Abortion amendment

State Rep. Melissa Shusterman speaks against a House Rules committee vote to move a Republican bill to the house floor that proposes constitutional amendments, including one on abortion, on July 8 in Harrisburg.

In the next few days, Pennsylvanians across the state will begin seeing public advertisements for six proposed changes to the state’s constitution.

The potential alterations to state laws include everything from voter ID to abortion to, perhaps, finally pushing a window for relief for child sex abuse victims across the finish line.

While many overlook these pieces and head to the polls without as much information as they should have, the advertising of these changes is critical, particularly in the wake of state officials overriding years of hard work on these legally required public notifications last year.

Last year, the Department of State failed to advertise the language created over years of effort on the proposed amendment to open a two-year window that would allow victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against their alleged abusers regardless of the time since the abuse happened.

When the amendment wasn’t advertised, it pushed the process back two years. The outrageous omission led to the resignation of the Secretary of State and initiated an external investigation by the Office of State Inspector Genera. That investigation showed the error was not intentional.

PennLive confirmed with the Department of State its plans to meet “the constitutionally required timing of advertisement of the proposed constitutional amendments in 127 newspapers,” over the coming days and months. The Daily Item will be one of those newspapers, with an ad scheduled to appear on Tuesday. According to PennLive, “Along with the newspaper ads appearing next week, the notice of the proposed amendments will run again in those 127 publications the week of Sept. 1 and the week of Oct. 1, depending on the newspaper’s publication schedule.”

The six amendments, which could be put in front of voters as early as next May’s primary, have a wide reach. In addition to finally opening the two-year window for civil suits, other amendments could give the state’s auditor general authorization to audit election results, give the nominees for governor the power to select a Lt. Governor candidate rather than run in a separate election, require voters to show ID every time they vote and ensure the state constitution would not “grant the right to taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion.”

In some regard, the measures are an attempt at a run-around of a potential governor’s veto. On Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf sued to stop the amendments. Agree or disagree with the amendments proposed, putting them in front of the voters is a legitimate option, particularly on hot-button issues like voter ID and abortion.

What happens next is up to the voters, who will need to be as informed as ever when these items eventually appear on the ballot. Certainly, there will be a blitz of information provided by advocates of all sides of these issues over the coming year.

So pay attention. Stay informed.

— The (Sunbury) Daily Item

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