Webster proposes House rules changes for a more transparent government

Freshman rep from Montgomery County seeks to put citizens ahead of special interests

HARRISBURG, Jan. 8 – State Rep. Joe Webster, D-Montgomery, introduced two proposals among a package of House rule improvements sponsored by Democrats.

Webster proposed a rule change that would guarantee a debate and an up-or-down committee vote for any bill with 20 co-sponsors from each party. Under his second plan, committees would have the same proportional representation as the House. For example, proportional representation would create an 11-to-nine majority in a 20-member committee.

“The people believe that their government is broken and think the special interests matter more than regular citizens, and we wanted to change that,” Webster said. “The Republican majority made it clear – they wanted the status quo, and if we refused to go along, they were prepared to make it even harder for the will of the people to ever become the law of the state.”

Other rules improvements House Democrats are pushing for include:

  • Preventing partisan committee chairs from blocking votes on popular bills;
  • Requiring bills with wide bipartisan support, including measures sponsored by more than 102 House members, to get an up-or-down vote by the full House;
  • Giving members the chance to get a priority bill debated in committee;
  • Ensuring that the makeup of House committees reflects the voters’ will;
  • Allowing committee members to vote to choose a chairperson on merit, instead of awarding positions by seniority alone;
  • Ending “middle-of-the-night” votes and giving citizens a full 24 hours to learn about changes to bills

“I’ll continue to push for improving the rules of the House to make sure even though the majority rules, every resident of Pennsylvania knows that their voice was at least heard and considered,” Webster said. “That’s the way our democracy is supposed to work, and it’s the only way we are going to restore the faith of people in their government.”