Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pa. residents finally get a say on reform

Here's a switch. Pennsylvania lawmakers want to hear what Pennsylvania residents have to say.

This is a new concept for the nation's most overpaid, under-worked and secretive legislature.

Pennsylvania lawmakers didn't ask voters what they thought of bringing casino gambling to the state. (Most residents don't want it).

They didn't ask anyone about raising taxes or rubber-stamping billions of dollars of new spending under Gov. Ed Rendell. (While Rendell is a popular governor, his policies will bankrupt the state).

The lawmakers haven't been listening to constituents when it comes to property tax relief (Adopt the Commonwealth Caucus Plan to eliminate property taxes).

And the legislature certainly didn't consult anyone when it came time to vote itself a pay raise at 2 a.m. on July 7, 2005. (Ask the 55 legislators who no longer have jobs if they'd reconsider their vote to give themselves pay raises).

Maybe the political aristocracy in Harrisburg is finally getting the message.

A House panel studying the need for legislative reforms has set up an e-mail address where citizens can send their ideas for improving the lawmaking process, according to The Associated Press.

Here's your chance to tell the members of the Pennsylvania House of Lords that it's time to return government to the people.

The Speaker's Commission on Legislative Reform, a 24-member, bipartisan group of legislators, held its first meeting today and announced the e-mail address. The group will also hold hearings around the state.

"We want to make sure that we are sending a new signal" from the House, Rep. Josh Shapiro, D-Montgomery, one of two co-chairmen, told the AP.

Here's a few suggestions for ways to reform Harrisburg.

1) Convene a Constitutional Convention as soon as possible
2) Allow for voter Initiative, Referendum and Recall
3) Cut the size of the Legislature in half
4) Eliminate pensions for elected officials and all other lawmaker perks
5) Term limits on legislators, committee chairmen, legislative leaders
6) Redraw legislative districts to make them competitive
7) Real regulation of lobbyists and campaign finances
8) Eliminate legislative 'lame duck' sessions
9) Ban 'ghost voting' and all forms of 'proxy voting'
10) No more midnight votes; Do the people's business in the light of day

The e-mail address to send your suggestions is:

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