The Pennsylvania Primary on May 18 is quickly approaching and is unlike any other held in decades. Usually Pennsylvania's primaries ballots are closed to voters registered to one of the two major parties. But this year, because there are 4 ballot referendums, every registered voter, whether Democrat, Republican, or independent can vote on these questions.
There are four in total—the most number of questions presented to voters since 1981. The first three would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution making each proposed question very difficult to change. The fourth addresses changing a state statute. The General Assembly did not hold public hearings on any of the ballot measures and there remains significant concern over the unintended consequences of changing state laws.
The first two questions deal with overturning the balance of power between the Governor and the General Assembly. GOP lawmakers currently hold a majority in both the State House and Senate. In the past they attempted to prevent Governor Wolf from enacting Emergency Powers in response to the COVID pandemic. Unable to override Governor Wolf’s veto, and angry with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision affirming the Governor’s ability to exercise Emergency Powers, the Republicans in the General Assembly are now seeking to permanently change the Constitution.
After this past year, it is clear that we cannot trust the Pennsylvania GOP to handle any crisis. From refusing to wear masks on the Capitol floor to squandering $108 million in rental aid, they have shown time and time again they would rather play political games than protect or help the people of Pennsylvania.
Here are the Ballot questions, along with recommendations from Lancaster Stands Up’s Leadership Team, informed by research by our Electoral Team and Comms Team:
1) The FIRST question seeks to allow the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration by a simple majority even though they already have this power with a 2/3rds majority.
2) The SECOND question would allow a disaster emergency declaration to expire in 21 days instead of the current 90 days regardless of severity. Only the General Assembly would have the ability to extend the declaration beyond the 21 days.
The Lancaster Stands Up’s Leadership Team strongly recommends voting NO on questions 1 and 2. If these questions pass as amendments, they would severely limit the Governor and any future governor the ability to keep our Commonwealth safe. During an emergency we need leadership that can act quickly and decisively; this is the most important thing a governor is elected to do. Having to gather 253 lawmakers—who typically struggle to come to any agreement—would put us all at peril in such critical times. To place a time limit of 21 days is arbitrary, as disasters and their effects are unpredictable. These amendments could undo the progress made on mitigating the spread of Covid 19 or any future crisis. In addition, there remain unanswered questions about the role of the Federal Government and vital services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that continues to serve many Pennsylvanians during the Covid crisis. Many Pennsylvanians could be left without lifesaving Federal interventions if the General Assembly ends or delays extending an Emergency Declaration.
3) The THIRD ballot question asks to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity. On its face this appears to be a simple question about additional discrimination protections. However Jamie Magil, Elections Attorney and Fairness Election Expert, is concerned that this could open the door to “reverse discrimination” lawsuits, as a means of attacking affirmative action policies. She also points out that this narrows rather than broadens protections that currently exist under the Federal Civil Right law of 1964. It appears that this amendment to the Constitution does little to change protections that already exist. That leaves us questioning the real purpose of the measure. With no public hearings to address the unanswered concerns around these questions and the possible unintended consequences, we make no recommendation.
4) The FOURTH question asks to change a state statute that originally allowed volunteer fire companies and volunteer ambulance and rescue squads to access loans from a state fund for the purpose of modernizing facilities, equipment and vehicles. The change would allow municipal fire departments and EMS companies with paid employees to also apply for the state loans. This is a recent addition to the ballot questions so there is no additional information, because of this we make no recommendation.
We think that voters having more say in government is a worthwhile endeavor. It is necessary for a functioning democracy and we wish it would happen more often. Unfortunately in this case, it is clear that Republicans in the State Legislature are abusing the process for their own political gain. With that in mind, we make these recommendations.
--Lancaster Stands Up Leadership Team (with support from the Electoral and Comms Teams) ... See MoreSee Less
Is there a reason why you have no recommendation on third referendum concerning equal rights?
Could you further elaborate on measure 3? How does it narrow protections under the Federal Civil Right law of 1964? How could it open doors to reverse discrimination lawsuits against affirmative action?
Today’s verdict provides a small measure of accountability for George Floyd’s family, following his brutal murder last summer. While Derek Chauvin’s conviction on all counts is the most basic form of accountability, George Floyd should still be alive today. We hope his family will find some peace from this conviction.
