It's revenge time in Harrisburg –

Posted on January 27, 2021 at 1:45 p.m.

With the new two-year legislative period in our state capital and the even tighter control of the Republicans after the parliamentary elections on November 3rd, the GOP would like to send the Democrats a targeted message: You will for your "sins. "

They plan to do this by promoting constitutional changes that:

• Allow us to elect judges from regions, not nationwide

• Reduce the governor's power to limit his emergency statements to just 21 days without legal approval.

There are two other amendments that were adopted in the last meeting and may be available soon. This includes that candidates for lieutenant governor must run on the same ticket as gubernatorial candidates in primary school, and that district judges, like other judicial officers, must advocate retention after being elected to an initial full term. District judges have a six-year term.

The Republicans' goal is to swiftly approve the two key measures so that they go to us voters in the May 18 primary.

These changes are not to be taken lightly. I believe it is fair to say that both are motivated by Republican anger and frustration, especially the way Governor Tom Wolf handled staying at home and other restrictive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic is. Wolf's Declaration of Urgency, which gave him exceptional powers as of March last year and has since been renewed several times, has enraged most Republican and some Democratic lawmakers.

You have accused Wolf of being dictatorial and creating an unfavorable business climate in the state due to restrictions and / or bans on non-essential businesses. The most important include restaurants, hotels and related businesses. They also accuse him of not being consistent about which companies were forced to close compared to others who owned essentially the same goods but were given exceptions to stay open.

When the Republicans took legal action against Wolf to end the declaration of emergency, the Democratic-dominated Supreme Court sided with Wolf.

Some political analysts say that, along with the court overturning the Republican redistribution card two years ago, which gave Democrats parity in the state's Congressional delegation – 9-9 versus 13-5, which Republicans favored before the verdict – the retaliatory stance called for district appeals judges to be elected. Such a move would likely result in the election of more Republican judges across the state.

Five of the seven Supreme Court justices were elected Democrats. One – Chief Justice Thomas Saylor – was elected Republican, and one was appointed by Wolf. Saylor will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 this year, so his seat will be contested in this year's elections.

Justice candidates can submit to each other, which means their names can appear on both the Democratic and Republican ballots. However, when they request retention after their 10 year tenure, they appear on the ballot in an impartial label rather than under a party banner.

Both measures were largely party-politically approved by the General Assembly during the 2019-20 legislative period. The state constitution requires that this session be passed again. After that, voters receive a “yes” or “no” to confirm or reject the proposals.

By the way, although those of us who aren't registered with any of the major political parties and don't usually go to the Pennsylvania closed primaries, we can vote on statewide and local issues.

With a background in journalism and political science, I have at least read the biographies of candidates for the highest courts in the state – Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme – and given weight to the legal ratings of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Most of the potential voters don't. Many do not vote for these positions because they are not familiar with the candidates. Some make their choices based on where the candidates are from, their ethnicity (or lack of it) because of their name, or other ridiculous reasons.

Spoiler alert: I only did this once, in 2015, when I voted for Christine Donohue on the state's Supreme Court. Halfway through her ten-year tenure, she is from Lansford, a community next door to my hometown Summit Hill, and a graduate of my alma mater, East Stroudsburg University. I was relieved that my short-sighted geographic partisanship in voting for "local women do well" was confirmed by a much more relevant source – the state bar – which gave it a "highly recommended" rating.

Posted by Bruce Frassinelli |

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