After the packed ballot of the 2020 general election, voters, particularly in Philadelphia, will see fewer races in the upcoming May 18 primary. But Pennsylvania voters will see four ballot questions: three constitutional amendments and one statewide referendum, all of which could have a notable impact on the state. Philadelphia voters will also see a charter amendment question.

» READ MORE: Your guide to Pa.’s 2021 primary ballot questions

Questions 1 and 2: On limiting governor’s ability to issue a disaster declaration, vote NO

The first and second ballot questions are proposed constitutional amendments that would limit Pennsylvania’s governor from issuing a disaster declaration. The first allows the legislature to revoke a governor’s disaster declaration with a simple majority. The second limits disaster declarations to 21 days. An extension would require a legislature vote.

Under current Pennsylvania law, the governor can declare a disaster declaration for 90 days, which can be easily renewed, and only the governor can terminate it.

The disaster declarations amendments are not the result of a thoughtful analysis of the balance of power between the executive and legislature. They are political retribution and an escalation in Republican war against Governor Tom Wolf’s coronavirus response.

The purpose of disaster declarations is to provide a mechanism for government to respond quickly to emergent issues, recognizing that the legislative process is lengthy by design. In an ideal situation, disaster declarations would be rare and short. But that would require a responsive legislature that is willing to enact laws to ameliorate crises. For example, throughout spring and summer of 2020, when Pennsylvanians were suffering both from COVID-19 and the pandemic’s recession, Republican lawmakers were busy picking a fight with Gov. Wolf about school sports events instead of addressing the pressing needs of their constituents.

If Republicans want to limit emergency powers from the governor, let them first prove that they are capable of responding to a crisis from the legislature.

This board recommends that you vote NO on both questions.

» READ MORE: Philly Voter Guide: May 18, 2021

Question 3: Vote YES to prohibit discrimination on basis of race and ethnicity

There are protections against discrimination in the Pennsylvania constitution, but this amendment aims to make it as clear as possible by adding to article I of the Commonwealth’s constitution that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity.” This codifies an existing and important protection.

We recommend that you vote YES.

Question 4: Vote YES to allow fire departments and EMS companies to loan funds

The last question that Pennsylvania voters outside Philadelphia will see is a statewide referendum and not a constitutional amendment. If approved, the state loan program currently only available to volunteer fire departments and EMS companies will open to those with paid employees. The funds could help municipalities improve facilities and equipment to improve the response of their emergency services providers.

We recommend that you vote YES.

Question 5: Vote Yes for expanded License and Inspection Review Board

Philly voters will also see a proposed charter amendment to expand the Board of License Inspection Review, which hears appeals concerning licenses to carry firearms, property violation decisions, and decisions from some other Philly agencies. The board currently has a large backlog and the expansion aims to address this by adding more members.

We recommend that you vote YES.