The jury made a just decision today. But there are still so many who have died at the hands of police that deserve the same justice. The verdict is also an indictment of the entire system of racist policing and a fundamentally broken criminal justice system.
Last summer, following George Floyd’s murder, millions of Americans stepped up to proclaim that Black lives matter and to demand a society where all people are free to live and thrive.
We are going to continue to stand up and speak out to demand accountability for the murders of Daunte Write, Adam Toledo, Christian Hall, Ricardo Munoz, Stephen Hughes, and countless others who have been murdered by police across our country.
Big systemic change is needed. At the federal level, we must push Congress to pass the BREATHE Act, which would divest from brutal and discriminatory policing and invest in a new vision of public safety. At the state level here in Pennsylvania we must repeal Act 111, in order to give power to local communities to hold police departments and violent officers accountable.
Here in Lancaster County we need justice for the organizers and participants in last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. District Attorney Heather Adams needs to drop the charges against the organizers who were arrested last year.
Please support the people who stood up here in Lancaster for George Floyd—who are standing for justice and have said loudly and clearly that Black Lives Matter!
Like so many across the country, we have been watching the Derek Chauvin trial the past several weeks. We have been wondering: will George Floyd get any justice? The case is now in the hands of the jury and we wait anxiously to hear the outcome.
But as we’ve watched and waited, we have seen clearly the widespread and systemic nature of the crisis our nation faces. In the last week of trial, outside of the courtroom we learned about Duante Wright, a young father shot and killed by police. The same week we saw the horrific video of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, with his hands in the air above his head, shot and killed by police.
It is obvious that it will take more than one trial to right the injustice of systemic racism and a profoundly broken criminal justice system.
Black people (and specifically Black men) are much more likely to die when they interact with police. People of color receive harsher treatment and punishment when they interact with law enforcement and the legal system. It has become abundantly clear that the criminal justice system is broken and needs to be overhauled.
This was evident right here in Lancaster when Jessica Lopez, Alexa Wise, Dylan Davis, Kat Patterson, Taylor Enterline and other young activists were arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights. For this their bail was set at an absurd one million dollars each.
Because of pressure from the community and from across the country, these activists’ bail was reduced within a few days. But today they still face felony charges. Their charges should be dropped.
Jessica Lopez, Alexa Wise, Dylan Davis, Kat Patterson, Taylor Enterline and other activists are still waiting for their trial. And they’re asking for your support. Please click here to find out how you can sign the petition, call or write to District Attorney Heather Adams, or donate to the activists’ legal funds: lancasterprotestersupport.wordpress.com/
What’s happening this week with the Chauvin trial isn’t just something that’s happening somewhere else. We have responsibilities here in Lancaster. And that includes continuing to support those who have been unfairly targeted by this broken criminal justice system.
Amazing work today by all of our wonderful volunteers! We are grateful that so many of you took time out of your weekend to help us check in our neighbors. Wonderful job to the folks who had never made phone calls before today - that took courage!
At our People's Recovery Kickoff we:
-Made hundreds of phone calls -Connected with people over our shared COVID experiences, and helped people access housing and vaccine resources -Gave folks an opportunity to get involved with a people-powered organization -Signed up for 29 future phone banking shifts!
We are strongest when all of us work together for the change we want to see in our communities. If you would like to help us make calls for the People's Recovery in the next month, sign up below!
After two decades of constant engagement in Afghanistan, the troops are finally coming home.
Thank you to all our members and allied organizations who have spent many years advocating for this move. Special shout out to Peace Action Network of Lancaster, the veterans at Common Defense Lancaster, and many more for all the work done locally.
Join us tomorrow (Saturday) for the kickoff of the People's Recovery. We need to make sure no one in our community is left behind in the recovery — and confront the longer-term crisis of inequality that has made the pandemic so much worse.
I signed up for this. It's tomorrow. Nobody has contacted me as to what I'm supposed to do. Can't educate and help people if the help aren't educated about the assistive programs and what not. ummm.....
We’re excited to announce that the No Backroom Deals pledge is back!
