Legislating by Constitutional Amendment - (Bypassing the Governor's Veto)
The Governor's veto is a constitutional check on the power of the General Assembly. If the Governor vetos a bill, the General Assembly can override the veto and pass the bill with a two-thirds vote. The ability to override the veto is a constitutional check on the power of the Governor. This system of checks and balances is designed to prevent one branch of government from becoming too powerful and to require collaboration and compromise.
Recently, several amendments to the PA Constitution have been proposed in the General Assembly. Once an amendment is passed, it is very hard to reverse. This is why the process for passing an amendment in the General Assembly is designed to be slow and allow deliberation. A bill proposing an amendment has to follow the full path of a bill twice. It has to pass both the House and the Senate in two legislative separate sessions. This allows voters to elect a new group of legislators between the two votes.
Once an amendment passes in two sessions of the legislature, it goes directly to the ballot for final approval. The bill proposing the amendment does not go to the Governor for a signature, and therefore the Governor has no veto power over an amendment. See the Harrisburg 101 "explainer" on the left for more detail.
Because the "gatekeepers" in the General Assembly can pass their own bills quickly, they can pass an amendment at the end of one session, and again a few months later in the beginning of a new session, landing the amendment on the ballot in a municipal primary election. It is very hard to raise public awareness or allow for public comment with this short timeline, and even the engaged voters who turn out for primary elections often learn of the amendment for the first time when they see it on the ballot. Voters have the final say on PA Constitutional Amendments, and should be on the lookout for amendments to appear on the 2023 primary ballot.