PA legislators work for open, honest government

HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – A bipartisan group of legislators is fighting to put people first by changing the way the House of Representatives operates to make it more transparent and accountable to the people instead of the special interests.

Check out video of today's news conference here.

The legislators are offering several reforms to the House rules after they were not given an opportunity on opening day of the House's 2019-20 session to consider proposed changes to current rules that often prevent substantive debate on important issues, require lawmakers to vote on measures with little or no notice, sideline important legislation with so-called “poison pill” amendments to change the original intent, and allow widely popular legislation to languish in committee.

According to the lawmakers, people believe their government is broken and that special interests matter more than regular citizens. They said their plan would reassure Pennsylvanians that they have an opportunity to be heard and that the will of the people, not the demands of the special interests, become the laws of the state.

The proposed rules reforms the legislators are fighting for include:  

  • Ensuring votes are taken in committee on popular bills (Reps. Pam DeLissio, Joe Webster).
  • Giving citizens more time to offer input on House Rules by making the rules adopted on January 1st temporary for 75 days and creating a special committee to study, gather public comment and recommend changes to be voted on and approved by the full House for a vote. (Rep. Gene DiGirolamo).
  • Requiring bills with wide bipartisan support, including measures sponsored by more than 102 House Members – a majority large enough to pass the bill -- to get an up-or-down vote by the full House (Rep. Steve Samuelson).
  • Giving every member of the House a chance to get a priority bill debated in committee (Rep. Melissa Shusterman).
  • Ensuring the makeup of House committees reflects the makeup of the full House (Rep. Joe Webster). 
  • Giving legislators and the people a full 24 hours to learn about changes to bills before a vote is taken. (Rep. Jennifer O’Mara).
  • Requires a committee in possession of a bill that is the subject of a discharge resolution procedure to report the bill directly to the House floor for consideration without amending the bill or recommending it be re-committed to another committee (Rep. Robert Freeman).
  • Allowing lawmakers to make changes via amendment to any bill that passed the House, but was then amended in committee before a final vote (Rep. Wendy Ullman).
  • Making sure the definitions of parliamentary procedures used during debate are applied evenly and in a nonpartisan way (Rep. Pam DeLissio).

The legislators who first proposed the House rules reforms on Jan. 1 said they will continue working with their colleagues, House leaders and the people to improve the legislative process.