Ask Representative To Make Reforming Rules A Priority

December 17, 2018

Editor: Our Pennsylvania House of Representatives was designed to be “the people’s house,” the most representative, accountable body, presenting the concerns of constituents and introducing legislation on their behalf. Our Pennsylvania House has strayed far from that goal. Procedural rules in our Pennsylvania legislature matter. The first vote of the new session, which takes place on Jan. 1, 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. In Pennsylvania, just one leader can shut down a vote on a popular bill with strong bipartisan support. That deprives us all of real representation. The result is a full-time legislature that enacts far fewer bills than even most part-time legislatures and that is consistently unresponsive to bills with strong public support. Fair Districts Pennsylvania is asking our legislators to “reform the rules” and support rules reforms that ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee, that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor and that the bills move more quickly through the process, rather than being used as bargaining chips in the last few days of the session. Fair Districts Pennsylvania is also encouraging a review of the committee structure: number of committees, committee schedules, committee chair selection, and mechanisms for removal of committee chairs unable to moderate fairly. These changes could be put into place through a reform package introduced on the first day of the session or through a reform commission created to recommend reforms. Please contact your House representative and ask them to make reforming the rules a priority. Let them know that we want real representation. Denise Williams SHAVERTOWN

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