The Big Con

Did you ever have a parent tell you, “Nothing good happens after midnight”? In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, nothing good happens after 11 p.m.

In July 2022, under the cover of darkness and with no public notice, extremist state legislators undermined our rights in a partisan power grab by passing a bill that would drastically change our state constitution. It proposed five constitutional amendments that would undermine our democracy and threaten the fundamental rights of every Pennsylvanian.

This raid on Pennsylvanians’ civil rights and liberties is an attempt to sneak five amendments into our state constitution that would:

  1. End the state constitutional right to abortion.
  2. Undermine the balance of power by allowing the legislature to overturn any executive branch regulation by a simple majority vote.
  3. Mandate a restrictive requirement that all voters, at all elections, show unexpired, government-issued identification.
  4. Shift authority to oversee election audits from county election offices to the auditor general, who has no expertise in elections.
  5. Abolish the election of the lieutenant governor, replacing it with a party-appointed system.

These proposed amendments are a disaster for everyday Pennsylvanians and the balance of power in Harrisburg.

Senate Bill 106

The bill behind the midnight raid.

ACLU-PA Bill Page SB 106

On July 7, seven days after the deadline for passing the annual state budget, Republicans in the state Senate made a motion to waive the rule barring votes after 11 p.m. They had a plan. The midnight raid on our state constitution was about to begin.

Nearing midnight on July 7, Republican state senators voted to add an anti-abortion amendment to a bill with four other proposed constitutional amendments. The next morning, on July 8, the Senate passed the bill and began the process of amending the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The next day, all Republicans, save four, and one Democrat in the state House approved the amendments that had been passed by the Senate.

Read the ACLU-PA's memo opposing SB 106.

Read Senate Bill 106 here

 PA Constitutional Amendment Process

Our founding document is under attack.

Find out more about the amendment process.

PA Constitutional Amendment Process

The constitution is a document for protecting and enhancing people’s liberty, not restricting it.

The majority party in the legislature, frustrated by the governor's democratic check on its power, has abandoned its job of legislating in favor of exploiting the constitutional amendment process to bypass the governor. They are taking one-party rule to the extreme by trying to force permanent changes to the PA constitution and impose their partisan agenda on every resident of the commonwealth.

State lawmakers will need to pass these proposed amendments to the constitution for a second time during the 2023-2024 session before voters decide whether to adopt them.

Pennsylvanians could vote on these amendments as early as the May 2023 primary election.

Legislating by constitutional amendment

During the 2021-2022 session, legislators proposed nearly 100 amendments to the PA Constitution.

PA Constitution

Proposed amendments to our state constitution cannot be vetoed by the governor. After passing the legislature in two consecutive sessions, proposed amendments are presented to the voters as ballot questions.

Legislators know this, and the majority party, frustrated by the veto power of the governor, has decided to use the amendment process as an end-run around the governor.

Tired of trying to find common ground, tired of legislating, they are abandoning compromise, cooperation, and the checks and balances of government to bulldoze through unnecessary, permanent, and partisan changes to our state constitution.

In the 2021-2022 session alone, legislators introduced 100 proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Click below to view this session's bill tracker.