Danielle Smith, Producer
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Pennsylvania advocacy groups will gather at the Capitol rotunda for a “Fix Harrisburg” press conference today to deliver a new performance report to state lawmakers, calling for changes to legislative rules and more progress.
A recent report by the group Fair Districts PA compared the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s first six months of 2023 to three neighboring states: New York, Maryland and Virginia, and found the new session is off to a very slow start.
Carol Kuniholm, chair of Fair Districts PA, said the report found Virginia passed more than 800 bills in less than two months. But as of June 30th, Pennsylvania only enacted three bills. 12 others passed in both chambers but had not been signed or sent on to Governor Josh Shapiro for his signature.
“We are watching the process, watching our state Legislature, and concerned that they haven’t really addressed the problems we call attention to in the past and hoping that they address those soon, so that the bipartisan solutions that Pennsylvanians are waiting for will finally get a vote,” Kuniholm explained.
Kuniholm emphasized the new report also showed during the session that members of both political parties signed on as co-sponsors of many bills affecting both rural and urban Pennsylvanians. However, many are still awaiting the initial votes to get them out of committee.
Kuniholm added only 7% or 8% of bills that are filed end up passing, and said the new report highlights ten different bipartisan solutions and support for those solutions from legislators in both parties. But in past sessions, sometimes they have passed unanimously in one chamber left to die in the other.
“There’s an almost tragic event not too long ago, where a child-care facility had carbon monoxide poisoning and staff and children ended up in the hospital,” she continued. “The bill to address that passed unanimously out of the Senate in the last session and went nowhere in the House. “
Kuniholm added the one bipartisan solution her organization is most concerned about is an independent citizen redistricting commission. She pointed out they have released polls showing more than 70% of Pennsylvanians approved, and garnering support from 110 cosponsors in 2018, it was blocked.