One of the issues confronting the next Governor of Pennsylvania is whether there should be a Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. This idea has had received more attention and support recently. The proponents have ranged from those with particular issues of concern to those who simply want to modernize the Pennsylvania Constitution. The last Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention was in 1968.

If there is a convention, the issue of eminent domain could be one of the “hot button” issues. This was recognized recently in debate among PA Gubernatorial Candidates. During that debate, the candidates were asked whether they support a Constitutional Convention. Sen. Anthony Williams, a Philadelphia Democrat, expressed reservations saying that there is too much risk in opening up the constitution to issues. One of those issues, he said, is eminent domain.

Right now, Article I, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides, “nor shall private property be taken or applied to public use, without authority of law and without just compensation being first made or secured.” That is similar the US Constitution’s Fifth Amendment. Other states have different variations on the wording and concepts. It is an issue to watch.