Monday, January 31, 2011

Good Government Groups Decry Regressive PA House Rule Changes

Common Cause, Democracy Rising PA, Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, Keystone Progress tell House leadership “No Way!” on proposed rule changes.

Good government groups held a news conference decrying the proposed House rule changes which would restrict the ability of elected Representatives to do their jobs effectively. Under these new rules, the majority party would be able to control legislation in the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee would be allowed to restrict amendments from the minority party and would be able to table amendments without cause, effectively prohibiting amendments from ever being voted on.

Amendments are the main way in which rank and file members of both parties can present alternatives to legislation proposed by the majority party leadership. And they are also the main way in which the minority party can force the majority party to go on record on issues that they prefer to avoid.

The rule changes also cut back minority representation on each House Committee. The proposed changes will create committees of 15 Republicans and only 9 Democrats. With a more equitable balance, minority amendments can pass with a few supporters from the majority party. This unfair formula effectively means that proposals from the minority representatives have little chance of passage.

Pennsylvanians want real reform in Harrisburg, but these moves bring us back to the old days of back door deals. If these rule changes pass, it will erode our rights to fair and equal representation. This move is regressive and counter to the reform Pennsylvanians have been promised and expect.

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