December Action! Reform the Rules

The House of Representatives was designed to be “the people’s house”: the most representative, accountable body, presenting the concerns of constituents and introducing legislation on their behalf. Our PA House has strayed far from that goal.

Procedural rules in our Pennsylvania Legislature matter. The first vote of the new session puts rules in place for the next two years. In many states, automatic calendar rules ensure bills are given a hearing and brought to a vote. In Pennsylvania, just one leader can shut down a vote on a popular bill with strong bipartisan support. That deprives us ALL of real representation.

The result is a full-time legislature that enacts far fewer bills than even most part-time legislatures and that is consistently unresponsive to bills with strong public support.

We are asking our legislators to support rules reforms that ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee, that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor and that bills move more quickly through the process, rather than be used as bargaining chips in the last few days of session.

We also encourage review of the committee structure: number of committees, committee schedules, committee chair selection, mechanisms for removal of committee chairs unable to moderate fairly.

These changes could be put into place through a reform package introduced on the first day of session or through a reform commission created to recommend reforms.

We expect real representation. #ReformtheRules

What to do

  1. Find your representative in the PA House
  2. Contact your representative
  3. Report back
  4. Write a letter to the editor

1. Find your representative

If you aren't sure who your representative is, go to the PA General Assembly locator tool to find them, then use the drop-down list in our Advocacy Record Keeping tool below.

If you've already contacted this legislator about changing the rules, please tell us how it went.

2. Contact your legislator

In-person visits make the biggest impression—but the more of us who speak up, the more your legislator will hear how important this issue is to their constituents. If you can’t visit, please call or send an email, or create a postcard.

Sample text:

My name is [Name] and I am a constituent of District [Number] from [City/Town]. I’m [calling/writing/visiting] today to ask you to support reform of House procedural rules.

When a bipartisan bill like last session’s House Bill 722 receives support from a majority of legislators and has strong public support, it’s inexcusable that one person, elected by one district, could effectively block reform supported by millions of Pennsylvania voters.

Please support changes that ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee and that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor.

I would also appreciate it if you would talk with your colleagues about other ways to change the procedural rules to make our PA House more responsive to voters and to allow every PA representative the ability to move bills with bipartisan support to a final vote.

Is there anything I as a constituent can do to help further progress on the issue?

Thank you for your time and support.

3. Report Back!

Once you’ve talked with your legislator, tell us how it went. It will help us be better informed for future conversations

report contact

4. Write a letter to the editor

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, or from the reform the rules session of our Reclaiming Our Democracy Town Hall. If your letter is published, please post it on your local Fair Districts PA Facebook page and tag the statewide Facebook page.

Get tips for writing letters

Other tools and info to help!

LWVPA legislature recommendation

Town Hall 2018 Session 3