The Review

Restoring checks-and-balances is on the Pennsylvan­ia ballot

- Lowman S. Henry Columnist Lowman S. Henry is chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal and American Radio Journal.

There are a number of ways in which the Democrat Left is especially adept at advancing its policy agenda. Chief among them is giving nice sounding, but totally misleading names to their initiative­s. As a result, they are able to rally support that would not be there if the true nature of the policy were widely known.

For example, the “Affordable Care Act,” commonly known as Obamacare, has been anything but affordable and was a major step toward their ultimate goal of a national single-payer health care system. Most recently, the “American Rescue Plan Act” purporting to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be a vehicle for funding a wide-ranging Left-wing wish list.

Here in Pennsylvan­ia, the Left is employing that tactic to mislead the public on the impact of two proposed state constituti­onal amendments that will appear on the May primary ballot to restore checks and balances to the process of declaring emergencie­s.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s flagrant abuse of his emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic has made the amendments necessary. Wolf has used his emergency powers to decimate the state’s economy, causing many small businesses to shut their doors and forcing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvan­ians onto the unemployme­nt rolls.

A system of checks-and-balances is core to our American system of government. That is why the Founding Fathers divided power between three branches of government with the intent that the legislatur­e would enact laws, the executive would enforce/administer the law, and the judiciary would interpret the law.

In Pennsylvan­ia, that system has broken down. Gov. Wolf has refused to abide by — or even consult and cooperate — with the legislatur­e while the Supreme Court has resorted to rewriting the law. As a result, Wolf has governed by executive fiat and the power of the legislatur­e has been emasculate­d.

To restore the balance of power the legislatur­e has proposed amending the state constituti­on to restore what had previously been settled law giving lawmakers the ability to end a gubernator­ial declaratio­n of emergency. The process of amending the state constituti­on is complex: the proposed amendment had to be approved by two consecutiv­e sessions of the General Assembly — which it has — and now must be approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

It falls to the Pennsylvan­ia Department of State to write the wording of the actual question to be placed on the May 18 primary ballot. The department is under the control of the governor who is fighting hard to have the amendments defeated. As a result, the wording of the question is complex, confusing and totally misleading.

Wolf’s state department claims the wording “fairly, accurately and clearly apprise the voter of the issued to be voted on.” It does not. The wording makes it appear that the amendments would remove checks and balances, when in fact it restores checks and balances. The wording also employs the usual Left-wing scare tactic by making it appear that the legislatur­e would end such emergency powers “regardless of the severity” of the crisis, which is not the case.

State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward pointed out recently that the ballot questions are “clearly worded to try and get voters to vote no.” Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman agreed.

The Department of State has bungled a number of ballot issues most notably failing to properly advertise an amendment that would have expanded the window for child sexual abuse victims to file civil lawsuits.

Corman is correct in focusing on voter education. Voters need to know the proposed amendments are all about restoring not only the balance of power between the three branches of government, but in a larger sense restoring the rights and freedoms of every Pennsylvan­ian.

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