PA House GOP Rules Change: Abuse of Power, or Avoiding Obstruction?

The Capitol Building sounded more like the British House of Commons today, as Republicans instituted changes to the rules of debate in the PA General Assembly.

In summary, Republicans are now able to send amendments back to committee without tabling the associated bill. Additionally, Democrats have lost a seat on each House committees.

Democrats charge that Republicans are deliberately stifling debate. Republicans say they are simply trying to prevent obstructionism.

As you might have guessed, it depends on who you ask.

Abuse of Power?

Democratic Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny)

“It’s an amazing, egregious abuse of power,” said Bill Patton, spokesman for Democratic Minority Leader Frank Dermody. He says the House unanimously adopted a rule in 2007 that required all amendments to be heard, or their associated bills would also be put aside.

“Mike Turzai is proposing to take us back to the days of John Perzel, when the majority party was able to table amendments without stopping the bills that those amendments were attached to.”

“That’s coming from a group of people that passed a blank bill out of committee which became Act 44, tolling I-80. That’s coming from a group just decided you can amend a bill on third consideration,” said House Republican Spokesman Stephen Miskin.

“To do this right at the beginning of session shows that the intention was not to try to work together and pass good legislation. The motive was to create a circus and stop everything. [Dermordy] brought his entire caucus into the Rules Committee for one reason and one reason only: to create a media spectacle.”

Obstructionism?

GOP Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny)

“This was purely and simply trying to stop obstructionism from the get-go,” said Miskin. “We purposely worked in a bipartisan manner with them in selecting the bills. These were bills that passed the chamber last year unanimously. They passed committee unanimously. And last night between 12:50am and 2am, 29 amendments were put up on the system, mainly leader amendments. When you have leader amendments like that, it’s usually to muck up the system.”

“If they were going to do that on these bills, what would happen on other issues – on more philosophical differences?”

Patton disputed the accusation that Democrats’ 43 amendments were an effort to delay legislation.

“It was not at all an effort to bog down the process. Every one of those amendments was seriously thought out. And there were already discussions with Republicans to withdraw some amendments in favor of others. That’s what legislators do. It’s their job to look at bills and seek ways to make those bills better. The amendment process is the tool that we have to make legislation better.”

Below is a video from the PA House Democrats of today’s Rules Committee Meeting.

January 26th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 3 Comments

3 thoughts on “PA House GOP Rules Change: Abuse of Power, or Avoiding Obstruction?”

  1. Jasmina says:

    The classic part, well actaluly there are many, but one that just jumps out and steps on my throat is the favorable light Democrats put on the fact that your children can stay on your health care plan until they are 26!!!!Wait a freaking minute?!?.. Your telling me that we are now to encourage a whole new generation of IMMATURE FREELOADERS? 26, you’re kidding right.? By 26 most of my friend had either graduated from college, found their own jobs with their own health care and started their own adult life hood! I had already served 4 years in the Army and started my first business by 26! So let me recap, the Democrats are painting a picture that we should be ok with our kids being on our health care plan until 26 ..NEGATIVE! I for one will still be encouraging hard work and moving forward with my boys not PERPETUAL ADOLESCENCE!

  2. Marty Gutekunst says:

    Can someone give a summary of the rule changes so we can decide whether it is a true abise or just a lot of hor air … on both sides. I see little in the way of acts, just posturing …

    Where are the facts?

  3. Mike says:

    Do you do what the Democrats asked and that is read the ammendments and determine for yourself if the ammendments appeared not serious?

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