PA Constitutional Ammendments, Public Notices

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF PENNSYLVANIA

The following is a true and correct copy of a joint resolution of the General
Assembly regarding an amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania
that was proposed in the General Assembly during the 2018 session. The
proposed amendment was agreed to by a majority of the members elected
to the Senate and the House of Representatives. Pursuant to Article XI,
Section 1 of the Constitution, the Secretary of the Commonwealth has
caused the proposed amendment to be published here. If this proposed
amendment is agreed to by a majority of the Senators and Representatives
elected to the General Assembly at the upcoming November 6, 2018 General
Election, the proposed amendment so approved will be published again
and then submitted to the voters of Pennsylvania for approval. If approved
by a majority of the voters voting on it, the corresponding amendment
becomes part of the Constitution. If the proposed amendment is approved,
the words UNDERLINED in the joint resolution will be added to the
Constitution.

Anyone who needs help reading this advertisement or needs the text
of the proposed amendment in an alternative format may call or write
the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections
and Legislation, Room 210 North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120,
1-877-868-3772, ra-BCEL@pa.gov.
Robert Torres, Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth
___ ___ ___ ___
Joint Resolution 2018-1
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, providing for rights of victims of crime.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania hereby resolves
as follows:Section 1. The following amendment to the Constitution of Pennsylvania is
proposed in accordance with Article XI:
That Article I be amended by adding a section to read:

§ 9.1. Rights of victims of crime.
(a) To secure for victims justice and due process throughout the criminal and
juvenile justice systems, a victim shall have the following rights,
as further provided and as defined by the General Assembly, which shall
be protected in a manner no less vigorous than the rights afforded to the
accused: to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety,
dignity and privacy; to have the safety of the victim and the victim’s
family considered in fixing the amount of bail and release conditions
for the accused; to reasonable and timely notice of and to be present at
all public proceedings involving the criminal or delinquent conduct;
to be notified of any pretrial disposition of the case; with the exception
of grand jury proceedings, to be heard in any proceeding where a right
of the victim is implicated, including, but not limited to, release, plea,
sentencing, disposition, parole and pardon; to be notified of all parole
procedures, to participate in the parole process, to provide information
to be considered before the parole of the offender, and to be notified of
the parole of the offender; to reasonable protection from the accused or
any person acting on behalf of the accused; to reasonable notice of any
release or escape of the accused; to refuse an interview, deposition or other
discovery request made by the accused or any person acting on behalf of
the accused; full and timely restitution from the person or entity convicted
for the unlawful conduct; full and timely restitution as determined by
the court in a juvenile delinquency proceeding; to the prompt return of
property when no longer needed as evidence; to proceedings free from
unreasonable delay and a prompt and final conclusion of the case and any
related postconviction proceedings; to confer with the attorney for the
government; and to be informed of all rights enumerated in this section.

(b) The victim or the attorney for the government upon request of the
victim may assert in any trial or appellate court, or before any other
authority, with jurisdiction over the case, and have enforced, the rights
enumerated in this section and any other right afforded to the victim
by law. This section does not grant the victim party status or create any
cause of action for compensation or damages against the Commonwealth
or any political subdivision, nor any officer, employee or agent of the
Commonwealth or any political subdivision, or any officer or employee
of the court.

(c) As used in this section and as further defined by the General
Assembly, the term “victim” includes any person against whom the
criminal offense or delinquent act is committed or who is directly
harmed by the commission of the offense or act. The term “victim”
does not include the accused or a person whom the court finds would
not act in the best interests of a deceased, incompetent, minor or
incapacitated victim.

Section 2. (a) Upon the first passage by the General Assembly of this
proposed constitutional amendment, the Secretary of the Commonwealth
shall proceed immediately to comply with the advertising requirements
of section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall
transmit the required advertisements to two newspapers in every county
in which such newspapers are published in sufficient time after passage
of this proposed constitutional amendment.
(b) Upon the second passage by the General Assembly of this proposed
constitutional amendment, the Secretary of the Commonwealth shall
proceed immediately to comply with the advertising requirements of
section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and shall transmit
the required advertisements to two newspapers in every county in which
such newspapers are published in sufficient time after passage of this
proposed constitutional amendment. The Secretary of the Commonwealth
shall submit this proposed constitutional amendment to the qualified
electors of this Commonwealth at the first primary, general or municipal
election which meets the requirements of and is in conformance with
section 1 of Article XI of the Constitution of Pennsylvania and which
occurs at least three months after the proposed constitutional amendment
is passed by the General Assembly.

