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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: July 21, 2017 08:26 PM
From: Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr.
To: All Senate members
Subject: State Constitutional Convention for Government Reform
As was the case in the mid-twentieth century, the calls for reform to state government are steadily rising. Citizens are increasingly concerned about the size, cost and inefficiency of their government—understandable in light of all the media accounts describing downturns in Pennsylvania’s credit rating, persistent pension problems, and the inability to pass a balanced budget on time.

Unfortunately, major reform has always been difficult to accomplish in Pennsylvania – it’s slow and incremental, and rarely successfully makes its way through the entire General Assembly. Therefore, I plan to introduce legislation in the near future which would give the voters the opportunity to decide if there should be a state constitutional convention to reform Pennsylvania’s government structures and practices, as was done in 1967.

My legislation would call for a limited constitutional convention similar to the 1967 convention.
Under the bill, the ballot for this year’s municipal election would contain a referendum question that will give the voters of the Commonwealth the opportunity to first decide whether or not there should be a constitutional convention. If the majority of voters vote in favor of a constitutional convention, a preparatory committee would immediately make logistical arrangements for the holding of the convention.

The convention would consist of 163 members--three delegates from each of the senatorial districts and 13 other members who would consist of members of the General Assembly and be ex-officio members. Citizens interested in becoming delegates to the convention would file petitions and run for delegate in the 2018 primary election.

The charge of the constitutional convention would be limited to certain articles and subject matter. The convention cannot propose any changes to Article I, Declaration of Rights or any Article or Section not referenced in the legislation. Specifically, the convention may make recommendations with regard to the following:
  • Sections 3, 4, 8, 16 of Article II which pertain to terms, size or compensation of the General Assembly,
  • Article III, Sections 13, 22, 24 and Subarticle A relating to amendments of legislation, no-bid contracts, and spending without an enacted budget,
  • Article IV as it pertains to the office of Lt. Governor may also be a subject of proposed changes, and
  • Sections 10, 17, and 18 of Article V pertaining to the judiciary.

All recommendations would require a majority vote of the 163 delegates. Proposed changes in the form of ballot questions would be placed on the ballot for approval or rejection by the voters at the 2019 primary.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this vital legislation, because I think we can do better. Let’s give the citizens an opportunity (for the only the 6th time in 244 years) to convene a convention re-invigorate Pennsylvania government

Introduced as SB867