Let’s Ensure Effective, Efficient Representation

This article relates to the 2019 legislative session. For a summary of why procedural rules need to be fixed, click here.

On January 1 the PA House voted for a rules package without allowing time for discussion of proposed changes. Rep. Steve Samuelson offered a motion to postpone the vote to allow lawmakers time to read and assess the rules, but that proposal was quickly voted down.

At the time, Majority Leader Bryan Cutler suggested that the rules should be considered temporary, in that they can be changed at any time, and promised that as chair of the Rules Committee he would be open to proposals to study or change the rules.

Statements in the press since then suggest he did not read or understand the proposals Fair Districts PA supports. He and some of his colleagues have suggested we would like “every bill introduced to have a full hearing” or that we want to “bypass the issue-vetting system to allow some bills automatic House votes — without even the chance to make improvements through amendments.”

Neither suggestion is accurate. As we’ve said repeatedly, we believe bills with strong bipartisan support should have a guaranteed avenue to consideration and vote.

In the same op-ed he said ‘these ideas, which on their face seem like fair-minded concepts, were floated elsewhere too. For good reason they were rejected in all but five states because legislatures nationwide understand these proposals would further polarize things and allow the weaponization of hearings and floor votes.”

We would be interested in his research on this. Research we’ve seen suggests that rules to move bills with bipartisan support forward diminish polarization, speed the process and allow more efficient passage of bipartisan solutions.

In Colorado, fair agenda practices made it possible for two redistricting reform amendments introduced on April 18, 2018, to move to a joint committee hearing two weeks later and a final floor vote just two weeks after that. Reforms sought for years here in Pennsylvania, supported by more than 70 percent of the people of PA and shut down repeatedly by individual chair persons (dating back to 2007-8), moved through the Colorado Legislature in less than 30 days.

THAT’s what effective, efficient representation looks like.

Toward that end, the following resolutions were introduced today:

We urge support of these resolutions and ask Majority Leader Cutler to honor his promise to allow these proposals a vote.

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