FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Frank Dermody
House Democrats renew commitment to good government
HARRISBURG, Jan. 17 Ė As Pennsylvania welcomes a new governor and ushers in a new legislative session, Democratic lawmakers in the state House of Representatives will continue pushing for a new era of good government in the three branches of state government.
House Democrats are preparing a "good government" package of more than 20 bills with the goal of building trust and accountability in offices under the governorís jurisdiction, the judicial system and both chambers of the legislature, ensuring that they operate more effectively and responsibly.
"The people of Pennsylvania have a right to expect efficiency and honesty from elected and appointed officials in state positions. House Democrats will work hard and offer specific legislation to see that these expectations are met," said Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny.
The legislative package will focus on four key goals:
Democratic Whip Mike Hanna, D-Clinton/Centre, said, "These are significant changes and it makes perfect sense to have this discussion at the beginning of a new administration when new individuals are taking the reins of numerous state agencies. The moment is ripe for passage of new laws to restore public confidence in government."
Dermody said that three bills in particular offer large potential to raise the quality of state government. One would direct the auditor general to conduct performance audits of every state program under the governorís control within two years.
Another bill would establish the Pennsylvania Government Accountability Portal, an Internet tool to let people review all state government spending. The House passed this bill unanimously in 2009 but the Senate did not act on it.
The other would create the Commission on Realignment and Restructuring of State Government, consisting of four people appointed by legislative leaders and 10 appointed by the governor, to evaluate state agency operations and identify opportunities for creating efficiencies, including potential privatization of some operations. The commissionís initial report would be due Dec. 31.
"Governor-elect Tom Corbett indicates he is serious about reform. We are poised to help in that effort with a number of ideas," Dermody said.
House Democratic Good Government Bills
Individual bill sponsors will offer greater detail on specific measures as those are introduced in coming days. The package will include legislation to:
∑ Establish the Pennsylvania Government Accountability Portal, an Internet tool to let citizens review all state government spending. (Rep. Mirabito)
∑ Improve the work of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission by establishing criteria for selecting a chairperson; ensuring public participation; and setting forth objective criteria to be used in the redistricting process itself. (Rep. DePasquale)
∑ Provide for public financing of Supreme Court elections. (Rep. Brendan Boyle)
∑ Give employees of the General Assembly the same whistleblower protections afforded to executive branch employees. (Rep. Gergely)
∑ Direct the auditor general to conduct performance audits of every state program under the control of the governor by February 2013. (Rep. Shapiro)
∑ Require cabinet secretaries and deputies and their families to divest from any ownership interest in industries that they regulate. (Rep. Briggs)
∑ Prohibit cabinet secretaries, deputies and other senior state employees from leasing vehicles privately or being assigned vehicles from the state fleet. (Rep. Briggs)
∑ Require public employees who file statements of financial interest to disclose if their spouse is a registered lobbyist. (Rep. DeLuca)
∑ Stop the revolving door between government and special interests by prohibiting employment with state-regulated or licensed entities for two years before and after serving as an executive-level state employee. (Rep. Sturla)
∑ Place limits on campaign contributions made by individuals, political action committees, political committees and political parties. (Rep. Josephs)
∑ Require candidates to file campaign finance reports more often and to file them electronically. (Rep. Josephs)
∑ Address the U.S. Supreme Courtís Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited corporate money in campaigns by requiring reporting of independent expenditures for certain political communications. (Rep. Briggs)
∑ Require the disclosure of campaign contributions by contractors. (Rep. DePasquale)
∑ Extend the House rule prohibiting the use of public resources for campaign purposes, including campaign polling, to all government agencies. (Rep. Briggs)
∑ Amend state law to institute a gift ban similar to the congressional gift ban. (Rep. Davis)
∑ Prohibit public officials from requiring staff to do non-work-related tasks or compelling contractors to provide a good or service for private benefit. (Rep. Gibbons)
∑ Require competitive sealed bidding for anyone subject to the Procurement Code, thus eliminating sole-source procurement. (Rep. Davidson)
∑ Prohibit former public officials from taking a job for one year after leaving state employment with a business or entity to which they awarded a state contract. (Rep. DeLissio)
∑ Establish a commission on state government realignment and reallocation for the purpose of streamlining government and saving taxpayer money. (Rep. Davidson)
∑ Prohibit the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government from hiring lobbyists to lobby each other. (Rep. Davis)
∑ Require annual ethics training for all elected members and staff of the General Assembly. (Rep. Brendan Boyle)