East Falls Now Article: 116 and Counting

Let me start by saying, I thoroughly enjoy my position as State Representative. I am writing this article immediately after concluding my 116th town hall, my first town hall in person after two years of conducting town halls virtually.  This was actually our first hybrid town hall, so that as many constituents as possible could join according to their preference.

We reviewed four legislative initiatives: Charter School Reform and basic public education investments; the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); gun safety legislation that could help to curtail gun violence; and whether or not adult use cannabis (recreational marijuana) should be legalized.

It was great to be back in front of familiar and new faces and to have folks attend from their living rooms and kitchens. As always, I am truly energized to have dialogue and to gather the thoughts of folks with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

I must admit, I am a policy wonk at heart. Under my direction, my team does significant research on the topics we present because I am committed to presenting a well-rounded presentation and to offering constituents information and without party ‘spin.’ I hope that one lesson that is imparted is that the legislative process is what makes or breaks the opportunity for legislation to reach a Governor’s desk.

Constituents are, understandably, astonished at the power of majority committee chair’s ability to call up or block legislation that is referred to their committee, regardless of the amount of support a bill has garnered. This same seemingly omnipotent power is also wielded by the majority leader to add bills to the House voting schedule or or not. This is a legislative reality I am working hard to change.

I am truly energized to share my knowledge of bills introduced and their status and significance. I am also grateful to have interested and invested constituents who are willing to communicate their priorities. Today we heard a suggestion that Pennsylvania citizens should have an initiative and/or referendum process. I agree with my constituent; in fact a few months ago, I began to research this topic and look forward to introducing such an opportunity later this session.

The outline of idea is this:

The terms initiative and referendum refer to processes that allow citizens of states to vote on particular pieces of legislation.

The initiative process allows citizens to propose a new statute or constitutional amendment.

The referendum process allows citizens to refer a law that passed the legislature to the ballot for voters to decide whether to uphold or repeal the law.

In 26 states, a statewide initiative and/or referendum process is available to citizens.

I look forward to sharing my research at my 117th town hall, to be held on Thursday, May 19 at 7pm.  The meeting will be conducted virtually, and we hope to identify a location so that we can again conduct a hybrid meeting. 

There should be no doubt, seeing constituents in person and hanging out before and after the town hall is energizing. It is a great opportunity to share thoughts and information! I am consistently appalled at how many of my colleagues do not hold such forums. Perhaps we should consider an initiative whereby we mandate that elected officials must hold town halls on a regular basis. Just a thought! 

As I hope you can tell, I thoroughly enjoy being your state representative and please do continue to share your ideas and thoughts via email at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net or by contacting my office at 215-482-8726, or by stopping by our office at 4001 Main Street in Manayunk. The building has elevator access and there is plenty of on street parking.