Candidate Legal Issues

Controversy at the Fayette County Fair

The state Republican party has asked the Fayette County Elections Bureau and possibly the county district attorney to investigate alleged tactics used to register Democrats during the county fair last week.

In a statement, the party claimed that “Democrats are promising prizes such as Steelers gear and a trip to the Nemacolin resort as inducements to register to vote … or change party affiliation to Democrat.”

The state GOP party maintains such enticements could violate the law by intentionally giving or promising “money or goods to an individual as an inducement” to register or change affiliation.

The political war began.

About a week later, the county Democratic Committee is asking, via a letter, for an investigation involving the county Republican party and others.

“It is our understanding that the former chairman and current committee member of the Fayette County Republican Party, David Show, was selling illegal raffle tickets in violation of the local option small game of chance act and, perhaps, the election code,” states the Democrat letter, signed by county Democrat Party Chairman George Rattay.

“Based on the information available to us, those tickets were sold at various times and places, including the Fayette County Republican Party and its affiliated booths during our local Fayette County Fair,” it added.

Rattay said Thursday that copies of the letters were sent to the county bureau of elections, the county district attorney, the media and others.

An organization selling tickets must obtain a valid small games of chance license and must meet other requirements, according to the Democrat letter.

Neither the Mountain View Rod & Gun Club nor Fayette Friends of Second –– the two groups apparently conducting the raffle –– has a license, the Democrats charged.

“Political parties are not eligible organizations for small games of chance licenses, and all funds raised from small games of chance must generally be used for recognized public purposes,” the letter added.

The letter makes other allegations and claims.

“We are also concerned that any violations committed for the benefit of the Fayette County Republican Party or the candidates it supports may constitute fraudulent conduct or a violation of the campaign finance requirements of the election code,” the Democrat letter stated.

Show denied the tickets had anything to do with the Republican Party.

“It had nothing to do with the election part at all,” he said.

He explained the tickets were sold in a booth separate from the GOP booth and did not involve his party. The tickets further did not display the GOP name, Show said.

“It’s just an attempt to divert from the fact they violated the election rules,” Show said, referring to the Democrat sign at the fair.

Recently, Two members of Fayette County’s elections board bowed out on Monday from hearing complaints filed by Republicans and Democrats over matters at the county fair, citing potential conflicts of interest.

Vince Vicites, a member of the county Democrat executive committee, and Dave Lohr, a member of local and state Republican groups, recused themselves.

Solicitor Sheryl Heid will file a petition asking county President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. to name replacements for Vicites and Lohr, both also county commissioners. A hearing on the allegations will be held later.

The third member of the elections board, Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, said she planned to stay on and hear the complaints at a later time.

“I do not believe I can appropriately participate in any decision on the merits of the complaints filed by the Republican and Democratic parties because of my position as an executive committee member of the Fayette County Democratic Party,” Vicites said, reading from a prepared statement.

“As a member of the executive committee, my impartiality could be questioned,” he added.

Lohr said he “believed it would be a conflict of interest” if he heard the complaints.

Last week, Show denied the party was involved and said Democrats were retaliating for the earlier GOP claims.

Ronald Hicks, an attorney representing the state Republican party, said he had photos showing Vicites and former state Rep. Tim Mahoney standing near the Democrat sign and booth on July 29.

He further asked county officials to determine how many people registered to vote as Democrats in the booth during the fair.

In his statement, Vicites said he had nothing to do with the Democrat sign. When the executive committee decided to erect the sign, Vicites said, he was attending a county commissioners’ meeting.

“At the fair, I did not participate in promoting or handling the raffle,” he added.

Of the photos of him near the booth, Vicites said later, “I took a multitude of pictures that night, and it was outside the booth, not inside the booth.”

At the start of the session, before Vicites and Lohr recused themselves, Rattay said the Democrat party’s attorney could not be present at the session. As a result, Rattay said, he would not be answering questions.

