Op-Ed: Response for Constitutional Amendment Ballot Questions

HARRISBURG – In the past several weeks there have been several letters to the editor suggesting my comments for a yes vote on May 18th for constitutional amendments are hypocritical, or misleading. I suppose those writers are just not familiar with the process to amend the state’s Constitution. Those writers suggest we’ve “rushed” the legislation, but nothing is further from the truth. The process requires a proposed amendment to be approved in two successive sessions (a session is two years).  So, the amendments were approved during 2020 in last session, and again approved in 2021 to have the amendments appear on the May 18th ballot. That doesn’t sound like anything is being rushed – it’s more of an issue of necessary timing.

These same writers have also suggested the amendments are unnecessary, but here’s why I strongly disagree. Our governor has assumed absolute power over your lives because of a pandemic, and there surely is a need for governmental involvement, but that would require all the government.  Our governor has refused to discuss his moves and his strategies with the legislature – your representatives in our government. What has his absolute power given the state? He’s given us, a broken unemployment compensation system where many Pennsylvanians are waiting as long as a year for their first unemployment check. He’s given us a secretary of health who moved COVID-19 positive residents into long-term care facilities, causing the greatest outbreak of COVID-19 in our state. He’s given us one of the worst COVID-19 vaccine rollouts anywhere in the United States. He’s given us a business waiver process that unnecessarily caused businesses to close, many never opening again. Since first invoking “emergency powers,” Governor Wolf has shown no transparency in his unilateral behavior, leaving all of us to wonder what has happened to our constitutional rights.

The proposed constitutional amendment to require the governor to work with the legislature (it’s a shame we need to legislate cooperation) in the time of a state emergency is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, nowhere in our constitution, nor in any other existing statutes, is the governor granted supreme power to ignore your will, and to ignore the powers of the legislature. Our government requires three co-equal branches of government, not a power supreme governor.  America was founded on individual freedoms and worked tirelessly to get away from an absolute monarchy. 

Vote “Yes” for the amendments on this primary election to preserve your voice and prevent a dangerous concentration of power that no single individual should wield.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.

CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro mscarfaro@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388