Monday, January 9, 2023

Senate Republicans Move Constitutional Amendment Giving General Assembly Unilateral Power To Veto Regulations, With No Oversight

The first order of business in the new session for Senate Republicans was moving
Senate Bill 1 (Laughlin-R-Erie) that would amend the state constitution to give the General Assembly unilateral power to veto any state regulation by simply passing a resolution, without any oversight, and bypassing the Governor entirely.

Existing law-- the Regulatory Review Act-- requires passing a resolution and presenting it to the Governor for action-- signature or veto.  So does the state constitution.

This second constitutional amendment was added into Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson), Majority Chair of the Senate State Government Committee.  The original bill only included one constitutional amendment requiring voter identification at each election.

Loading one bill with multiple constitutional amendments has been a Republican tactic to make them harder to vote against.

Adding the unilateral power to veto any state regulation without any oversight was supported by all Republicans in the Committee and Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh).

This is the second time the General Assembly is considering these amendments to the constitution.  If they are passed by both the Senate and House this year they will be presented to voters at the next scheduled election.

Bills with constitutional amendments are, themselves, not presented to the Governor for action.

Senate Bill 1 is now on the Senate Calendar for action.


Requiring a resolution to be presented to the Governor for his action was included in the state constitution approved by voters in 1967 and in state constitutions adopted before that.  In fact, the text of Pennsylvania’s 1874 constitution posted by the Duquesne University School of Law includes presentment.

Presentment provides the classic “checks and balances” between the Legislative and Executive branches of government you learned about in civics class.

When then House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) first introduced this constitutional amendment as a separate bill in November of 2021, he used as an example of the kind of regulation meant to be deal with by the amendment the final DEP regulation setting limits on carbon pollution from power plans consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

However, the provision would apply to any regulation adopted by any state agency for any reason.

[Posted: January 9, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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