Speaker’s Listening Tour: Statewide Testimony in Favor of Rules Reform

Hundreds of Pennsylvanians from across the commonwealth participated in Speaker Mark Rozzi’s Listening Tour sessions from January 25 to February 2.

Scores of participants voiced support for changes in PA House rules that would make it easier for bipartisan legislation to advance toward final approval without experiencing the delays that have stalled worthwhile measures in the past. Hundreds showed up, with little advance notice, to show their interest and concern.

Speaker Rozzi organized the Listening Tour as part of the Speaker’s Workgroup to Move Pennsylvania Forward, a bipartisan effort to negotiate better legislative rules and address the long-standing need for a statutory window for victims of child sexual abuse. Members of the group include Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin), Rep. Morgan Cephas (D-Philadelphia), Rep. Jason Ortitay (R-Allegheny/Washington), Rep. Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh0, Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny), and Rep. Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery).

In Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, State College and Wilkes Barre, citizens described frustrations they’ve experienced in seeing bills blocked, despite support from legislators in both parties. Examples included bills to address childhood lead poisoning, rural firefighter and emergency service needs, gun safety, legislative gift ban and redistricting reform. Many speakers also shared their heartache at seeing the child sexual abuse constitutional amendment saddled with two other amendments addressing totally different issues.

Participants at the listening sessions were candid about the failings of the current legislative process. At the Pittsburgh hearing, Johnstown resident Shaun Dougherty stated:

“Speaker Rozzi, you have mentioned multiple times that Harrisburg is broken. I would argue with you that it is not broken—it is working exactly the way the recent legislature has set it up to work—for the lobbyists, for the special interests, and for the legislators. The legislators don’t have to take any positions on any bills because we don’t run any bills…Good legislation that can protect Pennsylvanians from one border to another never receives a vote.”

His full testimony is below.

Speakers at all four hearings recommended action

House in session February 21

The next PA House session day is now scheduled for February 21. The first order of business will be discussion and vote on House rules for 2023-2024. In a February 6 WITF interview, Speaker Rozzi said he and the Working Group heard “tons of great recommendations” at the Listening Tour sessions. According to that interview, he “plans to incorporate many of them” into the new rules.

Take Action

This may be the last opportunity to impact the rules for 2023-24. Contact your state representative and House leaders to demand rules that give bills with bipartisan support a vote.

Talking points & contact info

Links to read more:

Watch the Listening Session Videos:

The four listening sessions can be viewed in full, here

Short clips of various testifiers can be viewed on Fair Districts PA’s Facebook page