Reform the Rules

The House of Representatives was designed to be “the people’s house”: the most representative, accountable body, presenting the concerns of constituents and introducing legislation on their behalf. Our PA House has strayed far from that goal.

Procedural rules in our Pennsylvania Legislature matter. The first vote of the new session puts rules in place for the next two years. In many states, automatic calendar rules ensure bills are given a hearing and brought to a vote. In Pennsylvania, just one leader can shut down a vote on a popular bill with strong bipartisan support. That deprives us ALL of real representation.

The result is a full-time legislature that enacts far fewer bills than even most part-time legislatures and that is consistently unresponsive to bills with strong public support.

We expect real representation. #ReformtheRules

Current status

We are asking our legislators to co-sponsor House Resolutions 11 to 20. HR 11 would create a committee to study the rules and recommend changes. HRs 12 to 20 would introduce reforms that would ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee, that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor, and that bills move more quickly through the process, rather than be used as bargaining chips in the last few days of session.

Resolution Sponsors Summary
HR 11 (DiGirolamo) ${hr11} Resolution to study Rules of the House
HR 12 (Samuelson) ${hr12} Bills co-sponsored by a majority of House Members move to the House floor
HR 13 (DeLissio) ${hr13} Allowing any legislation with 20 co-sponsors from each party to get a committee vote
HR 14 (Freeman) ${hr14} Ensuring the integrity of the Discharge Resolution Process
HR 15 (Shusterman) ${hr15} One vote for a priority bill
HR 16 (Webster) ${hr16} Bills with 20 co-sponsors from each party would be guaranteed an up/down vote in committee
HR 17 (Webster) ${hr17} Committees would have the same proportional representation as the House
HR 18 (Ullman) ${hr18} Allowing House Members to amend legislation that already received second consideration but was referred back to a committee
HR 19 (DeLissio) ${hr19} Mason's Manual definition of 'germane'
HR 20 (O'Mara) ${hr20} Waiting 24 hours when bills are amended

What to do

Contact your representative

In-person visits make the biggest impression—but the more of us who speak up, the more your legislator will hear how important this issue is to their constituents. If you can’t visit, please call or send an email, or create a postcard using the talking points below.

Write a letter to the editor

Use the sample text to write a letter to your hometown paper and feel free to add any further detail from the information at the top of the page, our experience with HB 722 and SB 22, or from the reform the rules session of our Reclaiming Our Democracy Town Hall. If your letter is published, please post it on your local Fair Districts PA Facebook page and tag the statewide Facebook page.

Talking points:

My name is [Name] and I am a constituent of District [Number] from [City/Town]. I’m [calling/writing/visiting] today to ask you to support reform of House procedural rules.

When a bipartisan bill like last session’s House Bill 722 receives support from a majority of legislators and has strong public support, it’s inexcusable that one person, elected by one district, could effectively block reform supported by millions of Pennsylvania voters.

Please co-sponsor House Resolution 11, to create a committee to study the rules and recommend changes, AND please also co-sponsor House Resolutions 12 to 20, changes that would ensure bills with bipartisan support are given a vote in committee and that bills reported favorably from committee are guaranteed debate and a vote on the House floor.

I would also appreciate it if you would talk with your colleagues about ways to work together to make our PA House more responsive to voters and to allow every PA representative the ability to move bills with bipartisan support to a final vote.

Is there anything I as a constituent can do to help further progress on the issue?

Thank you for your time and support.

More about rules reform!

LWVPA legislature recommendation

Town Hall 2018 Session 3

Rules Reform Background

Resolutions Introduced, January 25