Some interesting things happened in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week, and it is a topic well worth discussing. While it won't be anything that you'll read in your local paper or see on the news, it is IMPORTANT STUFF . . . and like most IMPORTANT STUFF, it is often overlooked . . . but not by me.
Senate Bill 850 (the “2009/2010 State Budget”) passed the Pennsylvania State Senate on May 6, 2009. It was referred to the House Appropriations Committee on May 7, 2009. A month-and-a-half later, the status of SB850 has not changed. It is still under the control of the House Appropriations Committee, with no hope of seeing the light of day any time soon.
On May 4, 2009, Representative Dwight Evans (D) introduced House Bill 1416 (the “2009/2010 State Budget”). On that day, HB 1416 was also referred to the House Appropriations Committee. Again, a month-and-a-half later, the status of HB 1416 has not changed. It is also still under the control of the House Appropriations Committee, with no hope of seeing the light of day any time soon.
Our Legislators are SUPPOSED to be working to finalize the 2009-2010 budget in Harrisburg, but they have yet to get an opportunity to VOTE on a budget. Why? Because everything is currently being held up in the Appropriations Committee.
This week, responsible lawmakers in Harrisburg decided to do something about the problem. They implemented the use of House Rule 53, “Discharge of Committees”, by submitting two Discharge Resolutions (DR1 and DR2) on June 25, 2009. According to House Rule 53:
A member may present to the Chief Clerk a resolution in writing to discharge a committee from the consideration of a bill or resolution which has been referred to it 15 legislative days prior thereto (but only one motion may be presented for each bill or resolution). The discharge resolution shall be placed in the custody of the Chief Clerk, who shall arrange some convenient place for the signature of the members. A signature may be withdrawn by a member in writing at any time before the discharge resolution is entered in the Journal. When 25 members of the House shall have signed the resolution, it shall be entered in the Journal and the title of the bill or resolution and the name of the committee to be discharged shall be printed on the calendar.
Any member who has signed a discharge resolution which has been on the calendar at least one legislative day prior thereto and seeks recognition, shall be recognized for the purpose of calling up the discharge resolution and the House shall proceed to its consideration without intervening motion except one motion to adjourn; however, no discharge resolution shall be considered during the last six legislative days of any session of the House. A majority vote of all the members elected to the House shall be required to agree to a resolution to discharge a committee. When any perfected discharge resolution has been acted upon by the House and defeated it shall not be in order to entertain during the same session of the House any other discharge resolution from that committee of said measure, or from any other committee of any other bill or resolution substantially the same, relating in substance to or dealing with the same subject matter.
The Discharge Resolutions have been added to the House Calendar and will allow the Members of the House to ultimately determine whether SB850 or HB1416 will finally be discharged from the Appropriations Committee. DR 1 and DR 2 will be voted on, and if either or both receive a majority vote from the House, they will eventually be discharged (and released) from the Appropriations Committee so that they can finally move to the House floor for a vote.
It is a shame that these sorts of rules are necessary, but a budget will never reach the floor of the House for a vote if we are simply left to wait for the Appropriations Committee to do it on their own (seeing that they've had both HB850 and HB1416 for over 6 weeks with no results).
Who are the legislators that have signed onto these Discharge Resolutions? Well, each Discharge Resolution required 25 signatures. The names for both resolutions were the same with the exception of the last name on each. The Representatives that signed were:
Representative Mario Civera
Representative Sam Smith
Representative Mike Turzai**
Representative Merle Phillips
Representative Sandra Major*
Representative Jerry Stern**
Representative Stan Saylor**
Representative Matt Gabler*
Representative Donna Oberlander*
Representative Thomas Creighton**
Representative Daryl Metcalfe**
Representative David Millard
Representative Dan Moul**
Representative Tina Pickett*
Representative Scott Hutchison**
Representative Martin Causer
Representative Carl Metzgar*
Representative Julie Harhart
Representative Douglas Reichley
Representative Michele Brooks**
Representative Timothy Hennessey*
Representative Sheryl Delozier
Representative Kathy Rapp**
Representative Curt Schroder**
Representative Robert Godshall (DR 1 only)
Representative William Adolf (DR 2 only)
Fiscal Conservative Legislators:
* indicates that this Representative is included in my “List of Fiscal Conservative Legislators” as they have demonstrated fiscal responsibility on select issues in the past.
"PA Gov Watch Honor Roll" Legislators:
** indicates that this Representative is included in my “PA Gov Watch Honor Roll” (which is a subset of the “List of Fiscal Conservative Legislators”). This list includes legislators that have voted consistently with issues of fiscal responsibility. The list currently only includes 10 fine Legislators as listed below:
Representative Mike Turzai (R-28)
Representative Jerry Stern (R-80)
Representative Stan Saylor (R-94)
Representative Thomas Creighton (R-37)
Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-12)
Representative Dan Moul (R-91)
Representative Scott Hutchison (R-64)
Representative Michele Brooks (R-17)
Representative Kathy Rapp (R-65)
Representative Curt Schroder (R-155)
Where is the Mercer County Connection?
Those in Mercer County will be glad to know that Representative Michele Brooks (R-17th-Mercer, Crawford, Lawrence) is included in this list of responsible legislators that signed on to both Discharge Resolutions. It should also be noted that Representative Brooks is one of the only 10 legislators that is included on the “PA Gov Watch Honor Roll” as she has been on the side of “good government” with each of the issues that we have tracked to date.