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Group Continues Calls for Better Legislative Rules in PA

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Monday, February 6, 2023   

While the Pennsylvania House is still out of session and won't resume until late February, the public and advocacy groups are voicing their concerns.

A statewide listening tour was organized by state House Speaker Mark Rozzi - D-Berks - and his six-member workgroup, to hear from Pennsylvanian about ways to move the state forward on legislative rules.

Fair Districts PA Chair Carol Kuniholm said she spoke about the state Legislature not passing bipartisan solutions. Her group recommends that legislative leaders put rules in place that allow bills with clear bipartisan support to get a vote in committee.

"And then if they are voted out of one chamber with bipartisan support, they should be given a vote in the other chamber," said Kuniholm. "Because what we're seeing is only about one in five bills get considered in committee. Half the bills that get voted out of one chamber are ignored by the other chamber and only about 7% of bills introduced actually get passed."

Fair Districts PA's most recent report shows during the session, members of both political parties signed on as co-sponsors of many bills affecting both rural and urban Pennsylvanians.

Kuniholm added that, however, many of the bills never received votes to move out of committee.

Kuniholm said she and others spoke about bills to address the lack of funding and staffing for firefighters since the 1970s. She added that for two decades, there have been legislative solutions to address the lack of broadband access in rural communities.

She said her organization has been trying to get redistricting reform bills passed, but the leadership has blocked those - even though some have had more co-sponsors than any other bills in the chamber.

"Many people talked about the sexual-abuse statute limitations bill that has been bundled into a constitutional amendment," said Kuniholm. "There were firefighters who talked about the concern for remedies for firefighters, there were people who talked about school funding, and quite a few people talked about gun violence."

Kuniholm said they recommend that there would be a discharge petition, which means if a bill is stuck in committee and has a certain number of signatures, that bill would move directly to the House floor for a vote.

She said a proposal that they put forward is that every legislator would be able to have one priority bill that if they could get at least five co-sponsors from both parties, that bill would be guaranteed a vote.



Disclosure: Fair Districts PA contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civic Engagement, Community Issues and Volunteering. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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