'It's Time to Fix Harrisburg': Campaign Calls for Legislative Reforms in PA
Thursday, March 31, 2022
A news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol Wednesday called for changes to procedural rules in Harrisburg.
Good-government groups have launched the Fix Harrisburg campaign, saying a select few leaders block bipartisan bills from ever receiving a vote despite broad support. In an average session, less than 7% of bills introduced in the General Assembly ever get a final vote.
Michael Pollack, executive director of March on Harrisburg, said he and other advocates have been trying for years to get a bipartisan law passed banning legislative gifts, but it has been stalled by some leaders in the General Assembly.
"We keep coming here for justice because, frankly, we don't know where else to go," Pollack explained. "We're going to keep fighting, and we're going to keep pushing until this is a democracy, until six gatekeepers don't determine every little thing about this building, until lobbyists can't walk in with big checks and buy their way out of trouble."
So far this session, no bills introduced by Democrats, the minority party in both chambers, have been given a vote on the House floor. The campaign calls for bills with strong bipartisan support to receive a vote in committee. If voted out of committee, they say they should receive a vote on the chamber floor.
Johanna Byrd, executive director of the National Association of Social Workers Pennsylvania chapter, said pandemic telehealth waivers are currently set to expire on June 30, which is a concern for providers. Byrd pointed out telehealth legislation passed the Senate but has been waiting for a House committee vote for months.
"If something has not been passed, then it will result in a disruption of services for literally millions of Pennsylvanians who have become accustomed to accessing treatment via telehealth and who no longer will have that as an option as it returns to its pre-pandemic state," Byrd stressed.
Other organizations with speakers at the rally include Fair Districts PA, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Education Voters of Pennsylvania, and Committee of Seventy.
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