State House Sound Bites

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

PA House votes to stop letting lawmakers lease cars

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Oct 1, 2018 5:32 PM
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Some lawmakers use state-owned vehicles in their commutes to Harrisburg. It's not a practice everyone agrees with. (Photo by AP)

 

(Harrisburg) -- A plan to stop future state lawmakers from leasing taxpayer-funded vehicles has passed the House and is now moving on to the Senate.

The Republican-backed initiative is borne of concerns car accidents and other repairs cost too much.

42 members of the legislature lease state vehicles--27 in the House, and 15 in the Senate.

In the House, all are Democrats. In the Senate, all but five are.

Delaware County Representative Margo Davidson, a Democrat, has gotten in three accidents in state cars, racking up $30,000 in repair costs covered by state insurance.

Supporters of the bill have held her up as an example of why leases are too expensive.

But she protests--noting if a lawmaker drives enough miles, a lease is actually more cost-effective than the state's 55 cent-per-mile reimbursement.

"This is nothing more than political theater, Mr. Speaker," she said on the House floor. "It is not economic reality."

Bill sponsor Brad Roae, a Crawford County Republican representative, said that doesn't assuage his concerns.

"If legislators are elected in the future that have bad driving records, and they have accidents, taxpayers are going to pay more money than if that wasn't the situation," he said.

The measure now goes to the Senate where, notably, the two top Republicans lease state cars.

A spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati didn't immediately comment, and Leader Jake Corman didn't have much to say.

"Until this very second, I didn't even know about the bill, so we'll see when it comes over," he said.

The Senate has only six remaining voting days before the legislative session ends and the proposal would have to be restarted from scratch if it fails to pass.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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