Flipping the PA Legislature has never been more important

Our right to a fair, democratic state Legislature will slip away if Republican lawmakers get their way.

For the past seven years in the Pennsylvania Legislature, there has been little bipartisan effort to pass meaningful legislation. By and large, since Republicans control both the House and Senate, only Republican-proposed bills are heard and voted on. The only power Democrats seem to have in Harrisburg these days is to ensure that the legislation they oppose is vetoed by Governor Wolf. It’s a power the Republicans are working hard to eliminate through their use of constitutional amendments, in an effort to bypass the gubernatorial veto.

What began as a trickle has now turned into a flood of constitutional amendments proposed by the GOP-controlled Legislature—all to push through policies and procedures opposed by most Democrats that would otherwise be vetoed by the governor. Limiting abortion, gerrymandering appellate judge elections, suppressing voter turnout, limiting executive power, and most recently, changing the process for drawing district maps—these are the things Republicans are pursuing through constitutional amendments, in an attempt to achieve their political goals without the need for bipartisan legislative support (or debate), or any involvement from the Executive branch.

As discussed in a previous blog, ballot questions that propose constitutional amendments are rarely rejected by voters. And placing them on the ballots in off-year elections when typically, only a small fraction of eligible voters go to the polls, further increases the odds of passage.

And PA Republicans are not stopping at the state level. Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution stipulates that a majority of states (at least 34 states) can vote to meet and propose amendments to the Constitution. This past February, the Republican-led Senate Resolution 152, calling for a federal Constitutional convention to do just that, was reported out of committee with solely GOP support. SR 152 aims to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit its power and jurisdiction and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress.

A convention of the states has never officially occurred in the history of the United States, which makes the passage of SR 152 highly implausible. So, why is this important? Because Republican lawmakers continue to waste taxpayer money on partisan complaints and distract from the real issues affecting all Pennsylvanians—like the need for quality public schools for all children, clean water for all homes and businesses, and more trust in the election process and the ability to access it—issues addressed in Democratic legislative proposals that never get heard.

This is why flipping the PA Legislature is so important. We need to flip 12 House and 6 Senate seats, while holding on to all current Democratic seats and the governorship, to gain the majority in 2022. Let’s get the legislature and state government working for us again.