Friday, September 24, 2021

Play

New Yorkers voice concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional and state voting districts; and providers ask the Supreme Court to act on Texas' new abortion law.

Play

The January 6th committee subpoenas former Trump officials; a Senate showdown looms over the debt ceiling; the CDC okays COVID boosters for seniors; and advocates testify about scams targeting the elderly.

Play

A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Groups Hopeful After Judicial Amendment Stalls

Play

Monday, February 22, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Judicial-independence organizations are celebrating a temporary victory now that a proposed amendment to the state constitution will not be on the ballot in the May primary.

House Bill 38 would create judicial districts drawn by state legislators and impose a residency requirement for the election of appellate court judges.

Republican lawmakers who introduced the amendment say it would give different regions of the state more representation on the state Supreme Court.

Deborah Gross, President and CEO of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, countered it would make judges who currently are selected in statewide elections less independent and more like state legislators who need to be responsive to a local electorate.

"The appellate-court judges determine the law applicable to all Pennsylvania citizens," Gross emphasized. "They don't take one geographic area into consideration when they are making their decisions."

The full House and Senate needed to pass House Bill 38 last week for it to appear on the May ballot but it did not come up for a vote. If passed later this year, it will be on the ballot in November.

Gross argued the measure is a partisan effort to reshape the state Supreme Court to be more favorable to Republicans who hold majorities in both houses of the General Assembly. She noted it had passed the House in 2019 but lay dormant until last July.

"After the Supreme Court had issued some decisions concerning closures with respect to COVID, voting and elections, it was reintroduced quickly because there was a lot of displeasure with the court's ruling," Gross explained.

Five of the seven justices currently on the Supreme Court are Democrats.

Republican legislators still want to put the amendment on the November ballot. Gross pointed out that, so far, the bill has been pushed through without hearings, expert testimony or debate, but she is hopeful that may change.

"I did just read that Sen. [Jake] Corman, [R-Bellefonte] recognizes that there needs to be some hearings on this now, maybe the topic of merit appointments should be discussed, that this bill should be reviewed with a little bit of caution," Gross remarked.

The Judicial Independence Project of Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan coalition of more than 125 organizations, has pledged to continue its efforts in opposition to the bill.


get more stories like this via email

The climate resilience package includes $1.5 billion for measures to better defend the state against wildfires. (Peter Buschmann/U.S. Forest Service)

Environment

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …


Social Issues

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …

Social Issues

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…


According to the World Health Organization, about one in six people age 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …

Environment

SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…

Roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States. (JP Photography/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …

Environment

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …

Social Issues

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021