During the May primary election three questions related to amending the Pennsylvania Constitution will appear on the ballot. Two of these questions concern the state government’s handling of disaster emergencies, with major implications for checks and balances within the government. A third question seeks voters’ approval of a Constitutional amendment to prohibit restricting or denying an individual’s equal rights because of race or ethnicity. A fourth question related to strengthening fire and EMI services may also appear on the ballot. (If it appears, it would not be required to have had advanced Public Notice.)

I write this healthcare-related opinion piece to explore the implications of the proposed Disaster Emergency amendments, as they are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a health emergency of enormous proportions, as well as to new emergencies and disasters that are certain to arise in the future.

Jeanne Duffy, Ph.D., has served as a college professor, an analyst and project manager for several large companies, and a college administrator in charge of foundation and government support. She is current chair of Gettysburg Democracy for America’s healthcare taskforce.

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