Failure is Not an Option

Vote Russ Diamond for State Representative

If you're reading this, you're probably already aware of two constitutional amendments on the May 18 ballot addressing a governor's emergency powers in Pennsylvania. And you're probably already inclined to vote YES on those two ballot questions.

To recap, the first amendment offered will allow a concurrent resolution from the General Assembly to terminate a disaster emergency – such as my HR836 last year – to take effect without needing approval from the governor. The second amendment offered would reduce the default duration of any disaster emergency from 90 to 21 days and require legislative approval to continue beyond the initial 21 days. Click here for a more detailed explanation of these proposals.

Failure to approve these amendments is not an option, as the ramifications of failure are downright frightening.

First, you should know that if a constitutional amendment ballot question fails to win approval by the voters, it cannot be placed on the ballot again for five years, according to Article XI Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the same section which authorizes amendments to the document.

Five years. Think about that for a second.

If these two amendments don't receive a majority YES vote on May 18, we could be stuck in perpetual disaster emergencies, not just under Tom Wolf but perhaps under whomever succeeds him, until at least the Spring of 2026. That's a very long time for a governor to keep the Commonwealth in a stranglehold by needing only 17 Senators to agree with him to avoid any threat of a 2/3 majority vote to override a veto. This is a threat to our right to the republican form of government guaranteed to every state by Article IV Section 4 of the United States Constitution.

Further, given the lengths Wolf went to by tag-teaming his disaster emergency with the Disease Prevention and Control Law, the subject matter of any future declared disaster emergency will be limited only by the imagination and whim of the person occupying the governor's office. Some of our fundamental rights have been encroached upon over the last year, and I shudder to think what other fundamental rights might fall prey to a future chief executive.

Tom Wolf has renewed his COVID disaster emergency four times for 90 days each. He has renewed his opioid disaster emergency a whopping 14 times. That's forty-two months, or three and a half years. The next governor could simply declare a disaster emergency on his or her first day in office and with the aid of 17 willing Senators, remain untouchable by the legislative branch for an entire four-year term. There would be no balance of power. One man rule.

Approval of these amendments is now in the hands of the People. Continuing down this path in Pennsylvania without a balance of power is a disaster in its own right. We do not need to recount the many foibles, blunders, and tragedies of Tom Wolf's horrific management over the last year.

Failure is NOT an option.

It is also not an option for you to merely show up and vote YES. Your vote is not enough.

You need to reach out to your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors and convince them to vote YES as well. We've developed some tools for you to help get the word out. We beg you to utilize them to create and encourage your own team of YES voters. Take the lead – don't wait for someone else to do it. And don't think others will take care of getting the word out.

Don't forget to tell your friends who are registered to vote as independents or with a third party that they can vote on these questions as well, even though May 18 is a primary election. There are also four special legislative elections scattered across the state in which independent and third party voters are eligible to vote, including the 48th Senatorial District special election here in Lebanon and portions of Dauphin and York counties.

All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can vote on ballot questions and special elections. Voting will be conducted at your usual polling place. Each polling place will have a special ballot for independent and third party voters, in addition to the municipal primary ballot for Republicans and Democrats. Absentee and mail ballots can be obtained through your county's Board of Elections.

It's up to you. Your vote is critical, but take no chance that anyone in your circle is not fully informed. Talk to them. Get the word out. Offer them a ride to the polls. Stand at the polls to help educate voters on their way in. Lead the charge. We need all hands on deck.

Because failure is just not an option.
Russ Diamond

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