How I voted: September 21

HR 139 (Rep Shelby Labs - R)

This resolution extends the Governor’s proclamation declaring a disaster emergency in response to Hurricane Ida. This is necessary because the recent ballot measures proposed by Republicans (and passed narrowly by the electorate) drastically limited the Governor’s powers to declare and sustain any/all disaster emergencies. Now, my colleagues who created these ballot measures have found themselves in a precarious position: They can’t ensure their constituents who have lost homes and businesses to flooding will receive disaster relief unless this state of emergency is continued. They knew this all along, and now on the last day of the Governor’s Hurricane Ida emergency, legislators have to waste taxpayer money driving to and from Harrisburg, and staying in hotels, and eating meals at the taxpayer’s expense, so we can convene in a last-minute session to continue the state of emergency.

I voted YES because it’s the right thing to do. I just wish my colleagues would stop the kind of political gamesmanship that causes such a waste of taxpayer money and legislators’ time and energy.

HB 184 (Rep Dawn Keefer – R)

This bill creates a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of causing or aiding suicide when the individual dies by suicide, is under 18 years old, and has an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder.

I voted NO because this is part of an ongoing effort by the majority party to increase mandatory minimum sentencing across the board. Mandatory minimum sentencing has proven to not deter crime and cost taxpayers substantial amounts of money by increasing demand for privatized prisons. Instead, we need to focus on enforcement of existing laws because we can deter crime when criminals understand in advance they will get caught and punished. Additionally, there is no provision in this proposed law requiring proof that the accused had intention or knowledge of wrongdoing (a legal concept known as mens rea).