Reforming PA Government in One Fell Swoop

Member Group : Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania

On October 17th Senator John Eichelberger and Representative Stephen Bloom introduced legislation to enable a limited state constitutional convention. We are proud to count Sen. Eichelberger and Rep. Bloom as CAP members. The legislation that they’ve crafted will go a long way to reforming the dysfunctional government saddling the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. Their press statement on the legislation makes an effective case for its rational and lays out the basics of how a convention would operate:

“Pennsylvanians deserve better,” said Senator Eichelberger. “They’re fed up with the inability of the General Assembly, on the whole, to address significant deficiencies in several key areas of the state government. A limited constitutional convention could lead to significant reform and go a long way in restoring the public’s faith in a system that has been failing them.”

“Senate Bill 867, sponsored by Senator Eichelberger, and House Bill 1967, sponsored by Representative Bloom, will allow the public to vote in an upcoming election on whether or not there should be a constitutional convention limited to very specific topics. Those topics include proposed changes to the terms and size of the General Assembly; spending without an enacted budget; the office of the Lieutenant Governor; and the judiciary.

“A constitutional convention would be an opportunity for citizens who are frustrated with our broken state government to take a very direct role in historic government change,” said Representative Bloom.

If the majority of voters approve, a preparatory committee would immediately make logistical arrangements for holding the convention. The convention would consist of 163 members – three delegates elected from each of the senatorial districts and 13 other members who would consist of members of the General Assembly and be ex-officio members. Convention delegates would vote on recommended changes to the state constitution. 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 final approval or rejection by the voters.

The text of the Senate bill can be found here. As Sen. Eichelberger and Rep. Bloom noted at their press conference, the scope of the convention will be limited to the Articles affecting the legislature, legislation, the executive, and judicial branch. None of the sections on basic rights of citizens (i.e. firearms) would be open for discussion. We will keep you posted about this important legislation as it progresses.