Pa. GOP answered Wolf’s pandemic vetoes with constitution changes. The strategy is here to stay.

Pa. GOP answered Wolf’s pandemic vetoes with constitution changes. The strategy is here to stay.

@Topstories, Tom-Wolf

1/17/2022 1:16:00 PM

Pa. GOP answered Wolf’s pandemic vetoes with constitution changes. The strategy is here to stay.

Wolf’s veto tally grew extensively during the pandemic and will likely expand during his final 13 months in office, as Republicans continue to largely bypass his agenda.

But unlike overriding a veto, the amendment process requires consent from only a simple majority of lawmakers and voters. Once they are on the ballot, usually in low-turnout elections, these amendments rarely fail.Common Cause PADemocrats have criticized the Republican-proposed amendments as an attempt to exclude the minority party from policymaking. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) said amendments undermine the executive’s duty to represent the entire state, a job that differs from that of lawmakers, who represent only their constituents.

Read more: PennLive.com »

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The PAGOP will soon run out of dupes at this rate. theRedDeath I will be happy to have the end of his term. The only thing funnier than spotlight PA claiming to be nonpartisan is the notion that constitutional amendments are some kind of workaround or weakening of checks/balances. Those amendments were voted on by both our elected reps (2x) and we peons ourselves.

Maybe Dems will GOTV for these questions this time. . . Republicans will use any trick in the book to grab power and keep it. Going down in history as the worst PA governor ever

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. The uptick in proposed changes belies the lengthy and intensive process of amending the state constitution. First, both the House and Senate must pass the resolution in two separate legislative sessions before it goes to voters. If a majority approves the amendment — and it survives any court challenges — it goes into effect. But unlike overriding a veto, the amendment process requires consent from only a simple majority of lawmakers and voters. Once they are on the ballot, usually in low-turnout elections, these amendments rarely fail. Critics of the tactic argue that amending the constitution to evade a veto undermines the balance of power between the legislature and the governor. Khalif Ali, executive director of the nonpartisan good-government organization Common Cause PA , told Spotlight PA in October that the legislature is attempting to “leech” power from the other branches of government. “They’re using the constitutional amendment to pass legislation they can’t pass through the traditional and appropriate way,” Ali said, calling it unethical. Democrats have criticized the Republican-proposed amendments as an attempt to exclude the minority party from policymaking. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) said amendments undermine the executive’s duty to represent the entire state, a job that differs from that of lawmakers, who represent only their constituents. “These efforts are an end-run around our constitution,” Costa said in a statement. “They’re seeking single-party rule in Pennsylvania and that’s not healthy for a democracy.” Republican lawmakers have countered that constitutional amendments ultimately give Pennsylvanians the power to decide policy. “I believe that, at the end of the day, that people always have the right to decide how to be governed,” House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) said in December. One proposed amendment moving through the legislature would alter what happens when lawmakers vote to disapprove a state regulation. At the moment, the governor can veto such resolutions, leaving it to the legislature to gather a two-thirds majority. State Rep. Eric Nelson (R., Westmoreland) in December argued that the bar is too high. “The idea that it takes a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly to stop a regulation or order that the majority would never start in the first place proves how unbalanced the process is in the first place,” Nelson said . Still, Sam Chen, an assistant professor of political science at Northampton Community College and host of the talk show Face the Issues , said Wolf’s vetoes are a sign that checks and balances are working. Because one party does not have enough votes to overturn a veto alone, majority and minority parties are encouraged to work together with the governor to pass bipartisan policy — in theory. Wolf did sign more than 100 bills and resolutions in 2021, including nearly 20 renaming bridges and highways, a COVID-19 relief package, and a recent measure creating an agency dedicated to expanding broadband coverage in the state. But the Republican majorities also advanced bills that had no chance of becoming law in support of popular conservative priorities, such as restricting voting access, curtailing abortion rights, and allowing permitless concealed carry. Lawmakers sometimes pass legislation that they know will be vetoed, but Chen defended this move, saying it’s a way for legislators to respond to voters. “There’s definitely political jockeying for future political aspirations, but also a need to answer to constituents,” he said. Spotlight PA reporter Danielle Ohl contributed to this article. WHILE YOU’RE HERE...