We are asking legislators and legislative leaders to enact a rules package to ensure that good bills with strong bipartisan support can get a vote.
We’ll be discussing many reforms that would make a big difference with legislators and providing more details as we move toward January 5.
In-person visits—even virtual visits—make the biggest impression. If you’d like help before planning a local advocacy visit, complete this form. Personal written communications are a close second, including emails, messages on web forms and handwritten letters. Write to share a little about yourself and your own reasons for concern. Find contact info and more ideas here.
Support procedural rules that provide a more transparent and collaborative process. A process that is responsive to bills with strong public support. Avoid rules that fuel partisan gridlock and destructive division.
- Good bills with broad support should have a chance to be given a vote.
- Legislators from all parts of the state and across the political spectrum should have a meaningful role in deciding what bills are enacted.
- Bills with strong bipartisan support should be given a vote in committee, and if voted out of committee they deserve a vote on the chamber floor.
- If bills pass in one chamber with bipartisan support, the other chamber should respect that work with a corresponding vote.
Practice what you want to say. Perhaps congratulate your legislator on their recent win and explain you have been watching their performance over the years. Say a little about your concern that important bills are not passed and mention the importance of rules reform.
Craft your talking points from the sample letter below.
Use the sample text to write a letter to your hometown paper and feel free to add any further detail from the information at the top of the page, our experience with HB 722 and SB 22 and LACRA, or from the reform the rules session of our Reclaiming Our Democracy Town Hall, and our Rules Reform Town Hall.
If your letter is published, please post it on your local Fair Districts PA Facebook page and tag the statewide Facebook page.
Can We Talk About Legislative Rules?
Every two years when a new legislative session is about to start, the House votes on procedural rules. These rules will govern the formation of committees, the scheduling of bills, selection of leadership, among other things. The procedural rules, it turns out, are a major reason voters’ needs are either addressed or ignored.
Many first-time legislators filled with a sense of purpose are dismayed to discover the loss of their ability to bring their issues before the full House is the result of the first vote they will make on their first day in office. It is almost as though they are doomed to fail.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Good government groups like Fair Districts PA are familiar with popular, widely-cosponsored bipartisan bills being killed committee, never receiving a Floor vote, even if they have passed the other legislative body. This is because the leader of a committee, who may themselves only represent one district, may hinder the legislative efforts of a majority of districts. They do this by controlling the votes of legislators in their committees.
Legislators need to stay focused on voters’ needs. They need to keep veto power in their own hands and not cede it to party leadership.