|By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)
Pennsylvania voters will head to the polls on May 18 for the primary election. There will be more than just candidates on the ballot, as four questions – three constitutional amendments and one referendum – are slated to appear as well.
The first two questions propose amendments to the state Constitution that would alter the way state leaders handle future disaster emergency declarations. I voted to put these questions on the ballot because I believe they will restore the foundational system of checks and balances that has been missing over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure you, the people, have a voice in how we deal with similar situations in the future.
Question 1 asks if the General Assembly, by majority vote, should be authorized to end a disaster emergency declaration without a governor’s approval.
Question 2 asks if a disaster emergency declaration should be limited to 21 days, unless a majority in the General Assembly votes to extend it.
Question 3 addresses the Declaration of Rights section in the state Constitution and asks voters if it should be amended to specifically prohibit the denial or limitation of a person’s rights based on race or ethnicity. This proposed amendment would signify that freedom from discrimination based on race or ethnicity is an essential principle of liberty and free government.
Finally, the ballot referendum asks voters to weigh in on whether an existing loan program can be expanded to include municipal fire departments and ambulance companies that are staffed with paid personnel rather than volunteers. Since its inception in 1976, the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program has provided more than $519 million in low-interest loans for the Commonwealth’s volunteer emergency services community.
To read the full text of the questions as they will appear on the ballot, visit www.pahousegop.com/voiceofthepeople.
Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office