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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.

New York Magazine: Democrats Defeat Kathy Hochul’s Pick to Be New York’s Top Judge

Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, said she was “horrified” Hochul was contemplating hiring a litigator, adding that it would be “a brutal attack on a democratically elected institution.”

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.

CT Insider: Proposal would allow term limits for CT governor, add voter initiatives

Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut, the elections watchdog organization, said Tuesday she doubts the proposed GOP bills will see much life. "These are not things that ever come out of committees here," Quickmire said. "Consider the time it takes to make anything happen that involves the Constitution. People have the ability to elect their direct representatives and make their point in that way. We at Common Cause are very interested in having as many people as possible participate in our elections, our government, to run for office, and be part of the process."

Insider: Trump won't be able to terminate the US Constitution but a Republican-led effort to rewrite it continues

"We also know hearing what the opposition is talking about that they are going to be hitting every state that they can think of," Viki Harrison, director of Constitutional Convention and Protecting Dissent Programs at Common Cause, told Insider. Harrison and others involved in trying to thwart the movement have said that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has fundamentally changed how Americans respond to this issue. While the high court has no role in a convention, Harrison said people are now aware that major changes to fundamental rights can occur. "We're talking about rights about Americans have taken for granted," Harrison said. "I think that is what has woken the public up and why I am talking to way more about this this year than last year ."

New York Times: The Jan. 6 Report Is Out. Now the Real Work Begins.

This response to Watergate was not inevitable. Reform depended on the establishment or expansion of a robust network of organizations, including Common Cause and Congress Watch. Those organizations insisted that legislation creating stronger checks on the executive branch, strengthening Congress and imposing laws to make it easier to hold officials accountable were the only ways to check bad behavior. ... The problems that the Jan. 6 report highlights are different in nature from the problems during Watergate. Though addressing abuses of executive power, the Jan. 6 report reveals how our flawed election system creates opportunities to subvert the democratic process. And recreating the kind of coalition that was central to the post-Watergate period will be challenging. Republicans, who will control the House, have doubled down on election denialism and voter restrictions. It’s difficult these days for Congress to pass a budget, let alone major reform legislation. Anti-democratic forces benefit from a conservative media ecosystem that propagates disinformation and conspiracy theories. But Democrats and reasonable Republicans have to play the long game, as reformers did after Watergate, by revising proposals, keeping public attention on the issue and being prepared to move forward on legislation when the next opportunity emerges. The good news is that there now exists a wide array of groups, such as Common Cause and the Brennan Center for Justice, working on these issues. Moreover, the radicalized Republican Party ensures that the threats won’t disappear from public attention.

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