Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bipartisan Reform Commission for PA House

A press release on legislative reform posted to PoliticsPA this past Friday:

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12, 2007 --- In his first official act as the newly elected Speaker, state Rep. Dennis O'Brien (R-169) today formed a bipartisan commission to study and recommend legislative reforms to the rules for operating the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The commission will be co-chaired by Reps. David Steil (R-Bucks) and Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery). The Democratic and Republican leaders each will recommend 12 members from their respective caucuses to serve on the panel.

"There is no doubt that I was elected by my colleagues because they recognize reform must begin with the head of the chamber," O'Brien said. "With more than 50 new representatives bringing an outsider's perspective and voters sending a clear message that business as usual is not acceptable, we have a unique opportunity to inject more openness and transparency into the legislative process."

The Speaker charged Steil and Shapiro to begin work next week and present recommendations within 45 days from Jan. 2, when temporary rules were adopted in the House. In accepting the assignment, Steil said: "Just a few days into a new legislative session and we're already seeing the House head in a new direction." Shapiro added: "Speaker O'Brien's election set the tone for bipartisanship, civility and openness, and this commission is the first major step toward that end."

Steil and Shapiro said they will use as the foundation for their final recommendations the work of the earlier Bipartisan Reform Task Force, and consider other past legislative reform initiatives introduced by House members. The Speaker's commission also will solicit input and suggestions from outside the General Assembly.

Speaker O'Brien named former Republican Majority Leader Robert J. Butera as special counsel to the commission. Butera served in the legislature in the 1970s, as House majority leader during the 1973-74 legislative session and minority leader from 1975 to 1977.

"I made clear from day one that reform would occur in a bipartisan manner, and I am pleased by the willingness of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this effort forward quickly," O'Brien concluded.

A few thoughts:

Both chairs are local boys.

Can you turn around in Harrisburg these days without tripping over Josh Shapiro?

They are on a short time frame -- they each pick committee members and make recommendations within 45 days. So, kids, if you have some thoughts on this, better start putting them down on paper so as soon as we see who is on the committee you can send them off pronto to the best person.

Do we hold the football for Lucy again or not?

Hope springs eternal ..... maybe this time ......

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