Wednesday, February 21, 2007

PA Constitutional Convention: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

No matter who the delegates to a Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention, there is never a way to foolproof limitations to only certain matters. Delegates could propose a measure to in fact have future amendments to the state Constitution adopted by less stringent requirements than are currently employed.

All of the reforms that are mentioned as ones to include in the convention matters can be accomplished by the traditional, but deliberative and lengthy, current constitutional amendment process.

The Constitution is not at fault for a legislative body that doesn't follow it.

See Vote Fix for detailed treatment of this topic.

Constitutional convention reform hearing set
By The Tribune-Review
Monday, February 12, 2007

A Republican state senator plans to hold the first in a series of hearings on a constitutional convention to reform state government in Pittsburgh next week.
Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, of Dauphin County, who chairs the Senate State Government Committee, said today he is inviting public comment about whether to convene a constitutional convention that could reform the Legislature and judiciary.

The first hearing is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at Duquesne University's School of Law. Among those expected to testify next week are law professors who are experts in constitutional law and representatives of public interest groups who advocate government reform.

Before a constitutional convention can be held, voters would have to approve a ballot referendum seeking to reform sections pertaining to the Legislature's term limits, size and finances. Other issues could include judicial salaries, Piccola's office said.

Reformers Overwhelmingly Support Constitutional Convention

A vast majority of respondents to an ongoing informal poll conducted by PACleanSweep support a constitutional convention in Pennsylvania.

The survey was launched by the group to gauge initial citizen reaction to the idea and to coincide with a Thursday hearing by the Senate State Government Committee on the issue in Pittsburgh.

As of noon Tuesday, 92 percent of respondents indicated support for a convention.

90 percent indicated their preference for a “general” convention, free of limitations set by the General Assembly, but that sentiment was mitigated by the potential for a review of Article I, the Declaration of Rights.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they would be less likely to support a convention if it included a review of Article I. Only 16 percent supported including Article I, while 17 percent were undecided.

During the last “general” convention held in Pennsylvania in 1873, Article I was excluded from consideration by the authorizing Act of the General Assembly. The respondents also showed a clear preference for a convention free of influence from elected officials and political parties.

96 percent opposed elected officials serving as delegates to a convention and 97 percent opposed allowing elected officials to appoint delegates. 97 percent said they would be more likely to support a convention if delegates were selected in non-partisan fashion, free of any influence from local political party committees...

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