Re-Making the Rules

The Republicans are trying to legislate rules that promote Republican opportunity and exclude Democratic voters from the process.

Re-Making the Rules

The Republican Party in Pennsylvania is on the march.  With fearful perseverance they are grabbing territory in every direction.  They are grabbing your rights, and your treasure, while taking public positions that imply they are protecting you from tyranny.  Here are a few examples:

After the R's created their Photo ID requirement, thousands of Pennsylvania citizens had to seek a Supreme Court decision to be able to vote. 

Last year the Republicans passed a bill stripping community control from "fracking" sites and forbidding medical doctors to blow the whistle if they diagnosed illness resulting from fracking operations.  That bill also had to have Supreme Court intervention to return local control to the communities that are guaranteed that right by the constitution of the Commonwealth.  Apparently, Republican constitutional lawyers are not in great supply.

Only a few weeks ago, news emerged that, without hearings, and without consideration of legislative alternatives, Governor Corbett announced plans to out-source the state lottery.  He followed that announcement by extending time and treasure to bring a huge suit against the NCAA for punishing Penn State “unfairly”.  

Speaking of treasure, Pennsylvania colleges, and all human services, including those to veterans and the homeless, have been stripped to the bone in the name of fiscal conservatism, while legislators freely fleece us of thousands of dollars for "expenses".  They get reimbursements just for being politicians, apparently, as no real case can be made for what they are requesting and none is required.

The party of "less government" is taking on real meaning as the party of "Use Government".  Republicans want to demonstrate how to use government to keep political power and to keep government on the payoff side of certain big industries.  Use government to seize any advantage.  Forget the issues!  Forget that the purpose of politics is to negotiate differences in pursuit of the best result for the most people.  The “Use Government” party wants to create legal fissures that will isolate Republican power from any challenge by the people.

The just introduced House Bill 94 seeks to take "majority rule" away from presidential elections in Pennsylvania.   HB 94 proposes to award votes to the Electoral College by district, rather than by the state total of the popular vote.  In this system, President Obama, with 52% of the popular vote in Pa, would have lost almost half of our Electoral College votes to Governor Romney.   Is this okay? 

Yes, if you think gerrymandered districts owned by the Republicans are equal to districts with thousands of voters voting a different ticket. Yes, if you think that the party that lost the election gets to change the rules any way they can in order to gain the upper hand.  Yes, if you think that the election of a president should only reflect party unity, not American unity.

What is most astonishing about all this is the arrogance of a group that really seems to believe that they will be " in power" forever.  Republicans seem to think that by making it very difficult for certain groups to vote, or even be represented, Republicans can't lose.  They think they can use legislation to make political lions cheerfully cede territory to leadership mice. 

They seem not to be worried about voters getting wise to their schemes.  Good luck with that.  Inclusion, local control and majority rule are important values that won’t be surrendered easily.

Voters do get wise and when they figure things out, holding the Republicans accountable is a real possibility.  


Ann Melby Shenkle

January 22, 2013

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Ann Melby Shenkle January 23, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Thank you Mr. Neamand. All thoughtful opinions matter, right, left and independent. And I agree that the Pennsylvania legislature is too large, too costly, and too successful, apparently, in distracting voters from its size (the largest paid state legislature) in the US), pension reform, reducing legislative perks, and term limits, any one of which the Majority Republicans could and should deal with and don’t! PA Act 13 is the unfortunate “fracking” act. Finally, no need to “connect” anything. Governor Corbett’s initiatives about suing the NCAA and privatizing the lottery are well covered in the public record. As for HB 94, we wait.
Mark 12_31 January 24, 2013 at 05:52 AM
How do you consider HB94 to "return electoral power to local communities"? In order to return something, it must be taken first. Right now, the presidential election is based on a popular majority across the state. That means everyone's vote counts and all electorates must respect the popular majority -- that's called democracy. HB94 allots electoral votes to a district that has been drawn specifically for the purpose of ensuring one party will take those votes. Do you think that less populated districts should carry the same weight as highly populated districts, e.g. Philadelphia? How is that fair? This is not a partisan issue, it is one of integrity and patriotism. People are risking their lives to protect our freedoms, and a minority of power-hungry politicians are stealing them.
Ann Melby Shenkle January 24, 2013 at 12:45 PM
I stand corrected on detail of two of the court issues raised. It was Commonwealth Court that ruled on the constitutionality of Act 13. The Supreme Court ruled that the Photo ID law could not be enforced without further examination for disenfranchisement. It was returned to the lower courts for reconsideration. Currently we wait for further legal efforts for both bills. Certainly it can be argued that both of these pieces of major legisation generated by the Republican majority have required significant attention for constitutionality and that both are efforts to change the rules.
David Neamand January 24, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Ann, When the majority democrats held the state not much was done about that either. Take my specific example the Pa Turn Pike Authority under Randell, an attempt to include Rt 80 was included and the costs for the commissioners was hugely increased. I certainly do not decry the size of the legislature in any way or shape, but the numerous commissions, and authorities that exist within this state are bleeding us dry. They administrate without much oversight. Reducing the size of the legislature only reduces the local representation. Personally I see no reason not to privatize the lottery. Reducing the size of government wherever it is possible is a good thing. As to Mark 12_31's comments regarding act 94, first, we are not a democracy, but a republic. Right now, Mark, my right to vote is held hostage by Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg. I do not think that electoral votes in a state should be all or nothing, this bill would allow for a weighted average in electoral voting. This bill does precisely what you say "protect our freedoms" and not hold you hostage to large cities where the view is considerably different from more rural areas.
David Neamand January 25, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Wasn't act 13 tossed excuse me remanded to commonwealth court by the Pa supreme Court because it WAS constitutional and the suite was filed by environmental extremists in an effort to stop fracking in Pa even though the major issues raised have been debunked? Didn't the DEP test wells all thru the area and find no negative results? Thus the controversy was raised not on constitutional grounds but using constitutional challenge as a way of achieving their goal? The same applies to HB 94. Naturally the democrats don't want to see this bill approved as it will result in lower electoral votes from PA They will still get a majority just not all. I guess by your opposition to this new proposed bill you would rather see mob rule in Pa rather then local empowerment?


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