Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The rules will dictate how laws are debated and passed this year. Last session's guidelines prohibited the chamber from working past 11 PM. Majority Leader Todd Eachus says some lawmakers took advantage of that rule, and he wants to ensure that business started after ten o'clock can proceed if three-quarters of lawmakers vote to keep going. He says the hard 11 o'clock curfew let some lawmakers filibuster bills. He says that, “really hampered the ability to get legislative business done in an orderly fashion. That was never the intent of the rule.” Even before the rules are debated some good government activists are taking issue. Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA says there's no reason for the House to be in session that late, pointing to the 2005 legislative pay raise as an example of questionable rules passed after midnight. “That is no way to do the people's business, and it's no way for people to see what's going on. How many people are going to stay up all night to watch the legislature on PCN?” Potts says legislative sessions could start earlier in the day if lawmakers want to finish before 11. He also suggests limiting the time allotted for speeches and trimming the number of bills that lawmakers introduce each day.