Conventions, history and org support
Better hurry or the window of impulsivity will close...
June 4, 2006
State lawmakers have lost their roadmap to reform
As the state Legislature reconvenes tomorrow, it will be 333 days since
July 7, a date that will live in political infamy. On that date in 2005, our state government — all three branches —
committed one of the worst acts of arrogance, cowardice and constitutional contempt in modern history: the pay raise.
then, the box score for voters versus incumbents looks lopsided:
...Give the incumbents a score of 0.
Despite voter protest, despite the lamentations of
losers, despite soothing sounds of contrition by survivors, nothing has happened inside the Capitol during these 333 days
to clean up what the Center for Public Integrity has called the most corrupt legislature in America.
Outside the Capitol,
there is a political movement that is growing in its power and determination to bring the bad old days of Pennsylvania politics
to a close. It is a movement for a general constitutional convention, the first of its kind since 1873, and it's long overdue.
As a Lancaster businessman told me recently, any business that didn't re-examine its operations from top to bottom for 130
years wouldn't be in business at all.
We need to re-invent our government so that:
Our state constitution prohibits
today's ''culture of concealment,'' finally making it possible for ordinary citizens to know how their government spends taxes
and makes important decisions...
unfortunately the media is not doing its job of questioning those who want a new PA Constitutional Convention.
For instance, Rep. Craig Dally, sponsor of a bill in state legislature to convene a convention - possibly in 2007, said:
... the process needs changed, not the people.
Say what? So none of the incumbents who voted for the pay raise and took the pay raise as unvouchered expenses,
they shouldn't be changed?
Actually, the pay raise itself was not going against the grain of the Constitution of PA, the "unvouchered expenses"
are constitutionally troublesome .
We have no problem on this end supporting changes made by the state legislature concerning their own operations.
We have no problem with lobbyist disclosure legislation as proposed by the Jefferson Reform Initiatives.
the problem is using the pay raise and unvouchered expenses boondoggle by the legislators as the impetus for a movement to
hold a convention to propose a number of amendments to the PA Constitution.
The Constitution provides for a lengthy process to alter the PA Constitution for the particular reason to make it difficult
on purpose so that mob rule - populism - the people's ever changing appetites - are checked - and in order to enable legislators
to move cautiously when altering the PA Constitution.
More importantly, all of the Jefferson Initiatives can be acted upon by simple legislation, and don't need a convention.
Jefferson Initiatives call for a PA Constitutional Convention hidden agenda.
Constitutional Issues –
Legislative and Judicial
constitutional issues as
addressed in Rep. Dally’s legislation, House Bill 1995, and propose and review individual bills as appropriate. 2) If no movement in Legislature – move
Rep. Dally’s Constitutional Convention Legislation
Convention should be of limited purpose.
TITLE: "REASONS ABOUND FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION"
Morning Call, The (Allentown, PA)
January 29, 2006
Author: Dennis Baylor, Special to The Morning Call
Pennsylvania's first constitution was adopted in 1776 and was a framework for the U.S. Constitution, which did not take
effect until 1789. The Declaration of Rights of the Pennsylvania Constitution predates and was a model for the Bill of Rights
of the United States Constitution.
Therefore, many of our constitution's principles are destined to endure forever. Nonetheless, we are of the view that many
of today's more pressing problems defy solution because of state government's structure. Consider the impact that 10 simple
changes could have on all our lives. Consider this a call for a Pennsylvania constitutional convention.
Approved by Anthony E. Rybak Esq. For Representative, General Assembly 133rd Legislative
District in Pennsylvania
too bad, Penn Patriot Online Blogger supports PA Con-Con
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 PennLiberty: The Sun is Rising
...Beyond that, I believe that Tuesday's message is that the people are open for change. And what better way to bring
about that change than with an open constitutional convention.
The third round of revolution is now closed, reformers
and revolutionaries have three victories - repeal of the pay raise, throwing out Nigro, and now ousting two Senate leaders.
