State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House Dems attempt to salvage legislation from Metcalfe's panel

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 10, 2018 4:22 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Frustrated by their proposals consistently failing to pass a key GOP-controlled state House committee, Democrats are appealing to the speaker to help them circumvent it.

Their plea appears to have little chance of success.

Republican Daryl Metcalfe of Butler County has run the State Government Committee since 2011. In that time, he's made clear his aversion to legislation sponsored by Democrats--once writing in a Facebook post that he "block[s] all substantive Democrat legislation sent to my committee and advance[s] good Republican legislation."

House Democratic spokesman Bill Patton acknowledged, Metcalfe can technically do what he wants with the proposals, and the Democratic caucus doesn't have official recourse.

But he insisted, the situation is out of hand.

"We looked up all eight years. In that time, there have been hundreds of democratic-sponsored bills sent to that committee by the speaker. Only one of them ever came out of that committee," he said.

The one bill in question? A land use measure in 2014.

House Democratic leaders re-introduced more than 80 stalled bills this week, and are asking Speaker Mike Turzai to route them to different committees.

Turzai spokesman Neal Lesher suggested the proposals' initial failure may not be Metcalfe's fault.

"I mean anybody could just file a bunch of bills, sit around and do nothing, and then say, 'oh they didn't move my bills," Lesher said.

Lesher also noted, when Democrats held the House majority, they let through about the same overall number of across-the-aisle bills as Republicans are now.

Patton didn't dispute that, but said this situation is different.

"Never before has there been one committee chairman who has bottled up hundreds of bills over a period of years simply because they're sponsored by members of the other party," he said. "That is unprecedented."

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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