Voters face ballot questions in primary

Voters heading to the polls this primary election will be faced not only with candidate choices but with four ballot questions.

Three of the questions potentially amend the state constitution, two of which determine the future of Disaster Declarations. The other considers denial of equal rights based on race or ethnicity.

The fourth ballot question is a budget referendum regarding funding for paid municipal fire departments and EMS companies.

Lycoming County Democratic Committee Chair Linda Sosniak and state Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Loyalsock Township, recently spoke to the referendums.

The first referendum reads: “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?”

Sosniak said she would not vote in favor of that ballot question.

“The governor should have the power to put the emergency in place,” she said.

Wheeland said he would vote in favor.

“I believe the governor should have the ability to declare a state of emergency, but any governor should not have the ability to continue to renew that declaration of emergency forever,” he said. “Otherwise, it becomes one branch of government that rules.”

The second ballot question reads, in part: “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.”

Wheeland said he would support that referendum. Sosniak said she would not.

Both indicated they would vote in favor of ballot question 3 calling to amend the state Constitution 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.

The fourth ballot question considers expansion of the state’s loan program for volunteer fire companies to also municipal fire companies and EMS service nonprofits.

Wheeland said he would vote in favor.

Sosniak said she was unsure how she would vote on that particular ballot question.

“It’s a little bit up in the air for me,” she said.

Added Lycoming County Republican Committee Chair Vincent Matteo: “We want all four of the ballot questions to pass.”


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