In the five years since the infamous pay raise, calls for structural government reform have reverberated throughout the Keystone State.
Whether the focus of those calls is term limits, the size of the state legislature, the way electoral districts are drawn after each decennial census, the manner in which Pennsylvania chooses members of the judiciary, the state budget process, or the prospect for referendum and recall, the people have voiced opinions.
The state legislature, despite holding all the cards on these issues, has been mostly unresponsive.
Immediately following the historic 2006 election cycle, an open records law was passed. Both chambers of the General Assembly also enacted internal rule changes, although those rules can be set aside by a simple vote among legislators. These events fostered some hope among Pennsylvanians that serious change was around the corner.
But since that time, no real reform has come from Harrisburg. Additionally, the level of electoral pressure in state legislative races has dropped significantly since the 2006 cycle. A logical conclusion to be drawn is that further electoral pressure will bring more actual reform.
Unfortunately, the electoral pressure provided by PACleanSweep and others in 2005-06 created a lot of bad blood between citizens and their elected servants. Faith in the institutions of government has not recovered. Scandals and corruption have complicated the situation.
Restoring Citizen Confidence
But there is a way to rebuild citizen confidence in government without creating more bad blood.
Article I Section 2 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania clearly states that the people at all times have the right to “alter, reform or abolish” their government. But the document remains silent on exactly how citizens might go about exercising this right. No specific mechanism is provided.
Therefore, the answer is a limited citizens’ constitutional convention, where We the People, not politicians or special interests, can gather to propose changes to the structures of government while protecting individual rights. Only the General Assembly can initiate such a convention.
Reform Amnesty Program
PACleanSweep offers its Reform Amnesty Program in the interest of restoring faith in government without creating any more bad blood. The program offers members of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly a window of opportunity to sign on to a plan that gives citizens a mechanism by which they can exercise their inalienable and indefeasible rights guaranteed by Article I Section 2.
PACleanSweep will count heads and take note of which legislators support the idea and which don’t. We will strive to educate Pennsylvanians on how a convention would work and provide materials and information to aid this effort. We will utilize every tool available to end Pennsylvania’s crisis in confidence.
What You Can Do
If you’re a legislator, your job is easy. Issue a written public statement in support of the Citizen’s Constitutional Convention Act of 2011, including your pledge to cosponsor the legislation as soon as practicable after the 2011-12 legislative session begins and help it move through committee and come to a floor vote in timely fashion so the bill’s referendum question in Section 3(a) can be placed on the ballot on November 8, 2011.
If you’re a non-legislative public servant, you can use your position and influence to convince legislators to support the idea, as a convention could also have a positive impact on faith in the other branches and levels of government in the Commonwealth, as well as address problems that may exist on an intergovernmental level.
If you’re a citizen, forward this email to your friends and family, familiarize yourself with the provisions of the Citizen’s Constitutional Convention Act of 2011, contact your legislators to inquire as to whether they support the idea or not, join our Facebook page, and send us your ideas on how this issue might be further promoted.
As we learned during the post-pay raise period, the best way to have an impact on public policy is to exert public pressure.
We don’t relish the prospect of repeating the efforts of 2005-06 that led to the ouster of a Supreme Court Justice, the Senate Pro Tempore, the Senate Majority Leader, the House Minority Whip and 52 other legislators through electoral defeat or “voluntary” retirement.
But we’ll do it if we have to.
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