Vot­ing will get un­fin­ished busi­ness done in Har­ris­burg

The Review - - NEWS - By state Rep. Pamela DeLis­sio State Rep. Pamela A. DeLis­sio rep­re­sents the 194th Leg­isla­tive District, which in­cludes Philadel­phia and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

The list of un­fin­ished busi­ness in Har­ris­burg is fairly ex­ten­sive. The amount of bills that were left sit­ting in com­mit­tee or on the cal­en­dar is un­ac­cept­able. Some of the most im­pact­ful leg­is­la­tion for cit­i­zens of this com­mon­wealth was sim­ply left un­done.

The leg­is­la­tion I re­fer to be­low, in many in­stances, has been pend­ing for five or more ses­sions. A ses­sion is a two-year pe­riod; 10 years is a long time to wait for some­thing good to hap­pen.

Bills that would im­prove how we vote in Penn­syl­va­nia never even made it out of com­mit­tee, let alone to the House floor for a full vote. Those bills in­clude early vot­ing, which is per­mit­ted in 37 states, plus the District of Columbia. The av­er­age pe­riod of time for early vot­ing is 22 days.

No-ex­cuse ab­sen­tee bal­lot leg­is­la­tion, same-day voter reg­is­tra­tion, op­tional vote by mail and youth pre­reg­is­tra­tion bills have all been in­tro­duced nu­mer­ous times to no avail.

Leg­is­la­tion for re­dis­trict­ing re­form that would have cre­ated an In­de­pen­dent Cit­i­zens Re­dis­trict­ing Com­mis­sion did get quite a bit of ac­tiv­ity this spring, but those ef­forts were ul­ti­mately un­der­mined by both Se­nate and House lead­er­ship — de­spite over­whelm­ing sup­port from rank and file mem­bers. The com­mis­sion would have en­sured that district bound­aries for state se­nate, state rep­re­sen­ta­tive and Congress were not drawn by those in elected of­fice.

Be­lieve it or not, LGBTQ nondis­crim­i­na­tion leg­is­la­tion is still not the law of the land.

This leg­is­la­tion would en­sure free­dom from dis­crim­i­na­tion in em­ploy­ment, hous­ing and pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity. There are many peo­ple in my per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life who are mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, and I am hor­ri­fied that they can be dis­crim­i­nated against solely due to their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity. You should be, too.

The leg­is­la­ture has de­clined to pass leg­is­la­tion that would ef­fec­tively ban gifts from be­ing be­stowed on elected of­fi­cials or, short of an out­right ban, lower the thresh­olds whereby such gifts would need to be dis­closed.

To state that firearm safety leg­is­la­tion is a hot-but­ton is­sue would be an un­der­state­ment. Ear­lier in the spring, I was en­cour­aged when the Penn­syl­va­nia House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee held pub­lic hear­ings for six days on gun safety and gun vi­o­lence. Leg­is­la­tion for poli­cies as straight­for­ward as re­port­ing a lost or stolen weapon or re­quir­ing child safety locks or universal back­ground checks went nowhere. The hear­ings were noth­ing more than lip ser­vice in re­sponse to the cit­i­zen out­cry for the then-lat­est mass shoot­ing.

Other leg­is­la­tion that took the ride to Dead-endville in­cluded: the merit se­lec­tion of judges, be­cause we think it is bet­ter for judges to take money from the lawyers who will try cases be­fore them; a sev­er­ance tax on Mar­cel­lus Shale gas, ap­par­ently be­cause our nat­u­ral re­sources should ben­e­fit the cor­po­ra­tions that are ex­tract­ing that gas and not the cit­i­zens of this com­mon­wealth; and a last ex­am­ple is that we be­lieve that nurse prac­ti­tion­ers in Penn­syl­va­nia should be at a dis­ad­van­tage to their coun­ter­parts through­out the coun­try as ev­i­denced by keep­ing them un­der the thumb of the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion in­stead of per­mit­ting them to prac­tice to their full scope and li­cense.

How do cit­i­zens get their money’s worth from the leg­is­la­ture? Nov. 6 sent a loud mes­sage when voter turnout crossed 50 per­cent. Un­less there is con­sis­tent and strong turnout, elected of­fi­cials at all lev­els of govern­ment will op­er­ate as if their ac­tions have no con­se­quences. Vot­ing sends that mes­sage. I worked hard this past ses­sion to help all of the ini­tia­tives above move for­ward but can­not do it alone. I need your as­sis­tance. Please con­tinue to pay at­ten­tion, be woke and con­tinue to vote. Cir­cle May 21, pri­mary elec­tion day on your cal­en­dar now.

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