After Wolf Administration failed to advertise constitutional amendment proposal, Senate approves Phillips-Hill’s measure requiring greater transparency

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HARRISBURG – The Senate of Pennsylvania approved legislation authored by Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) that would require the Department of State to create a publicly accessible tracking system of proposed constitutional amendments.

Phillips-Hill said the legislation is in response to a failure, which was highlighted in a 68-page report from the Office of Inspector General, of the Department of State to carry out its legal and constitutional duty to advertise proposed constitutional amendment.

The Constitutional Amendment Accountability Act would require the Department of State to create a publicly accessible website to provide Pennsylvanians a transparent way to track every step of constitutional amendment process, including:

  • A copy of the notice and constitutionally required deadline.
  • A listing of every newspaper in which the constitutional amendment notice was published and the date of said publication.
  • The earliest possible Election Day it may be considered by voters.

In the 2019-20 session, the General Assembly approved House Bill 963, a proposed constitutional amendment, which would have created a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file litigation against their abusers. The Department of State admitted earlier this year that it failed to properly advertise the proposed constitutional amendment, forcing the entire effort to be restarted. 

In her comments to her colleagues, Phillips-Hill highlighted that internal changes to the system are not enough and stressed that transparency is needed.

“For something as consequential as a constitutional amendment, this bill will ensure this administration or any future administration will not fail victims or any other Pennsylvanian with a vested interest in a proposed constitutional amendment,” Sen. Phillips-Hill said.

“Every Pennsylvanian should hold this Department of State accountable moving forward through this transparent process,” she added.

The legislation moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.

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