Pennsylvania voters will consider four statewide ballot questions, including three proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution, during the May 18 primary election.
While primary elections are typically open to only registered Republicans and Democrats to select their parties’ nominees for the November general election, all registered voters—regardless of party affiliation—may participate this year to vote on the ballot measures. That includes independent voters who are not registered with any party.
Also during the May primary, Republican and Democratic voters will select their parties’ nominees for a variety of local government and county offices, judicial seats, school boards and more. There will also be special elections to fill two vacant state Senate seats and two vacant state House seats, which all voters may participate in regardless of party. Voters may participate in one of the special elections if they live in: Lackawanna or Lebanon counties or parts of Armstrong, Butler, Dauphin, Indiana, Luzerne, Monroe, Somerset, Westmoreland, or York counties.
The following questions will be asked on all ballots statewide. Read below for an explanation of what each measure means and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s position.
Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?
What it means: A yes vote would allow municipal fire departments or companies with paid personnel and emergency medical services companies to apply for loans to update equipment and/or facilities through a state program that is currently open only to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads.
PFB’s position: PFB does not have any policy on this issue.
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?
What it means: A yes vote would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to give the General Assembly authority to end or extend a disaster emergency declaration. Currently, that power is limited to the governor. This would be done via a resolution passed by both the House and Senate, which would not need to be presented to the governor and therefore could not be vetoed.
PFB’s position: While PFB does not have policy directly relating to this provision, our policy generally supports giving the General Assembly a greater role in determining the length of disaster emergency declarations.
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?
What it means: A yes vote would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to limit disaster emergency declarations made by the governor to a maximum of 21 days unless extended by a vote from the General Assembly.
PFB’s position: PFB policy directly supports this proposal.
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity?
What it means: A yes vote would add a new section to the Pennsylvania Constitution ensuring freedom from racial and ethnic discrimination under the law. While such protections are already in place at the federal level, adding this clause to the Pennsylvania Constitution would ensure these protections would continue to apply at the state and local levels even if the federal protections were removed.
PFB’s position: While PFB does not have policy directly relating to adding this language to the Pennsylvania Constitution, Farm Bureau policy opposes discrimination based on race and national origin.