Contact legislators about procedure

Procedural rules in our Pennsylvania Legislature matter.

The first vote of the new session puts rules in place for the next two years. In many states, automatic calendar rules ensure bills are given a hearing and brought to a vote. But not in Pennsylvania.

Here, just one leader can shut down a vote on a popular bill that has strong bipartisan support.

One unfortunate result of this is that a full-time legislature (funded by the taxpayers) is less productive.

They end up enacting far fewer bills and getting less accomplished than even most part-time legislatures in other states can. Another result is that Pennsylvanians end up with a legislature that is consistently unresponsive to bills with strong public support.

This goes against the will of the people. That deprives us all of real representation.

A prime example of this was a bipartisan bill like last session’s House Bill 722.

Receiving overwhelming support from a majority of legislators (both Republicans and Democrats), it was supported by millions of Pennsylvania voters.

However, it was a blocked re­form. Why? Because one single legislator who happened to chair a hearing committee didn’t like it.

If you are tired of our legislators having their hands tied when they attempt to follow the will of the people, please contact our newly elected officials, Sen. Judy Ward and Rep. Jim Gregory.

Politely tell them that you support changes that ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee and that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor.

Ask them to talk with their colleagues about other ways to change the procedural rules to make our PA House more responsive to voters and to allow every PA representative the ability to move bills with bipartisan support to a final vote.

This would be a good first step in the new year to help end dysfunction in Harrisburg. If we don’t share our views with our legislators, we only have ourselves to blame when nothing changes.

George Dempsie