From Tom Barnes:HARRISBURG -- A Centre County legislator and two "good government’’ groups are pushing for an April 2012 convention to update the state constitution.
Democratic Rep. Scott Conklin, Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA and Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital said today they will introduce a bill that would go before voters in a statewide referendum this November. Voters would be asked if they want to hold a convention in 2012 -- the first such constitutional convention since 1967-68.
If voters approve the idea, the convention would be held starting April 2, 2012. Any changes that are proposed to the constitution would then go before voters in the Nov. 6, 2012, general election.
"A constitutional convention is the most important reform this commonwealth could undertake at this time,’’ Mr. Conklin said.
Delegates to the convention would be barred from holding public office for two years after their term of service expired. Special-interest lobbyists would be barred from lobbying the delegates. Convention delegates would be paid at a salary equal to legislator’s base pay (about $79,000 a year) for the three months or so that a convention would last.
The issues that would come before any such convention might be decided by voters in November, at the same time they decided whether to hold a convention. A major question would be whether all aspects of the constitution would be debated at a convention, or whether issues would be limited. Issues could include decreasing the size of the Legislature and whether to grant voters the power of initiative or referendum.