Four Pa. ballot questions explained in 60 seconds

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The chances are high that you’ve heard of the four ballot questions that will be asked to Pennsylvanians on their primary election ballots.

What you may not understand, yet, is the exact meaning behind these questions and what they represent for our state.

Our Dennis Owens went against the clock, trying to explain all of the questions in exactly 60 seconds.

QUESTION ONE: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

DENNIS: The legislature can pass a bill to end the disaster declaration, which they did. Governor Wolf has the right to veto the bill, which he did. This question allows the legislature to pass the bill with a 2/3 majority.

QUESTION TWO: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

DENNIS: Question two would end a state of emergency after 21 days unless the Governor consults the legislature to continue. Currently, state of emergencies end after 90 days and the Governor can reauthorize after the 90-day period.

QUESTION THREE: Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity?

DENNIS: Question three brings the PA Constitution in line with the Federal Constitution. It would ban discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity.

QUESTION FOUR: Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances, and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies? 

DENNIS: The fourth questions deals with fire departments. There’s a pot of money that all volunteer fire companies can tap into for loans to buy equipment. The question asks if fire companies with a paid staff should have access to that fund.

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