As I write this, COVID infections in Lebanon County are up 40 percent while their vaccination numbers are more than 10 percent below the state average. No doubt, their mask and social distancing compliance is also lagging. The Republican-controlled legislature now wants to force their partisan lack of concern about the virus on the entire state.
Gov. Tom Wolf was elected by a substantial statewide majority vote. Republican legislators are now trying to amend the state constitution to seize his power for emergency declarations. Current law already permits them to do this by a two-thirds vote, but they now are seeking to do it by a simple majority vote.
The state was so obviously gerrymandered during the Corbett administration when Republicans controlled every branch of government that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had to throw out their U.S. Congressional districts. The court did not address the gerrymandered state legislative districts, meaning that it is possible that a minority of Pennsylvania Republican voters can now elect the legislature who could then seize control of the majority elected governor’s responsibility to fight emergencies like the COVID pandemic.
Future Republican plans in the form of HB 38 include amending the state constitution to allow gerrymandered state judicial districts thus permitting a possible minority of Republican voters to seize power of the state courts. Only qualifications, not political party, should determine our judges and prevent single party rule of the state.
We had an election last fall that displeased Republican legislators so they are now trying to modify their mail in balloting system even though the only documented fraudulent votes cast were by Republicans voting for their dead relatives.
We must vote "no" on issues 1 and 2 in the primary this May to prevent this power seizure by the legislature. We must vote no on any future attempt to permit single party seizure of the judicial branch. Gerrymandering that allows legislators to pick their voters must be reduced where possible. Voters must have a fair opportunity to select all three branches of the PA government.