Once again, we are asking all municipal candidates and elected officials to pledge to refuse all corporate interest money. The people of Lancaster County should not have to compete with corporate bidders for the attention of their elected representatives.
We’re pleased to announce that the following 2021 candidates have already signed the No Backroom Deals pledge:
deLyn Alumbaugh, Adamstown Borough Council (incumbent) Robert Misciagna, Columbia Borough Council Rebecca Young, Columbia Borough Council Ajay Marwaha, Conestoga Valley School District Kalie Johnson, Denver Borough Council Jagger Gilleland, Elizabethtown School Board Kristy Moore, Elizabethtown School Board Sarah Zahn, Elizabethtown School Board Rebecca Beres, Ephrata Borough Council Teresa Caruthers, Ephrata Borough Council Alison Hutchinson, Hempfield School Board Amy Moreno, Hempfield School Board Theron Mitchell, Hempfield School Board Damon Myers, East Hempfield Supervisor Susan Dicklitch-Nelson, W. Hempfield Township Supervisor Lochard Calixte, Lancaster City Council Faith Craig, Lancaster City Council (incumbent) Janet Diaz, Lancaster City Council (incumbent) Ismail Smith-Wade-El, Lancaster City Council (incumbent) Danene Sorace, Lancaster City Mayor (incumbent) David Parry, Lancaster City School Board (incumbent) Vincent Derek Smith, Lancaster City Treasurer Mary Gattis, Lititz Borough Council Ryan Dodson, Manheim Township Commissioner Denyse Kling, Manheim Township Commissioner Teddy Vasquez, Manheim Township School Board Sam Droke-Dickinson, Warwick School Board
Our government belongs to us, the people. When corporations and the most well-connected among us conspire behind closed doors with elected representatives, the rest of us are left behind.
This matters at the local level. Developers and other big money interests regularly use campaign donations and favors to shape our public policy.
It’s a big part of why our community faces a growing housing crisis. We need to make sure that working families can afford to live and thrive here in Lancaster County. To do so, we need representatives who work to solve the housing crisis for every member of our community—not who have conflicts of interest because they’re getting campaign contributions from development corporations.
The good news is that standing up and doing the right thing is also popular. In 2019 the candidates who signed the pledge and campaigned on its message did better than any other candidates in the history of Manheim Township’s Borough Council elections.
Thanks to the candidates who have already signed. For some signers, this may mark a change from the past in how they are running their races. When we organize, we have the power to move candidates. And we have the power to elect leaders who are clear about who they’re working for: the people. ... See MoreSee Less
Why did air fresheners hanging from a mirror warrant the use of (what the cop "thought " was his) taser in the first place??? Hmmm?
Regardless of the warrant, cops shouldn't be shooting someone for getting back in his car OR refusing to comply. Shooting should be reserved for imminent violent danger to the cop or someone else, not "I'm pissed that he didn't listen to me."
What law says you cant have an air freshener hanging from your mirror? I better watch out. Insanity in the police force.
I just wonder if they if he was white would’ve he been pulled over? Answer to my own question... NO !
He thought he was being pulled over for the air freshener...
We need to question why a hanging air freshener is allowed to be a routine traffic stop for a cop to make. Why is a person with a gun with legal protection to use said gun as long as they "feared for their life" required to make that stop? Can we imagine a world where someone other than a police officer could decide if the air freshener was a reason to stop or interact with the Duante Wright? Also, who is most likely to be stopped for something as trivial/minor as an air freshner? As a white person, I have never been stopped by police for a broken tail light or any other minor violation or technicality like an air freshner. For those of us who are white we need to identify our privilege and then advocate for everyone to receive that privilege because "white privilege" is often just the right to expect to be treated fairly and with respect by the people and systems we interact with.
They situation in the united states is really worrisome,about the afro people,there really is no serious policy about the events in the country the violation of human rights is very worrying.
He was actually pulled over for expired tags. Please don't spread rumors.
I don’t care why the police pulled him over, it doesn’t matter. If he had been respectful and cooperative to the officer (LIKE EVERYONE SHOULD BE WHEN THEY GET PULLED OVER BY THE POLICE) none of this would have happened!! No one should defend an uncooperative person until they have spent a day in a police officers shoes.