The establishment still hasn't learned, and until they do, they will continue to lose. .. posted by Matthew Best
Support PA Con-Con
PA Economy League
Declaration of Action.org
Democracy Rising PA
The Pennsylvania Economy league played a major role in our last State Constitutional Convention. That was 1967, and maybe it’s time for another. A complete
review of the articles pertaining to the legislature and its system could be an opportunity for the elected delegates to fix. A convention would energize citizens, and leaders from every segment of the commonwealth
could run as delegates.
Let’s face it: people are really mad. But again, we
can look at this as an opportunity. A “Declaration Of Action” means
anyone can pursue a challenge to incumbents or even push for another Convention. At
the very least, we can convince the four south-central legislators not to accept the unvouchered expense during their term. That would be a start. ..
Whether you like the man or not Jubilirer has a point, people... by the way Bumstead supports a PA
Con-Con so how objective are the headline and the article.
Reform? Jubelirer says Pa. just fine
By Brad Bumsted
STATE CAPITOL REPORTER
Thursday, February 2, 2006
HARRISBURG -- The
Senate's highest elected Republican on Wednesday opened fire on reformers who opposed the pay raise and want to defeat incumbents,
rewrite the Pennsylvania Constitution, and cut lawmakers' perks.
Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, R-Altoona, is the first legislative leader to defend the institution of
the General Assembly by responding directly to prominent reformers across the state.
"The system is not broken, elected officials are not as bad, and Pennsylvania's situation is not as hopeless, as daily
depicted," Jubelirer said.
In remarks to the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's government affairs conference, Jubelirer argued against the anti-incumbency
movement urged by some reformers. And Jubelirer, elected to the Senate in 1974, strongly defended the state's judiciary, which
came under fire in connection with last July's pay grab.
Jubelirer also criticized a suggested constitutional convention, saying that proponent Tim Potts, founder of Democracy
Rising PA, wants to "put the constitution up for grabs" after witnessing interest groups commandeering
the ballot process in other states.
A Philadelphia legislator thinks Pennsylvania should create a commission to "bring the state constitution
into the 21st century."
"Let's put everything on the table'' to modernize the constitution, which hasn't been overhauled since a constitutional
convention in 1968, state Rep. Dwight Evans said yesterday.
Proposed changes could include giving state residents the right to directly initiate
public referendums over actions of the Legislature, like its decision in July to increase its members' salaries and those
of judges and the governor's cabinet members.
Evans, a Democrat, said his call for constitutional updating resulted
"in part'' from the uproar among voters over the 16 to 34 percent legislative pay raise.
"I want to move the passion
[that voters] have demonstrated this summer to a positive and productive end -- a serious examination of the parameters in
which we [legislators] work," he said.
Evans said that? Wow! This is something that a few of us at KP have been mentioning as a possibility for a while now
Don't forget the big rally was scheduled Sept. 26th and was well known through media reports that in part the rally was
to be a precursor - the shot heard round the state - towards a Citizens' Convention. Democracy Rising PA came out way
back in August 2005 pushing for a convention - opportunism? You decide by reviewing the long list of suggested reasons
for a PA Con-Con.
I Predict A Riot The Morning Call's state house reporter John L. Micek
Specifically, Democracy Rising PA is asking for your help to build an agenda for a “citizens’ constitutional
convention.” That is, a general convention where the agenda comes from the citizens up, not the government down; where
every idea for improving how our state government works receives a fair hearing and no idea is dismissed merely because it
upsets the political status quo; and where all citizens have a chance to be chosen by their fellow citizens as delegates.
Pennsylvania has not had a general constitutional
convention since 1872-73. More recently there was a limited constitutional convention in 1967-68 – limited meaning
that some ideas were not officially authorized for discussion. Currently in the House, there is a proposal for another limited
convention that would be authorized by House Bill 1995. Here’s the link: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2005/0/HB1995P2748.htm.
One of Democracy Rising PA’s highest priorities
for 2006 is to prepare for a general citizens’ constitutional convention in 2007. To that end, we have gathered ideas
from people across Pennsylvania. They are listed below. Some ideas ultimately may be better pursued as ordinary laws while
others require amending the Constitution. We believe that deciding which ideas fit into which categories also should be part
of the discussion leading up to a convention. ..
