Thoughts - more to come
isn't it odd how organizations that blasted the pay-grabbers for an unconstitutional act, taking unvouchered expenses,
are themselves proposing measures like ballot initiatives and referendums? The U.S. Constitution guarantees to
each state a republican form of government. Iniatives and Referendums as proposed by activist organizations galvanized
by the pay raise uproar go against the very intent of the Founding Fathers in establishing a nation that is a republic, if
you can keep it, not a democracy, and a constitutional guarantee to the states to maintain a republican form of government.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall
protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot
be convened) against domestic Violence.
Reason the nation was founded as a republic was to ensure a nation of laws, and not a nation of men. In a nation
based on laws, constitutional laws, our representatives are to "reason" and pass only new legislation after reflection and
discourse, a lengthy process, and base legislation on the limitations of the U.S. Constitution.
In a democracy, a nation of men, people are roused to action by populist sentiments, which could change according to
the culture of the time, and bills are quickly passed without necessarily any regard to the constitutional restraints.
We need to hold our elected representatives accountable during an election with our votes on their performance while
holding an office of trust.
The state of California is a mess with its initiatives and referendums. More often than not, outsiders come in
to stump for an initiative and sell it to the people. The people don't have time to reflect or even care whether legislation
is based on constitutional principles - they then hold the state Constitution in little regard since they can change it to
the point it isn't recognizable.
Lawmaker asks for panel to update state constitution
Wednesday, September 21, 2005By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette
HARRISBURG -- 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
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
Only legislators can put an issue before voters in a referendum, as they did in May when a Growing Greener
environmental bond issue was sent to the voters and approved.
The Legislature also approved a 1989 referendum on then-Gov. Robert Casey's plan for tax reform, a plan that
was soundly rejected by voters.
State voters cannot, on their own, put a referendum issue on a statewide ballot. The most they can do is
vote legislators out of office if lawmakers do something they don't like.
"Much has changed since 1968," Evans said. "Some of it has been dramatic, especially in communication and
technology. Men have walked on the moon. Wars have ended and others begun."
Evans said civic groups should have a role in a constitutional commission, including the Pennsylvania Economy
League, League of Women Voters, NAACP, Urban League and American Civil Liberties Union.
The League of Women Voters has taken a position in favor of direct referendums by voters. It said that 23
states -- but not Pennsylvania -- have some form of "popular initiative,'' where citizens can place statutes or constitutional
amendments directly on the ballot.
But the league's executive director, Bonita Hoke, said there are potential dangers with referendums, which
would be expensive on a statewide level.
"It means a huge education job for somebody, and the person with the most money will probably win the public's
thinking,'' she said. The outcome of the vote could be determined "by who has the best sound bites'' in commercials, she added.
"But we do applaud Rep. Evans for thinking about these issues,'' she said.
Tim Potts, a former legislative aide who now heads a citizens group called Democracy Rising PA, said giving
citizens the power of direct initiative "absolutely ... should be on the agenda for this commission."