Tuesday, January 5, 2010

PA State Government: How to Handle This?

Does anyone buy this theory?

Shuster said he believes the Legislature could become more efficient this year, in large part because of lawmakers' self-interest. With all House seats and half the Senate seats up for election, "they don't want to go back home and be painted with what happened — or didn't happen — in 2009," Shuster said.

"They're selfishly motivated," he said. "They're more motivated because it is an election year." (Trib, Brad Bumstead)

If we don't see some results in the early part of the year, I'd just as soon assume the problems are structural and start calling for that constitutional convention in earnest. Unicameral legislature, anyone? Ballot propositions? Term limits? Anyone in Harrisburg presently going to speak up in favor of changing something, anything, or is it landslide time?


  1. I've never understood how the PA state senate ended up the way it is. I could understand having, for example, 1 senator from each county. That would make sense, especially since the Philadelphia (and to a lesser extent, Pittsburgh) delagation(s) have such a huge pressence in the House. Having one senator per county would ensure that the less-populated parts of the state wouldn't have their voices drowned out by the bigger cities.

    But from what I can tell *both* the House *and* the Senate are apportioned by population. What's the point of having two separate houses that are apportioned the same way?

    Unless I'm missing some esoteric detail about the way House and Senate districts are drawn, it looks like both houses are essentially doing the exact same thing. And in that case, unicameral would be a cheaper and easier option for us.

  2. PA state government more efficient?

    that is pretty funny

  3. On term limits, I believe that voters decide term limits, when to vote an elected in or out. I appreciate the motives behind term limits especially because many legislative districts are drawn to be uncompetitive and protect incumbents. That said, term limits elsewhere (Ohio) have meant the risk of legislators spending their final term appealing to narrow interests and lobbyists to shore up future employment with little accountability to constituents. Even revolving door rules that restrict lobbying eligibilityfor a period after their term don't deter this activity. Term limits are not good reform for PA.

    Making sure that more truly competitive districts are drawn in reapportionment could be a good start.

  4. Redistricting should include a planar isopermimetric quotient equal to or greater than 0.5.

  5. Richmond..

    If the Senate were elected by County, we'd have a permanent Republican-controlled Senate.. PA has been described as Pittsburh and Philadelphia with Alabama in the the middle (the "T"). I say, woohoo.. bring it on. Of course, the Democrats/Liberals would NEVER agree to this and would b*tch and moan.. never acknowledging the parallel with the US Senate... 'course, if it were put to a vote or a Constitutional Convention.. hmmmmm... you never know. Screw Philadelphia AND Pittsburgh.

  6. Agreed, Mountaineer. How about abolishing the Senate? There seems to be a level playing field in the House, no one party could complain. I'd even entertain lengthening House members' terms and staggering them, since they'd be the only body left and to have them all running for reelection every two years seems like a bother.

    Lefty - I'm new to the term limits bandwagon and that sounds like a good point. Yet 36-year entrenched veterans don't seem like the ticket either.

  7. Bring on Alabama as a model? For what? Parasitic economy that requires (and accepts) an annual bailout from the federal government? Poorly educated residents who believe in fairy tales and college football far more than in education? National leader in nothing (except, perhaps, residual racism and disdain of standard English)?

    Much to celebrate there.

    I guess you can take the boy out of West Virginia but . . .

  8. The three links under "news" really deserve their own post. Don't get distracted by the city council vote. The results will have little impact on the residents of Pittsburgh. Currently, there are much more important things going behind the scenes. Namely, the sale of our parking garages to a group of "investors" for pennies on the dollar. This is what we should be following. Do you think it a coincidence that the only other cities to engage in such a corrupt scheme are Chicago and Harrisburg? Keep you eyes on the players involved here. Pittsburgh is about to get fleeced by the same group of players (again).

  9. V - Yes, there will be a separate post on that news probably tonight. I'm going for the "slow boil", where readers first develop an interest themselves -- one of the tricks of the trade.

    Tell me, do you have any specific reason to believe the Zappalas would have something to do with any garage leasing deal? I'd hate to see what could be part of The City's Answer sullied only because of speculation. Where would I look?

  10. Mountaineer - Here's a bit of important information from the Dirty Stinkin' Librul Wikipedia. Please be careful:

    "Badly-produced moonshine can be contaminated with toxins, mainly from materials used in construction of the still. Stills employing used automotive radiators as a condenser are particularly dangerous; in some cases, glycol products from antifreeze used in the radiator can appear as well. Radiators used as heaters also may contain lead at the connections to the plumbing. Both glycol and lead are poisonous and potentially deadly."

  11. What's the hurry here?

    From Rich Lord in the PG
    The Pittsburgh Parking Authority has set up a rapid process for choosing a law firm to advise it on the proposed lease of its garages, lots and street meters. The authority wants a law firm to represent it in its efforts to privatize facilities that total 17,000 parking spaces.

    Yesterday, it posted on the City of Pittsburgh Web site an invitation for law firms to submit proposals to handle the involved legal work. Firms have only until Friday to respond and would then be interviewed on Tuesday, next Wednesday or Thursday. The request for proposals does not say when a firm would be picked.

    Remember the last time this happened?