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Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Looking to solve a Harrisburg problem, Pa. House Speaker Rozzi turns to Pittsburgh for advice

Khalif Ali, executive director of the good government group Common Cause Pennsylvania, told Rozzi his organization is concerned about the way legislators have attempted to use amendments to the state constitution. “The constitutional amendment process was never meant to be used as a means to advance vetoed and failed legislation, or to punish the court for decisions that weren’t favorable to a party’s agenda,” Ali said. He pointed to Senate Bill 106, a multi-pronged constitutional amendment package, passed by the General Assembly last year, that seeks to, among other things, change the state constitution to say there was no constitutional right to an abortion in Pennsylvania. It amounted to “a deliberate move to leverage a very sensitive issue to advance a political agenda,” Ali said. “We’ve gotten to a point where some elected officials are spending much more time finding loopholes in the system than moving towards a democracy that works for everyone and collectively solving our pressing societal issues,” he added. “What worries me the most is the fact that we’re getting dangerously close to normalizing this behavior. This listening tour is happening at the exact right time and depending on how the information is used, it could establish a basis for fixing a broken Harrisburg,” Ali continued.

Voting & Elections 01.25.2023

Texas Tribune/Houston Chronicle: Two years after Texas’ voting rights showdown gripped the nation, lawmakers again push dozens of elections bills

“Looking back over the past few legislative sessions, there have been repeated attempts to find creative ways to prosecute people for what really looks like an honest mistake,” said Anthony Gutierrez, executive director of Common Cause Texas, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for policies such as online voting registration and ending gerrymandering. “There’s no infrastructure to tell people what the process is for when you can vote again [after release from prison] or how you can vote again.”

Money & Influence 01.20.2023

Bloomberg: Ohio’s Historic Corruption Case Tests Limits of Citizens United

“We’ve legalized bribery in our campaign finance system,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio and a longtime Ohio advocate of campaign finance and government reform. “This case proves we’ve essentially set the stage for Ohioans to be taken advantage of. And they were.”

Voting & Elections 01.16.2023

Patriot-News/PennLive (OP-ED): Some lawmakers are trying to sneak through legislation to advance their hardline agenda

Despite Pennsylvania voters’ overwhelming rejection of hardliner policies this past November, as the new legislative session begins, it’s clear very little has changed in Harrisburg. Lawmakers are still using sleight-of-hand tricks to force their hardliner agenda on Pennsylvanians because they can’t pass it through regular legislation. As they have for so many years, these lawmakers have ignored the voice of the people and are trying to circumvent the legislative process by forcing through constitutional amendments that limit voting rights, create unnecessary and expensive bureaucracies, and upset the balance of power in the state government.

Yahoo News: 'A state by state fight': Legal battles over redistricting maps continue into the new year

“It’s a state by state fight,” Dan Vicuna, the national redistricting manager of Common Cause, a voting rights organization, told Yahoo News. “In this country, there's a long history of using the redistricting process to discriminate against people of color or to discriminate against voters of one party.” According to voting rights advocates, a wave of racial gerrymandering is impacting maps across the country. The 2020 U.S Census Bureau reported that the overall racial diversity of the United States increased since 2010, and the Black population was the most prevalent in parts of the South. “But just because communities of color may drive population growth, that doesn't mean they have a seat at the table,” Dan Vicuna, the national redistricting manager of Common Cause, a national organization fighting for fair redistricting, told Yahoo News. “Unfortunately, in this country, there's a long history of elected officials in power using that power to either pack Black, Latino, Native American Asian voters into as few districts as possible or alternatively cracking those communities to spread voters throughout a bunch of different districts, so they have no power in any one district.”

Charlotte Observer: NC court calls its role ‘the bedrock of our sacred system.’ Will US Supreme Court agree?

“This case has set a clear precedent for redistricting in North Carolina,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina, in a press release. “Voting maps must be free from gerrymandering and respect the right of North Carolinians to have a voice in choosing their representatives. Our districts belong to the people, not politicians.”

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