Mr. Speaker and members of the working group, thank you for allowing Commonwealth Foundation to provide brief comments on the importance of the house returning to work. My name is Elizabeth Stelle and I am the Director of Policy Analysis. We are Pennsylvania’s premier free market think tank, working with the legislature to advance policies that help all Pennsylvanians flourish.
We urge you to quickly return to session and get back to work. The people of Pennsylvania elected representatives to legislate, and they expect you to get to the business of legislating. The Pennsylvania House has a long and storied history, over 300 years of bipartisanship and compromises. Your desire for bipartisanship is commendable, but failing to convene a session and bring members together is fueling partisan divide. Instead of building bridges, the frustration is driving members apart. Total consensus is elusive, but there is an urgent need for leadership and a willingness to move forward. Voting, individually by each seated member present in the chamber, is how the House settles disagreements.
Refusing to hold a vote on rules is wasting time and resources on the disfunction in Harrisburg. The focus needs to return to the issues that actually affect Pennsylvanians, the things that will make their lives better. No rules means no justice for the victims of sexual abuse, no voter ID to protect the integrity of our elections, no regulatory reform, no relief for the tens of thousands of children trapped in failing school, no opportunity to make Pennsylvania a more attractive place to live and work.
The pursuit of this listening tour drowns out the voice of all Pennsylvanians eager to make their voice heard through the time-tried democratic process of representative government. If you want to hear what voters think, let their elected representatives vote. While we appreciate the invitation to be here today, we all know it is impossible to hear from every Pennsylvanian or every organization. The best way to hear from the people is to let the house operate. Get the house back to work.
Finally, I want to address another important way you can hear the voices of Pennsylvanians; allow a vote on SB 1. Critics are playing politics with this bill so commonwealth voters can not vote yes or no on important constitutional amendments. These policies have been approved by bipartisanship majorities in both chambers.
The election integrity and regulatory protection measures included in SB 1 passed the legislature in December 2021. Two weeks ago, the Pa. Senate once again approved these measures, while taking the necessary action to advance justice for victims by correcting the pervious administration’s error. A final vote in the chamber that you lead is the only thing standing in the way of Pennsylvania voters being able to make their voice heard on these three important matters.
Allowing a vote on SB 1 does not enact the underlying constitutional amendments. It clears the way for voters to decide.
It’s time to let these long considered, bipartisan, and popular measures come up for a final vote in the house.
It’s time to let the voters decide. And it is insulting to assume the voters of Pennsylvania cannot carefully consider these long-time issues on the ballot.
Let the people’s representatives work and let the people vote.