Should Pennsylvania citizens amend their Constitution to:
Pay raise foes push for other reforms
Say 2006 will be 'year of integrity' for state Legislature
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- Now that the year that saw the pay-raise debacle has ended, a coalition of citizens groups wants to make
2006 the "year of integrity" for the state Legislature.
Beginning discussions aimed at a "citizens constitutional convention" in 2007, where changes could be made to the state
constitution, including reducing the size of the House and Senate. It would be the first such convention since 1968.
Pa. Constitutional Convention Proposed
By CQ News
Tue, 27 Sep 2005 6:00 PM
Craig Dally (R-Northampton) has introduced a bill proposing a constitutional convention to address several pressing issues
in the Commonwealth.
"Clearly a lot has changed since the constitutional convention of 1967-68," Dally said. "Man
has walked on the moon, cell phones are used by nearly everybody and students use laptop computers. In 1967 it would take
the space the size of a dorm room to store the memory today’s laptop computers."
Dally's measure would place
the constitutional question on the election ballot of November 2005. Should the question pass, the election for delegates
would be held during the November 2006 general election.
House Bill 1995 has 31 cosponsors including Dally.
is possible I could have gotten more sponsors but I wanted to introduce the bill as soon as possible to achieve the goal of
putting the question on the ballot on November 8," Dally said.
Dally said a constitutional convention would empower
the people to look at a number of issues from lawsuit reform to public school funding.
"While the media has seized
on the pay raise and unvouchered expenses where the public believed they were left out of the process, there are several issues
that could benefit from the proposals that may come from a constitutional convention," Dally said.
current constitution has been in place since 1968. Dally said that under his proposal, the delegates would be limited to making
recommendations to the electorate on the following subjects only:
Supreme Court's power to make rules
Appointment and qualifications
Increases in government spending
Consolidation of school districts and municipalities
Public education funding
Legislative Districts (number of representatives and senators)
of public officials
There would be 163 delegates to the convention. Voters would elect three delegates from each of
the 50 senatorial districts in the state.
The remaining delegates will include the lieutenant governor and members
of House and Senate leadership.
Representing the 138th Legislative District Craig Dally (R-Northampton) January
In an effort to restore the public’s confidence in the General Assembly, Rep. Craig Dally (R-Northampton)
has joined with six legislators from across the Commonwealth to launch the Jefferson Reform Initiative.
“The way the General Assembly operates must
be subject to strict scrutiny,” Dally said. “All House members should want a legislative process that allows us
to represent the interests of our constituents to our fullest potential.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “It is not by the consolidation,
or concentration of powers, but by their distribution that good government is effected.”
“Members of the initiative support this philosophy
and hope to empower individual legislators to better represent their districts,” Dally said.
In addition to calling for reforms in the power structure
of the General Assembly, the Jefferson Reform Initiative seeks to enact policies that would provide greater transparency in
the operations and processes of the legislature.
“Disclosure and openness are key components
of rebuilding the public trust in General Assembly,” Dally said. “More openness will only lead to a greater understanding
of our legislative process.”
Organizers of the initiative have agreed to
support Dally’s Constitutional Convention legislation (House Bill 1995).
Other elements of this reform package include:
· Enactment of lobbyist disclosure legislation.
· Reform of House committees by limiting the number of years that a chairman
can serve on the same committee and by allowing the committee chairmen to appoint vice chairmen and subcommittee chairmen
· Prohibiting the Rules Committee from adding substantive amendments to bills.
This will prevent quick floor votes on controversial public policy, providing greater opportunity for review and public comment.
· Establishing a process to review and reduce the size of the legislature.
· Limiting the purpose and scope of “lame duck” sessions.
· Constitutional changes to examine the size of the legislature and
the powers and processes of the courts.
· Accountability in various state debt financial programs including the Commonwealth
Finance Authority, Department of Community and Economic Development, and R-CAP.
· Establish a budget process that bases resource needs on achieving quantified
Members of the initiative have presented their ideas
to House leaders and a number of members of the House have agreed to join the initiative.
Move toward constitutional convention gaining steam
With public outrage still simmering after a brazen last-minute pay raise Pennsylvania lawmakers gave
themselves July 7, some officials want a constitutional convention to restore public confidence in state government.