Polling Place Information

Thoughts on the Bullskin Township District #1 Polling Place Conundrum

In the wake of school safety in recent months, security in area schools have been paramount. In the Connellsville Area School District, resdidents, employees, administration and colleagues of the School District, specifically those involved with the Bullskin Township Elementary School, where voting in the District #1 takes place. It is the last school building in that district that is used for voting purposes. I can remember other district schools, in fact many of them in the city, such as the now-closed Zachariah Connell, South Side and Dunbar Borough schools and the old Industrial Arts Building (now razed) at the former Junior High West Campus in Trotter being used as voting facilities. In the 1990s, the school district carved out the school schedule for all schools to be closed on election day. About ten years ago, there was another article in the Uniontown Herald Standard that brought this issue to light, as did the Daily-Courier when it was under the leadership of its former owner. Connellsville Area School Directors said then like they say now that they wanted to stray away from schools being used as election precincts. At that time three of the district facilities were used for that purpose, Dunbar Borough Elementary and Zachariah Connell Elementary (now closed), and Bullskin Township Elementary School, thus being the lone contender.

Things have changed in the recent decade, before Dunbar Borough Closed, precincts were consolidated from four to two in Dunbar Township as the Dunbar Borough School was not conducive to voting, and the location was moved to the nearby airport at its modern terminal and consolidated with the one at Monarch Fire Department, as it too had issues. The other two precincts were separate, but essentially held in the same room, but divided by a volleyball net. One precinct was at the razed Industrial Arts Building in Trotter and the other in a residential garage in the Dickerson Run Area, as a result of the southern two being inefficient, the other two were consolidated, thus having the current two voting districts in place for the township.

A petition has been signed by not only the constituents of District #1, but also of concerned parents and guardians of the Elementary School. The school, built in 1956, has been renovated in 1998, and it confuses me as to why the facility wasn’t reconfigured for these purposes, maybe it was because the school board set the calendar each term to have those days off for voting, now that is not the case. Configuring schools for voting has happened in many area districts, like Norwin in Westmoreland County for example, where a separate entrance has been made tot he all purpose room along with separate restrooms for poll workers and others. With Bullskin in its current design you can not simply do that. While a separate entrance is provided for the election precinct, there are not accessible restrooms for poll workers. While many say put a portable toilet outside, that is simply the only issue. With the mandates of the State Government as a result of the Penn State Scandal, security at all schools across the commonwealth have been more restricted, including but not limited to ID Scanning, bag searches, etc. This could hinder the elections process and make it unique in our county as it, if the school would continue to be used, would extremely restrict the elections process in Bullskin First District.

However, moving this precinct (Bullskin #1) is a challenge for the Election Bureau as it is holds the second-highest amount of voters for the county, around 2,000. To further hamper the situation, there are limited facilities in District One where elections can be held. Several places have been checked out. One was the township building,  and it was decided by the township supervisors as being too small and not having the parking necessary. Another location was the new Masonic Hall, but it was stated that there is a group that meets there the first Tuesday of the month, and they were not willing to change. The Mount Olive Evangelical Church Fellowship hall was another consideration, however, it too wasn’t conducive. The Pleasant Valley Country Club was also another consideration, however it was mulled, due to it being under renovation currently. The election bureau stated it has to be in District 1, but as Bullskin Township is a rural township, the places are limited. Personally, I can think of a few more churches and such in the township, but many of them do not meet ADA requirements, nor do they have enough parking to hold the influx of voters, poll and campaign workers.  So my question is my followers, what do we do, the township, election bureau and school district are all searching to find a polling place before the next election in November. The election bureau would need to have another meeting to set a place in mid-September, but that is only three weeks away.

If you recall, we just had this scenario in the same municipality earlier this year, but in District #2, where voting took place at the Bullskin Township Central Fire Station. Fire Company Officials stated that it could no longer be held there, so other option were explored where it was narrowed down to either the grange building at the Fairgrounds in Wooddale or the Wooddale Bible Brethren Church, where a new gymnasium was constructed. It was decided in the nick of time that the church would be a more viable option. When the elections took place during the primary election, it was stated on the church’s Facebook Page that the their youth fellowship could not meet there as they planned to meet outside that night as they could not use the church. It rained , therefore they had to cancel the meeting. This being said, do you think the fairgrounds would have been a viable option to combine districts one and two. There is plenty of parking , the grounds are accessible to those with disabilities and there are comfort facilities.

In closing, let’s hope that the Election Bureau, Township Government, and  School Leaders can make a healthy compromise for all parties involved in this delicate process