Policy Hearings Fill Pennsylvania’s Legislative Void | Pennsylvania

(The Center Square) – Notwithstanding the gaping hole in the General Assembly calendar, lawmakers continue to turn to political sessions this week to vent their unrest.

After a House Republican policy committee hearing on Monday over school funding concerns, lawmakers cited their frustration with stalled legislative action and their peers across the aisle.

“It’s about time,” said committee chair Joshua Kail, R-Beaver. “The Republicans in the House of Representatives are here. We are ready to work and we were ready to work and we continue to be ready to work.”

Kail rose to chairman earlier this month and promptly called two hearings to discuss three proposed constitutional amendments and ways to expand the state’s manufacturing sector.

The former came just days before House Speaker Mark Rozzi adjourned D-Temple for more than a month, ditching any hope the changes would make it into the May primary.

It was just the latest twist in an unprecedented mental breakdown the impartiality of the operating rules that have prevented the House of Representatives from introducing bills, calling hearings and scheduling votes since Inauguration Day on Jan. 3.

Republicans hold on to a functional one-seat majority until special elections scheduled for February 7 are likely to tip the scales back in Democrats’ favor — giving them control of the legislative calendar for the first time in more than a decade.

It’s dynamic new legislation that sources say Republicans can’t handle. During an interview with NBC Philadelphia Over the weekend, Democratic House Speaker Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, said the party lacked “a willingness to work” and a “ability to compromise.”

“We haven’t seen that before,” she says. “Our door remains open. We want to work together on rules in a mature and productive way, but since that didn’t happen, the speaker had to make some decisions himself to move the institution forward for all Pennsylvanians.”

Earlier this month, Rozzi said he wasn’t ready to call a meeting until Republicans agreed to pass an amendment that gives adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse a two-year retroactive window to sue their abusers in civil courts. Senate Republicans wrapped the amendment into a resolution with two others — voter ID and regulatory reform — that Democrats oppose.

Unwilling to unbundle the amendments – and unable to do so without operating rules – the chamber stalled last week as both sides seemed initially defeated.

“The Democrats’ willingness to demonstrate their inaction shows they only care about power,” Kail said Monday. “From education reform to proposed constitutional changes, we must act quickly to enact measures that people have been desperate for us to get across the finish line.”

Meanwhile, Kail has scheduled four more hearings through February 21 on rising energy costs, good government reforms, human resource development and public safety.

“We can’t move forward on any of these issues until we organize as a House and Democrats get back to work,” Kail said during a subsequent news conference hearing on Monday. “Until then we’ll stay here [and] we will keep working.”

Alongside Kail, House Education Committee Chairman Jesse Topper, R-Bedford, said despite the impasse he and other Republicans were “getting started.”

“What we can do is control what we can control, and that means informing ourselves and informing the public about what drives our intentions,” he said.

Halfway across the state, the House Democratic Policy Committee began a series of hearings focused on health care in Allegheny County last week staff Challenges and wage theft by willful misclassification of employees. two more hearings are scheduled in Pittsburgh this week on electoral reform and union organizing.

This is in addition to Rozzi’s ongoing audio tour seeking public input on how to break through the Harrisburg gridlock.

“I hope by the end of this tour we will have a clear vision of how best to bridge the divisions in Harrisburg, what fair house rules should include, and a plan to finally get survivors of childhood sexual assault justice.” and truth they so desperately deserve,” he said.