ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
SB 940 would amend Article XI of the Pennsylvania Constitution to require that the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), or a successor legislative agency prescribed by the General Assembly, will be responsible for:
- Advertising proposed amendments or emergency amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution;
- Preparing the question to be included on the ballot; and
- Preparing the “accurate and factual summary of the amendment.”
SB 940 would upend the balance of power under Article XI, fundamentally changing what the Pennsylvania Constitution has required for nearly 200 years.
The legislature has the sole responsibility for drafting constitutional amendments. Proposed amendments must pass each chamber in two consecutive legislative sessions before being presented to voters in a ballot referendum. Proposed amendments are not subject to gubernatorial veto and therefore are not constrained by traditional checks and balances between the branches of government. By allowing a legislative agency to draft the amendment language and determine what information the electorate sees about the amendment, SB 940 would give the legislature wide latitude to control public messaging on any amendment, in whatever way it may deem necessary, to persuade the electorate to support its proposals.
Check the bill's status here.