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As Congress and presidential candidates trade accusations over immigration reform, advocates and experts urge caution in spreading misinformation; Alabama takes new action IVF policy following controversial court decision; and central states urge caution with wildfires brewing.

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Congress reaches a deal to avoid a partial government shutdown again. Arizona Republicans want to ensure Trump remains on their state ballot and Senate Democrats reintroduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

"Fix Harrisburg" reports slow start to PA legislative performance

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Tuesday, October 3, 2023   

Pennsylvania advocacy groups will gather at the Capitol rotunda for a "Fix Harrisburg" press conference today to deliver a new performance report to state lawmakers, calling for changes to legislative rules and more progress.

A recent report by the group Fair Districts PA compared the Pennsylvania General Assembly's first six months of 2023 to three neighboring states: New York, Maryland and Virginia, and found the new session is off to a very slow start.

Carol Kuniholm, chair of Fair Districts PA, said the report found Virginia passed more than 800 bills in less than two months. But as of June 30th, Pennsylvania only enacted three bills. 12 others passed in both chambers but had not been signed or sent on to Governor Josh Shapiro for his signature.

"We are watching the process, watching our state Legislature, and concerned that they haven't really addressed the problems we call attention to in the past and hoping that they address those soon, so that the bipartisan solutions that Pennsylvanians are waiting for will finally get a vote," Kuniholm explained.

Kuniholm emphasized the new report also showed during the session that members of both political parties signed on as co-sponsors of many bills affecting both rural and urban Pennsylvanians. However, many are still awaiting the initial votes to get them out of committee.

Kuniholm added only 7% or 8% of bills that are filed end up passing, and said the new report highlights ten different bipartisan solutions and support for those solutions from legislators in both parties. But in past sessions, sometimes they have passed unanimously in one chamber left to die in the other.

"There's an almost tragic event not too long ago, where a child-care facility had carbon monoxide poisoning and staff and children ended up in the hospital," she continued. "The bill to address that passed unanimously out of the Senate in the last session and went nowhere in the House. "

Kuniholm added the one bipartisan solution her organization is most concerned about is an independent citizen redistricting commission. She pointed out they have released polls showing more than 70% of Pennsylvanians approved, and garnering support from 110 cosponsors in 2018, it was blocked.


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House Bill passed with an overwhelming vote of 94-6, with three abstentions. Its companion, Senate Bill 159, passed unanimously with a vote of 34-0. (Chad Robertson/Adobe Stock)

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