would do, the Wolf Administration developed slanted politically charged language that not only scares Pennsylvanians, but more importantly confuses voters into casting a vote that they would not normally choose.
Ballot Question 1
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 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?
YES Vote Means
A majority of state lawmakers, elected by the people, can vote to end emergency declarations and restrictions on citizens.
NO Vote Means
A governor can unilaterally continue emergency restrictions indefinitely even if a legislative majority votes to end them.
Ballot Question 2
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?
YES Vote Means
Emergency declarations are limited to 21 days unless the General Assembly, elected by the people, approves longer.
NO Vote Means
Governor unilaterally can extend declarations, business closures & restrictions indefinitely.
Ballot Question 3
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?
YES Vote Means
The Pennsylvania Constitution would prohibit the denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity.
NO Vote Means
The Pennsylvania Constitution would continue to lack these protections as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Limiting Emergency Powers Is NOT a Partisan Issue
Although the debate about these amendments started with the governor’s handling of the pandemic, the issue should not be decided on partisan lines.
These changes would apply to all future governors – both Republicans and Democrats – and all future emergencies.
Ballot Questions FAQ
Will voting YES on the amendments immediately end the current emergency declaration?
No. Voting in favor of the amendments would only give lawmakers the opportunity to collaborate with the Executive Branch to avoid many of the negative consequences we have seen as a result of Governor Wolf’s unilateral actions.
Is the General Assembly able to meet quickly enough to respond to emergencies?
Absolutely. The PA General Assembly proved its ability to move quickly after the governor’s COVID-19 shutdown orders, becoming the first state legislature in the nation to meet virtually in late March.
Within the first three weeks of the pandemic shutdowns, lawmakers moved quickly to delay the primary election, authorize a new small business assistance program, put emergency provisions in place for local governments, remove mandates from our schools and ensure our frontline health care workers had the supplies and PPE they needed to respond to the pandemic.
Can the General Assembly meet frequently enough to extend emergency declarations every 21 days?
Yes. In the case of an extended emergency situation, Senate and House leaders can alter the session schedule to accommodate votes to extend an emergency declaration every three weeks, if necessary.
Would the state risk losing federal money for food assistance and other emergency funding if the amendments are approved?
No. Legislative leaders intend to work with the governor cooperatively and in the best interests of the people of Pennsylvania to preserve access to federal emergency relief funding, while protecting lives and livelihoods.
Will these amendments apply only to the current governor?
No. This would apply to all future governors, Republicans and Democrats.
Senate Republicans Discuss What a YES Vote Means
In the News
Their view: Vote to protect communities and small businesses – Times Leader
Voters have 3 questions to consider on May 18 – Times News
Fair wording needed for state ballot questions – Williamsport Sun-Gazette
Ballot questions should be clear, but two written by the Wolf administration don’t pass the test – Spotlight PA
Gov. trying to influence with wording – Altoona Mirror
Voters can limit the power of the governor on May 18 – PennLive
Op-ed: Governor Wolf is Trying to Pull the Wool Over Your Eyes. Don’t Let Him – Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, Senator Scott Martin, Senator John DiSanto
Don’t fear debate: Give the people’s representatives a voice in pandemic response Senator Bob Mensch (Daily Local News)
OP-ED: Wolf, Shapiro fail on amendments – Senator Camera Bartolotta (Observer-Reporter)
Guest column: Why voting ‘Yes’ is the right answer on May 18 Pennsylvania primary – Senator Pat Stefano (Pottstown Mercury)
(Fifty-)Two Weeks To Flatten The Curve And The Constitutional Amendments For Change – Senator Judy Ward (Morrisons Cove Herald)
Sen. Mensch: Look out for misleading wording in May ballot question – Senator Bob Mensch (Pottstown Mercury)