Advocates: ‘Fix Harrisburg’ by ensuring bipartisan bills get full consideration


0

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Most Pennsylvanians think carbon monoxide detectors – which could have prevented a potential disaster at an Allentown childcare center – should be mandatory in schools and day care centers. 

“It costs $20 to buy a carbon monoxide detector,” said Carol Kuniholm, who leads an effort called Fix Harrisburg. “Why wouldn’t we require that?” 

Sure enough, state senators of both parties, who don’t always agree on a lot else, voted unanimously for a bill that would have implemented a requirement. 

Alas, the idea never became law. Why? 

“One [House] committee chair, elected by less than a half of a percent of Pennsylvanians, can say, ‘We’re not going to consider that bill,'” said Kuniholm, who is also chairperson of an organization called Fair Districts PA. “And the bill goes nowhere.” 

Fix Harrisburg is a joint venture between Fair Districts PA and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania

Kuniholm said similar situations are why other popular ideas – including requirements to test water in vulnerable communities for lead, to restrict “puppy mills” and to raise the minimum wage – have all failed despite bipartisan legislative support. 

And although people everywhere complain about lawmakers, and although Kuniholm concedes apples-to-apples comparisons among states are difficult, she said by several measures, Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is a particularly bad deal. 

During the last legislative session, according to Fix Harrisburg figures, 293 bills (or 7% of the 4,108 introduced) became law.

In West Virginia, a similar number of bills – 288 – became law. But West Virginia’s legislators work part time and earn $20,000 annually; Pennsylvania rank-and-file representatives and senators work full time and earn $95,000. 

New York legislators earn even more – $110,000 – but passed more than five times as many bills (1,536) as in Pennsylvania. 

Fix Harrisburg’s three main wishes? 

“A bill with demonstrated bipartisan support should get a vote in committee,” Kuniholm said. “A bill that comes out of committee with demonstrated bipartisan support should get a vote on the chamber floor. And for sure, a bill that comes out of one chamber with bipartisan support should be guaranteed a vote in the other chamber.” 

Spokespeople for leaders of both parties didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments about those ideas. 

Fix Harrisburg plans a rally on the capitol steps Tuesday at 11 a.m. Legislators in both chambers are due to take their oaths of office at noon.


Like it? Share with your friends!

0

What's Your Reaction?

hate hate
0
hate
confused confused
0
confused
fail fail
0
fail
fun fun
0
fun
geeky geeky
0
geeky
love love
0
love
lol lol
0
lol
omg omg
0
omg
win win
0
win
adminadmin

0 Comments

Leave a Reply