We’re retreating

No, we’re not quitting, despite all of the raging civil liberties fires out there. Actually, the ACLU-PA staff is on its annual staff retreat in a top secret mountain location, so we haven’t been very attentive to the blog this week. But here are a few quick news hits on some of the issues we’re tracking.

On Tuesday, the PA House Rules Committee amended the Anti-Voting Rights Act (HB 1318) to reinsert the disenfranchisement of ex-felons who would not have voting rights until the maximum sentence had passed, i.e. sentenced to 10-20 years, serve 10, no voting rights until 20 years pass. The committee also slashed the Senate’s expanded list of acceptable ID down to any ID issued by the Commonwealth or a voter registration card. Yesterday the House passed the bill with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. Election reform should be a bipartisan effort since both parties have an interest in the outcome. One can’t help but question the motivation when only one party is in favor of this in an election year. (And we would say the same thing if it were the Republicans getting screwed.)

In the ongoing game of legislative ping-pong, the bill goes back to the Senate for a second time.

Meanwhile, HB 698, the Continue the Execution of the Mentally Retarded Act, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and now awaits action on the House floor. An attempt to add pre-trial, judicial determination to the bill failed in committee by a vote of 13-15.

The Constitution is much safer when these guys are on vacation.

Andy in the HBG