State Rep. Jaret Gibbons



Gibbons introduces bills creating option to recall elected officials


HARRISBURG, June 1 – State Rep. Jaret Gibbons, D-Lawrence/Beaver/Butler, has introduced legislation that would empower voters to recall state, county and local elected officials.


The two-bill package is comprised of H.B. 1562, which would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to create the option of a recall, and H.B. 1559, which would establish the process for conducting a recall and prohibited practices.


"The constituents in my district have made it clear that they want the option to remove elected officials for crimes while in office or for failing to represent their interests in the community and Harrisburg," Gibbons said. "I’ve introduced this legislation after talking with local officials and reviewing the process in other states, and I believe this is a balanced and fair approach that protects the interests of the public."


Gibbons said judicial officers would be exempt from the recall.


"In Lawrence County, there was interest in removing the former treasurer charged with and convicted of improper acts in performing official duties," Gibbons said. "There has been similar interest in separate cases in central Pennsylvania, but current state law does not contain a recall provision. My legislation would ensure the opportunity to remove elected officials in those instances."


Gibbons said the recall process would begin with a court hearing to determine if there are grounds for a recall, including malfeasance or nonfeasance – bad acts in the performance of official duties, or failing to perform official duties – during an official's current or previous term in office. The grounds would not be limited to criminal activity. The legislation contains provisions to prevent abusing the recall process for political purposes and penalties for those who file in bad faith.


If the court finds that grounds exist for a recall, recall supporters would have 90 days to obtain signatures equaling 25 percent of the votes for that local office in the last election in order to put the recall question on the ballot. The signature requirement threshold would be reduced for a statewide office.


Gibbons said a recall election would be held at the next primary or general election.