Rep. Craig Dally, R-138, plans to introduce a bill to convene the first constitutional convention
since the historic 1968 gathering, which produced many landmark changes.
A new session could address issues such as
lawsuit reform, increases in government spending and yes, legislative compensation, Dally says.
"While the media has
seized on the pay raise and unvouchered expenses where the public believed they were left out of the process, there are several
issues that could benefit from the proposals that may come from a constitutional convention," he says.
week, Rep. Dwight Evans, D-203, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, asked Gov. Ed Rendell to create a
commission to consider a convention. Other bills making the rounds call for a reduction in the size of the Legislature.
time is right
Could change be in the air? At least one local representative thinks the time is right.
"I'm for some changes and what happened here July 7 shows we need change," says Rep. Jerry Nailor,
Most local lawmakers want to hear more of the details in Dally's bill, but say they like the idea of changing
state government for the better.
"From what I've seen it's an idea that has considerable merit and something I would
probably support," says Rep. Glen Grell, R-87.
A freshman representative, Grell says he is concerned that Dally's bill
is too broad in scope. "You end up trying to do too much and you end up getting nothing done because you can't get a consensus,"
he explains. "It may be a little too broad, but you have to start somewhere."
Under his proposal, Dally says the delegates
would be limited to making recommendations to the electorate on the following subjects only:
• Lawsuit reform
Supreme Court's power to make rules
• Appointment and qualifications of judges
• Increases in government
• Consolidation of school districts and municipalities
• Eminent domain
Public education funding
• Legislative districts (number of representatives and senators)
of public officials
On November ballot
Dally's measure would place the constitutional question on the election
ballot of November 2005. Should the question pass, an election for 163 convention delegates would be held during the November
2006 general election.
Voters would elect three delegates from each of the 50 senatorial districts in the state. The
remaining delegates would include the lieutenant governor and members of House and Senate leadership.
would take place in December 2006 to early 2007 and voters would approve or reject the recommendations at the primary election
Not the only way
While not opposed to a constitutional convention, State Sen. Patricia
Vance, R-31, says other things can accomplish the same goals.
For example, she supports a nonpartisan re-apportionment
committee to prevent gerrymandering districts that creates "safe seats" with little or no competition for incumbents.
probably has contributed in the past to people being apathetic," she says. "If you had competitive elections, I think people
would be much more interested."
In his ninth term, Nailor says he is not sure public education funding can be solved
by a constitutional convention.
After all, lawmakers have been wrestling with that problem for many years. Otherwise,
"it's not something I would have a problem with," he says of the idea.
Local legislators Rep. Will Gabig, R-199, and
Rep. Bruce Smith, R-92, could not be reached for comment.
Landmark decisions came out of ‘68 convention
have considered a constitutional convention seven times in state history, most recently in 1967.
The measure was rejected
each of the first six times.
In what would become the legacy of former governor Raymond P. Shafer, the bipartisan constitutional
convention of 1967-68 completed many reforms. They included:
• allowing political subdivisions to elect home-rule,
raising the ceiling on state borrowing,
• subjecting all state financial affairs to audits,
that the governor annually develop and submit a spending plan for state programs,
• establishing new tax rules
particularly for real estate and public utilities, and
• creating a unified judicial system under the Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania.
While the revisions were criticized for not doing enough to reform state government —
such as reducing the size of the General Assembly — they won majority approval by voters in April 1968.
Pennsylvania's Constitutions and the Amendment Process - Where it Began, Where it is Now
By Ann Liivak, former Reference/Special Collections Librarian
23 Pennsylvania Law Weekly 324 (March
The files are in twelve sections: "Background Reports and Articles"; "Campaign for and Delegate
to Con Con"; "Convention Opening and Procedures"; "Convention Committees"; "Judiciary Committee Working Files"; "Judiciary
Committee Subcommittees"; "Delegate Thornburgh’s Files"; "Clippings, Editorials, and Bulletins"; "Home Rule"; "Efforts
to Implement Judiciary Article"; "Thornburgh’s Working Copies of Manuals, Proposals, and Hearings"; and "Hardcover Publications
of Con Con."