May 18 primary voters pass limit on PA Governor’s power during an emergency

Talon Smith, Editor-in-Chief

Pennsylvania voters were asked to select party representatives for several positions including state Supreme Court Judge on May 18, 2021.  Additionally, voters approved a change to the emergency declaration powers of the governor which would limit the duration.

The full slate of results have since been made available from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

What made this primary one worth watching were the four different ballot questions at stake, all of which were passed. The first three of these were proposed amendments to the Pennsylvania constitution.

Unlike the candidate positions voted for in PA’s closed primaries, the ballot measures were open for those not registered with the Democrat or Republican parties.

The first two questions dealt with states of emergency procedures in PA. Both of them were highly relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first would allow the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a resolution, without the Governor’s signature, that could extend or terminate a state of emergency. This resolution passed with a 53% majority.

The second would limit the governor’s declarations of emergency to last only 21 days, unless extended by the legislature. This resolution also passed with a 53% majority.

The third question asked whether or not a provision should be added to the commonwealth’s constitution that would prohibit the denial or abridgment of rights due to a person’s race or ethnicity. This passed with a 71% majority.

The final ballot question asked if a previously established state loan system should be extended to include municipal fire and emergency medical services companies. It passed with a 72% majority.

Additionally, locally the incumbent mayor of Harrisburg Eric Papenfuse was defeated in the primary by City Council President Wanda Williams by fewer than 100 votes, according to Penn Live. Williams will face Timothy Rowbottom, who ran unopposed on the GOP primary ballot.  Williams is expected to win as Harrisburg is a heavily Democratic city.