Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi released the following statement outlining multiple proposed changes to the House operating rules for the regular session beginning next week to work toward more bipartisan operation that better reflects the will of Pennsylvanians:
“Eight score years ago on the fields of Gettysburg, at a time when our nation was fractured to the point of nearly breaking, President Abraham Lincoln gave an address concluding with a call for a government ‘…of the People, by the People, for the People.’ While our problems in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives pale in comparison, we have experienced a decade of increasing partisan faction and erosion of democratic norms that, if left unchecked, will endanger the very foundation of our House.
“On January 3, 2023, I was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and I pledged to do things differently. Rather than seeking solutions for our eroding institution in the overly partisan world of Harrisburg politics, I decided to do something radical.
“I embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear directly from the people. From Pittsburgh to State College to Philadelphia to Wilkes-Barre, I heard from hundreds of everyday citizens and good government organizations such as Fix Harrisburg, Common Cause, and the Committee of 70, who shared a common concern that Harrisburg is plagued by an overabundance of partisan politics which impedes good governance and stops widely supported legislation from becoming law.
“Armed with the voices of Pennsylvanians from throughout the Commonwealth, I pledged to introduce a fair set of House Rules that would rein in hyper-partisanship and allow measures supported by a majority of the Members of the House, whether that be Democrats, Republicans, or a coalition of both, to pass legislation regardless of where legislative leaders are on the subject. For far too long in Harrisburg, leaders have been first above all others, rather than first among equals.
“While many politicians talk the talk about good governance, I intend to walk the walk. When the House returns to regular session next week, I plan to introduce the Rozzi Rules, rules that will fix many of the issues that have prevented a majority of the members from passing good legislation, will give a voice to the minority, and will address several other issues that were raised on our listening tour.
“Among the changes I will propose include:
- fixing the discharge process so that a committee chairman cannot hold legislation hostage from a majority of the House;
- fixing the special order of business process so that a leader cannot hold legislation hostage from a majority of the House;
- making committee composition more proportional between the parties than ever before;
- providing that constitutional amendments cannot be placed on the primary ballot where only a fraction of Pennsylvanians participate;
- providing that House-originated bills proposing a constitutional amendment can only include one subject;
- providing for increased protection against sexual harassment and discrimination in the House.
“I cannot thank enough everyone who took the time to reach out to me regarding their thoughts on how we can fix Harrisburg. While these changes may appear to be common sense, what they propose is a revolutionary return to a ‘government of the People, by the People, for the People.’ If you agree with the concepts that they propose, please do not hesitate to let your representative know that you support a different Harrisburg and that you support the Rozzi Rules.”
Thank you Speaker Rozzi for trying to reform some of the rules that prevented Harrisburg from voting on common sense legislation supported by both parties because a committee chair refused to even hold a vote.
I believe the rules outlined here are certainly a step in the right direction. Additionally, a rule is needed that says bipartisan supported legislation will be guaranteed discussion and vote in committee (and not be held up by the committee chairs). This will create real reform.
Thank you for standing firm and naming the issues that create obstacles to progress in our great state.
This is a false narrative. The suggestions I have heard are designed to make voting relatively easy and cheating hard. Common sense rules.
Amen, finally some common sense in Harrisburg that returns democracy to PA. Let’s get the work of the taxpayers done!
Kevin, I’ve heard that too and believe it, but the article above is not about elections, it’s about the rules by which the Pennsylvania legislature operates. In the past those rules have given almost total legislative power to just a handful of House and Senate leaders.
Absolutely Right! 100% Make Pennsylvania a real Democracy again!
Thank you Speaker Rozzi for your brave leadership and listening FINALLY to the people. Please do not give up your Speakership we need you!!!
GOP will oppose anything that tends to enhance democracy.
Gee Wiz Gulag, are you one of those overly partisan types Rozzi is referring to in his statement?