Public Notice - PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION OF PENNSYLVANIA

This notice contains information about questions that will be on the

ballot in the Municipal Primary to be held on May 18, 2021.


The ballot questions propose three separate amendments to the

Constitution of Pennsylvania, based on a joint resolution of the

General Assembly of Pennsylvania.


If one or more of the ballot questions is approved by a majority of the

people voting on it, each amendment approved will become law.


The General Assembly of Pennsylvania first proposed the

amendments during the 2020 session and approved them for a

second time during the 2021 session of the legislature, as required by

Article XI, Section 1 of the Constitution.


This public notice is part of the process of amending the Constitution

of Pennsylvania. The Secretary of the Commonwealth is required to

publish:

• A copy of the joint resolution proposing the amendments.

• The text of each question that will be on the ballot.

• A “Plain English Statement” prepared by the Office of

Attorney General explaining the purpose, limitations and

effects of each ballot question upon the people of this

Commonwealth.


Text that appears in bold print are the changes to the words of the

Constitution that are proposed by the General Assembly. If the

amendment is approved, the words underlined would be added to

the Constitution and the words in [brackets] would be deleted.


If you need help reading this advertisement or need the text of the

proposed amendment in an alternative format, call or write the

Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Election Services and

Notaries, Room 210 North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120,

1-877-868-3772 (option 3), ra-elections@pa.gov.


Veronica Degraffenreid

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth

JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 2021 – 1


Proposing separate and distinct amendments to the Constitution

of Pennsylvania, in declaration of rights, providing for prohibition

against denial or abridgment of equality of rights because of race and

ethnicity; in legislation, further providing for action on concurrent

orders and resolutions; and, in the executive, providing for disaster

emergency declaration and management.

The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

hereby resolves as follows:


Section 1. The following separate and distinct amendments to the

Constitution of Pennsylvania are proposed in accordance with Article

XI:


(1) That Article I of the Constitution of Pennsylvania be amended by

adding a section to read:


§ 29. Prohibition against denial or abridgment of equality of rights

because of race and ethnicity.


Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged

in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because of the race or

ethnicity of the individual.


(1.1) That section 9 of Article III be amended to read:


§ 9. Action on concurrent orders and resolutions.


Every order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of both

Houses may be necessary, except on the [question of adjournment]

questions of adjournment or termination or extension of a disaster

emergency declaration as declared by an executive order or

proclamation, or portion of a disaster emergency declaration as

declared by an executive order or proclamation, shall be presented

to the Governor and before it shall take effect be approved by him, or

being disapproved, shall be repassed by two-thirds of both Houses

according to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a bill.


(2) That Article IV be amended by adding a section to read:


§ 20. Disaster emergency declaration and management.


(a) A disaster emergency declaration may be declared by executive

order or proclamation of the Governor upon finding that a

disaster has occurred or that the occurrence or threat of a disaster

is imminent that threatens the health, safety or welfare of this

Commonwealth.


(b) Each disaster emergency declaration issued by the Governor

under subsection (a) shall indicate the nature, each area threatened

and the conditions of the disaster, including whether the disaster

is a natural disaster, military emergency, public health emergency,

technological disaster or other general emergency, as defined by

statute. The General Assembly shall, by statute, provide for the

manner in which each type of disaster enumerated under this

subsection shall be managed.


(c) A disaster emergency declaration under subsection (a) shall be

in effect for no more than twenty-one (21) days, unless otherwise

extended in whole or part by concurrent resolution of the General

Assembly.


(d) Upon the expiration of a disaster emergency declaration

under subsection (a), the Governor may not issue a new disaster

emergency declaration based upon the same or substantially

similar facts and circumstances without the passage of a concurrent

resolution of the General Assembly expressly approving the new

disaster emergency declaration.


Section 2. (a) Upon the first passage by the General Assembly of

these proposed constitutional amendments, the Secretary of the

Commonwealth shall proceed immediately to comply with the

advertising requirements of section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution

of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the required advertisements

to two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers

are published in sufficient time after passage of these proposed

constitutional amendments.


(b) Upon the second passage by the General Assembly of

these proposed constitutional amendments, the secretary of the

commonwealth shall proceed immediately to comply with the

advertising requirements of section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution

of Pennsylvania and shall transmit the required advertisements

to two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers

are published in sufficient time after passage of these proposed

constitutional amendments. The Secretary of the Commonwealth

shall:


(1) Submit the proposed constitutional amendment under section

1(1) of this resolution to the qualified electors of this Commonwealth

as a separate ballot question at the first primary, general or municipal

election which meets the requirements of and is in conformance

with section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and

which occurs at least three months after the proposed constitutional

amendment is passed by the General Assembly.


(1.1) Submit the proposed constitutional amendment under

section 1(1.1) of this resolution to the qualified electors of this

Commonwealth as a separate ballot question at the first primary,

general or municipal election which meets the requirements of and

is in conformance with section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution

of Pennsylvania and which occurs at least three months after the

proposed constitutional amendment is passed by the General

Assembly.


(2) Submit the proposed constitutional amendment under section

1(2) of this resolution to the qualified electors of this Commonwealth

as a separate ballot question at the first primary, general or municipal

election which meets the requirements of and is in conformance

with section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and

which occurs at least three months after the proposed constitutional

amendment is passed by the General Assembly.


PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT –

ARTICLE III, SECTION 9

RELATING TO TERMINATION OR EXTENSION OF DISASTER

EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS


Ballot Question


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?


