AARP is serving as a watchdog for specific Pennsylvania legislation that could impact the Commonwealth’s older population.
A much debated bill that would require voters to show a government-issued photo ID before they could cast a ballot will experience changes to extend the list of acceptable IDs.
House Bill 934 passed the Pennsylvania State House in June, sending it to the Senate for action. While the amendment attempts to increase the affordability of obtaining photo identification in order to vote, AARP believes this legislation imposes burdensome requirements that create potential barriers for voters wishing to exercise their right to vote.
HB 934 would add another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the voting process and would be likely to disenfranchise the elderly, economically disadvantaged, and minority populations of Pennsylvania.
The cost to implement this legislation is likely to be considerable. Other states that have enacted photo ID legislation for voting have encountered significant costs. Missouri estimated the cost of its voter ID legislation at $6 million in the first year of implementation. Indiana anticipated spending roughly $2.2 million on similar provisions. Minnesota previously estimated the cost of voter IDs to be $500 thousand per election, before outreach and education efforts. In addition, Pennsylvania must also budget for likely legal challenges. At a time of budget shortfalls forcing reductions in many programs in Pennsylvania, the costs of this legislation are unaffordable to the Commonwealth.
Currently, nearly one in five citizens over 65 lacks a current, government-issued photo ID. Even if the state works to provide free identification cards, we would be adding another unnecessary layer of bureaucracy to the voting process that will disenfranchise many in our state’s elderly, economically disadvantaged and individuals from diverse communities.
HB 934 is an expensive voter suppression bill that would make it harder for older citizens, students, people with disabilities, minorities, and lower-income people to vote.
AARP is urging Pennsylvanians to call 1-800-515-8134 and urge your State Senator to oppose House Bill 934.
Other bills of interest to the quality of life for older Pennsylvanians are:
- HB1907 - Restricts punitive damage awards in nursing homes and other long term care facilities; AARP opposes this legislation.
- HB 1294 - allows automatic utility rate increases for infrastructure improvements; AARP strongly opposed the House version of this legislation. The version approved by the Senate addresses many concerns raised by AARP and other opponents.
- HB 1720 - Brings PA into line with 30 other states regarding initial jurisdiction over guardianship cases; AARP strongly supports.
- SB 119 - Creates pilot program helping families where children are being raised by grandparents or other older relative; AARP supports.
This legislative watch provides our members with up-to-date information on current bills of interest that are under consideration by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The bill hyperlinks provide bill text, history and committee information.
What You Can Do
Contact your state senators at 1-800-515-8134 and ask them to pass HB 1720 and SB 119, and reject HB 934 and HB1907 when they reach the floor for a vote.