Legislature

Wolf sues GOP-led legislature to stop abortion and voter identity issues from reaching Pennsylvania ballot boxes

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HARRISBURG — Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is suing the Republican-controlled legislature in the state’s highest court over its efforts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to restrict — and potentially ban — access to abortion, add new requirements for voters at the polls and reduced executive powers.

Wolf is making an urgent appeal to the state Supreme Court, asking its seven justices to stop the legislature from advancing a controversial eleventh-hour measure that would ask voters to weigh in on five proposed amendments to the state’s constitution. State.

Among them: declaring that the constitution provides no rights related to abortion, including taxpayer funding of the procedure.

Republicans who control both the State House and the Senate also want voters to decide whether to require government-issued ID to vote in all cases and give the legislature more leverage on the rejection of regulations written by a governor’s administration.

Wolf, in his lawsuit, said legislative Republicans passed the proposed amendments with little debate as they wrapped up work on the overdue state budget in early July. In doing so, he argues, GOP lawmakers have unconstitutionally bundled together disparate elements of their “failed” agenda.

The governor also claimed that individual proposed amendments, including one that would restrict access to abortion, violate longstanding constitutional protections.

>> LEARN MORE: A comprehensive guide and amendment tracker for proposed changes to the Pennsylvania Constitution

“The Republican-led General Assembly continues to take extraordinary steps to dismantle abortion access and implement a radical agenda,” Wolf said in a Thursday statement announcing the lawsuit. “Frustrated that their legislation could once again face my veto, they instead loaded several unrelated constitutional amendments into a joint resolution and rammed the bill through the budget process.

Legislative Republicans pushed back, saying Wolf is so power-hungry that he is trying to deny voters the right to make decisions on important issues.

“This lawsuit is not only baseless, it undermines the ability of Pennsylvanians to have a say in how they are governed,” House GOP spokesman Jason Gottesman said. “Perhaps instead of a lame duck governor wasting taxpayers’ time and resources in court on a ridiculous legal maneuver, he should spend his final days in office working with, rather than against, the General Assembly to improve our elections, make Pennsylvania more competitive, and further insulate the Commonwealth from the recession induced by its Washington, DC allies.

Wolf is seeking an emergency High Court decision because the proposed constitutional amendments must be announced publicly – and his administration is expected to begin announcing the five changes on Tuesday August 2.

The legislature must approve proposed amendments to the state constitution in two consecutive two-year sessions before they appear on the ballot. Then the voters make the final decision.

The last five proposals will have to be approved again during the next session of the legislature, which begins in January. Voters could be asked to vote as early as the May 2023 elections.

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