The Lead

Pa. Senate panel approves constitutional amendment accountability measure

By: - May 9, 2023 3:13 pm

State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York (Doug Gross/Senate Republican Communications)

Hoping to avoid another advertising error that derails a constitutional amendment from appearing on the ballot, Pennsylvania lawmakers advanced a tracking method to ensure the timely publication of proposed changes before being put forth to voters.

On Tuesday, the Senate State Government Committee unanimously voted to send a Republican-authored bill proposing additional accountability measures for the Department of State for publishing proposed constitutional amendments to the full chamber.

The legislation, authored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, would require the secretary of state to post a “detailed account of each action taken to publish the proposed constitutional amendment” on the department’s website. 

The list should include a copy of the notice and constitutionally required deadline, all newspapers that published the information, and the earliest date the proposed change could appear on the ballot.

“Gubernatorial administrations, they come, and they go,” Phillips-Hill told lawmakers. “And regardless of what party occupies the governor’s mansion, this will ensure that every Pennsylvanian can track from start to finish a process as consequential as a proposed constitutional amendment.”

Phillips-Hill previously introduced the idea after the Wolf administration failed to advertise amendment language for long-awaited relief for survivors of childhood sexual abuse in time for the May 2021 primary election. Her proposal saw bipartisan support and passed the Senate but never saw a floor vote in the House.

The proposed constitutional change that would give now-adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse more time to file civil suits against their abusers and those who enabled them still hasn’t reached the ballot, but most recently because of a stalemate in the House of Representatives and Senate Republican leadership advancing the issue as part of an amendment package.

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