Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ghost Voting

It's tough to keep up with all the issues. It's easy to let one slide as the next one comes along. But, if you recall, we were all in a tizzy last January when the new PA House rules were adopted and they included wording that allowed legislators to be "in the Harrisburg area" and still vote (or give their proxy). I was trying to monitor the daily legislative emails I receive for it to check the actual wording. I didn't see it and have always felt that I wasn't being observant enough. It has bothered me. Those who keep up with the weekly legislative updates may remember a note some time back to the effect that bills may not be reported when they are passed but announced later.

So I am both relieved and upset that HR001 showed up in tonight's email, although it was adopted in late January. Maybe it was in an earlier email, too, maybe it didn't. Hard to say at this point. In any event, here is the relevant paragraph, rule 63:

A member who is either performing a legislative assignment in
2 the Harrisburg area in furtherance of duties of his office or on
3 behalf of the body of the House and to which the member was
4 appointed by the House or the appropriate officer of the House
5 may, upon request to and approval by the member's floor leader,
6 be granted Harrisburg Legislative Leave and be voted by or at
7 the direction of the member's floor leader. A specific reason
8 must be given by the member to the respective floor leader and
9 that floor leader must announce the granting of the Harrisburg
10 Legislative Leave. Harrisburg Legislative Leave shall last no
11 longer than the single legislative session day for which it was
12 requested and shall immediately expire with the return of the
13 member to the Hall of the House. No member will be granted
14 Harrisburg Legislative Leave for a session day, or a portion of
15 a session day, who does not personally vote on the day's initial
16 Master Roll Call. A member is not permitted to request
17 Harrisburg Legislative Leave if the member is the prime sponsor
18 of a bill scheduled to run during the time for which Leave is
19 requested or if the member has filed and intends to offer an
20 amendment during that time.

Interestingly, the rule right after that sets out the criteria for chronic absenteeism and the punishment, provided a set number of legislators will make the appropriate motions. I wonder how often, or if, that rule has ever been put into effect.

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