Wednesday, January 11, 2023

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

On January 11, Senate Republicans gave final approval to
Senate Bill 1 (Laughlin-R-Erie) that proposes to 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.

The regulatory amendment was one of three constitutional amendments in the bill.  The other includes opening a window for victims of child sexual assault to file lawsuits and requiring voter ID at each election.

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

The bill was supported on final passage by all Republicans 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 now goes to the House 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.


-- AP: Senate Passes Proposed Constitutional Amendments; Poses Test To New PA Governor

-- PA Capital-Star: Relief For Child Sex Abuse Survivors Passes Senate As Part Of Constitutional Amendment Package

-- The Center Square: PA’s ‘Divisive’ Proposed Constitutional Amendments Inch Closer To Ballot Box

-- Scranton Times Editorial: Cynicism Dominates PA Senate Republican Agenda

-- PA Capital-Star Editorial Cartoon: Is There A Statute Of Limitations On Bad Ideas?

[Posted: January 11, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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