Voters in Philadelphia approve four charter amendments

On May 21, 2019, voters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, voted in the city’s primary election for mayor, city council, and other city offices. Voters also approved four amendments to the city’s charter according to election night results with 94% of precincts reporting. The four amendments were all referred to the ballot by the city council.
Question 1 changed gender-specific references, such as councilman, to gender-neutral references, such as councilmember, in the city’s charter. It was approved by 68% of voters.
Question 2 added the Office of Immigrant Affairs to the city’s charter, making the office permanent rather than dependent on executive orders. In 2013, Mayor Michael Nutter created the office through an executive order, and his successor, Mayor James Kenney, also authorized the office. Question 2 was approved by 74% of voters.
Question 3 calls on the Pennsylvania State Legislature to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 by 2025 and requests the legislature to allow Philadelphia to increase the city’s minimum wage. It did not have a direct, legally binding effect on the city’s minimum wage. Since 2006, Pennsylvania has preempted local governments, such as cities, from setting their own minimum wage standards. Therefore, Philadelphia cannot increase its minimum wage for private employers unless the legislature repeals the preemption clause. Question 3 was approved by 81% of voters.
Question 4 created a new class of law enforcement officers, called public safety enforcement officers (PSEO), to assist the police department in regulating traffic and enforcing code provisions. PSEOs will not have the authority to carry firearms or to detain or arrest any person. The amendment was approved by 69% of voters.
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