Memorandum on House Rules Reform

The Fair Districts PA rules research team has spent much time in the past few weeks reviewing House Resolution 1, discussing the process leading up to the vote on March 1, and looking back at final statistics from the 2021-2022 session.

This is part of a letter sent to PA representatives, introducing the just completed Memorandum on House Rules Reform.

We have had much debate about some of the changes, the intent behind them and how the rules will impact the work of the session ahead. While we appreciate the broader conversation about House rules and the opportunity to share our thoughts in Listening Tour sessions, we remain concerned that the new rules provide little assurance that bipartisan bills will receive a vote. Will the new rules make it more possible for your own good solutions to finally make it into law? As we noted in our Dysfunction by Design report, only about 7% of all introduced bills ultimately make it to the governor’s desk. We’ve been aware of that statistic for several years, and also aware that about half the bills passed in one chamber were not given a final vote in the other. We were NOT aware that so many of the bills left on the table in one chamber had been passed unanimously in the other. A volunteer reviewing the recently concluded session shared this sobering chart:


24 of bills that were passed unanimously in one chamber but not in the other named roads or bridges, but initial review suggests that far more of those hundreds of bills addressed substantive issues: improving access to information, amending outdated statutes, providing grants to help farmers or small businesses meet unfunded mandates. Our initial sampling suggests that much good work done in one chamber is left on the table in the other, a colossal waste of time, effort and public funds.

Pennsylvania is struggling under the weight of distrust and division. Our teachers, our health care workers, our first responders, our farmers and our small business owners all need real solutions, not misinformation, accusation or more partisan politics. We need a legislative process that allows real collaboration, and final votes on carefully crafted solutions to the many complex problems confronting our cities, our towns, and our rural communities.

Download Memo on House Rules

How Rules Changed: HR1 marked-up