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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 23, 2015 09:09 AM
From: Representative Scott Conklin
To: All House members
Subject: Citizens Constitutional Convention (Formerly HB989)
 
In the near future, I intend to re-introduce legislation (former House Bill 989) to place a referendum question on the ballot during the General Election on November 3, 2015, to ascertain whether voters support convening a Citizens Constitutional Convention.

The argument for calling a state constitutional convention is clear and convincing. It has been more than 140 years since the last time Pennsylvania's entire constitution was subject to serious revision. One cannot imagine a company conducting over $70 billion worth of business and employing over 100,000 workers without routinely reviewing and updating its strategic plan. Although Pennsylvania’s last constitutional convention was in 1967, it was limited in scope. The Commonwealth has not developed a new plan, much less updated its old one, since 1873. The last time the Pennsylvania Constitution was comprehensively reviewed, Ulysses Grant was President of the United States, which clearly illustrates that Pennsylvania’s Constitution is a legal fossil ill-equipped to deal with the issues and problems of the 21st century.

The following outlines the main points of this legislation:
  • The Citizens Constitutional Convention would be broad in scope;
  • A question of conduct and articles of the constitution affected would be submitted to the electorate at the November 3, 2015 General Election;
  • Elected delegates would receive a monthly salary equal to legislative base pay and would be reimbursed for mileage and lodging;
  • Elected delegates would be prohibited from serving as a public official for a period of two years after their term of service expires;
  • The Citizens Constitutional Convention would commence on April 4, 2016, for the purpose of electing officers and forming committees;
  • Proposed changes to the constitution will require a 2/3 majority upon final passage at the Citizens Constitutional Convention;
  • Lobbying of individual delegates by registered lobbyists would be prohibited; permitted lobbying methods of the whole convention would be specified;
  • Proposed constitutional changes would be submitted to the electorate at the November 8, 2016 General Election;
  • An updated Pennsylvania Constitution cannot be in violation of the United States Constitution; and
  • The Citizens Constitutional Convention would be funded with an appropriation of $20 million from all four caucuses from non-lapsing legislative leadership accounts of the General Assembly.

A Citizens Constitutional Convention is the most important reform this Commonwealth could undertake. It fulfills the self-governance prophecy upon which this country was built, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.


Previous Co-Sponsors: CARROLL, GIBBONS, KORTZ, MAHONEY, SANTARSIERO

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Introduced as HB574