Plain English Statement of the Office of Attorney General


Joint Resolution No. 2021-1 proposes to amend Article III, Section

9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to provide a new exception to

traditional legislative procedure by allowing the General Assembly to

terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration or a portion of

such declaration without needing the Governor’s approval.


Currently, Article III, Section 9 establishes a general rule that all

orders, resolutions or votes requiring approval by both the House of

Representatives and Senate must be presented to the Governor for

his approval or veto. Resolutions for the adjournment of the General

Assembly are exempted from this process. If the order, resolution or

vote is approved by the Governor, it becomes law. If the Governor

vetoes the resolution, it does not become law unless two-thirds

of the House and Senate vote to override the veto. The proposed

amendment would create an additional exception to this customary

legislative procedure for concurrent resolutions to terminate or

extend, in whole or in part, a disaster emergency declaration issued

by the Governor.


The proposed amendment will also have the effect of reversing a

recent ruling of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court which held the

Pennsylvania Constitution prohibited the General Assembly from

passing a concurrent resolution to terminate the Governor’s Covid-19

disaster emergency declaration without presenting it to the Governor

for his approval. It will change the law to allow the General

Assembly to terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration

through a concurrent resolution approved by only a majority of the

members of the House and Senate, without having to present the

resolution to the Governor for his approval or veto.


The proposed amendment is limited in that it only changes the

traditional legislative process for terminating or extending disaster

emergency declarations issued by the Governor. The amendment

will not alter the current legislative procedure with respect to

which orders, resolutions or votes of the General Assembly must

be presented to the Governor for his approval on any other subject

matter.

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – ARTICLE IV

DISASTER EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND MANAGEMENT

Ballot Question


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?


Plain English Statement of the Office of Attorney General


Joint Resolution No. 2021-1 proposes adding a new section to Article

IV of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This amendment incorporates

disaster emergency declaration and management powers directly

into the Constitution by:


• Granting the Governor authority to declare a disaster

emergency declaration by proclamation or executive order;

• Requiring each declaration to indicate the nature, location

and type of disaster;

• Granting the General Assembly authority to pass laws

providing for the manner in which each disaster shall be

managed;

• Limiting the duration of a Governor’s declaration to 21

days, unless otherwise extended, in whole or in part, by a

concurrent resolution of the General Assembly;

• Preventing the Governor, upon the expiration of a

declaration, from issuing a new declaration based upon

the same or substantially similar facts, unless the General

Assembly passes a concurrent resolution expressly approving

a new declaration.


Currently, disaster emergency declaration and management

powers are delegated by statute to the Governor. The Governor

has the sole authority to issue and manage all disaster emergency

declarations, which cannot extend beyond 90 days unless renewed

by the Governor. The General Assembly may override a Governor’s

disaster emergency declaration by concurrent resolution that must be

presented to the Governor for his approval or veto.


If approved, the amendment would transfer certain of the

Governor’s existing authority to respond to and manage disaster

emergencies to the General Assembly. The Governor would retain

the authority to issue an initial disaster emergency declaration but

the declaration’s permissible length would be reduced from 90 to 21

days. The sole authority to extend a declaration would lie with the

General Assembly; presently, this power rests with the Governor.

Upon expiration of the initial declaration, the amendment prohibits

the Governor from issuing a new declaration based upon the same

or substantially similar facts without the approval of the General

Assembly. The Governor would no longer have unilateral authority

to manage disasters, but would have to do so consistent with the

laws passed by the General Assembly.


If approved, the General Assembly would be required to pass

new laws establishing the manner in which each type of disaster

shall be managed. If added to the Pennsylvania Constitution, the

proposed amendment cannot be modified or repealed except by

a judicial decision finding all or part of the proposed amendment

unconstitutional or by the approval of a subsequent constitutional

amendment.

PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT – ARTICLE I

PROHIBITION AGAINST DENIAL OR ABRIDGEMENT OF

EQUALITY OF RIGHTS BECAUSE OF RACE OR ETHNICITY


Ballot Question


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?


Plain English Statement of the Office of Attorney General


Joint Resolution No. 2021-1, if approved by the electorate, will add

a new section to Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution. This

amendment creates a constitutional prohibition against restricting

or denying an individual’s equal rights under Pennsylvania law

because of race or ethnicity.


Generally, inclusion of this amendment within the Pennsylvania

Constitution signifies that freedom from discrimination based on race

or ethnicity is an essential principle of liberty and free government.

This amendment applies to all Pennsylvania state, county and local

governmental entities, and guarantees equality of rights under

the law. The amendment, if enacted, will become a part of the

Pennsylvania Constitution. As such, its provisions must be applied

consistent with the other provisions of the Constitution.


This equal right to be free from racial or ethnic discrimination will

exist independent from any such rights under the United States

Constitution or corresponding federal law. If the current federal

protections proscribing racial or ethnic discrimination are abolished,

the prohibition against such discrimination will remain in the

Pennsylvania Constitution. The amendment is limited in that it

creates a right only under Pennsylvania law.


Once added to the Pennsylvania Constitution, the right to be

free from racial or ethnic discrimination under the law cannot be

eliminated except by a judicial decision finding the amendment

unconstitutional or the approval of a subsequent constitutional

amendment. If approved, the General Assembly may pass new laws

to implement the amendment, but it may not pass a law inconsistent

with it.

PAID FOR WITH PENNSYLVANIA TAXPAYER DOLLARS. THIS ADVERTISEMENT IS FUNDED IN WHOLE BY THE GENERAL FUND.

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