Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reformers: No Change in Legislative Attitude

Leading good government advocates say the state legislature has only given lip service to reform in the five years since its infamous pay raise vote.
It’s been five years since lawmakers voted to increase their own pay in the middle of the night.
The act was later repealed due to public outcry, but the salary hike cost many lawmakers their jobs during 2006 elections.
Tim Potts of Democracy Rising PA says for the most part, the legislative culture hasn’t changed over the past five years.
He points out both chambers waived transparency rules last week to rush budget votes through on short notice.

"Well we’ve said all along that rules are the junk food of governance. What we need are laws. And if they’re not willing to give us laws then we can have no faith that they’re willing to abide by their own rules."

Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital backs a number of reform efforts.

"Among the things people are looking at is reducing the size of the legislature, part-time legislators. Redistricting, campaign finance reform. But the important thing is to take the dialogue to the people and have a constitutional convention"

A House Democratic spokesman disagrees with the notion the General Assembly hasn’t instituted any reform measures. Brett Marcy points to a 2008 open records law as one example of good government legislation that has passed since the pay raise.

Both candidates for governor say they’d support a limited convention.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi recently came out in support of the idea.
House Majority Leader Todd Eachus’ spokesman says the top Democrat doesn’t have a stance on the matter.
A convention can’t take place unless the General Assembly passes a bill calling for one, and the governor signs it into law.

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