Monthly Archives: June 2007

PA House Bill 289: Not Dead Yet!

OK.  I am becoming more intimate with the thrilling nuts and bolts of legislation, but Roberts Rules of Order confused me during fraternity meetings so I am not the authority on how this sort of thing works.

That caveat aside, it appears the effort to include Pennsylvania’s voters in the democratic process for electing our country’s president is not dead yet.  In fact, the relevant bill should actually come up for a vote in the General Assembly this week.  The chronology goes something like this:

Last Week:  The State Government Committee declares it does not like House Bill 289.  Representative Readshaw and company, though, amend it to address the committee’s concerns.  The amended bill passes along party lines, more or less, and it is referred to the House.  The House then sends it back to the Rules Committee, which is widely interpreted as a death sentence.

Yesterday:  The Rules Committee actually addresses the House’s concerns, and sends the bill back to the House.  It seems they pretty much have to vote on it this week.  Word on the street is Rules would not have referred back unless they were dead serious on actually getting this thing to a general vote.  That is great news.

I will tell you when the vote is as soon as I know.  This all pretty much seems to be breaking down along party lines, so in this case if you are for the founding ideals of the country, you are actually pulling against the PA GOP.

House Bill 289 as amended, by the way, will move our presidential primary to Feb. 12 for the upcoming cycle.  While this is after Super-Duper Mondo Primary Tuesday by a week, it still makes us somewhat relevant.  The solution is not ideal, but it will give the Commonwealth the chance to clearly and meaningfully express its preference for Giuliani as PA’s preference for the GOP nomination.

[Special kudos to a lovely lady in Rep. Matt Baker’s office who is keeping me abreast of all this, and will be sending transcripts of testimony and debate as soon as she can.  As her boss is voting against this measure, and she knows I support it, she deserves our acclimation.]

Advertisements

PA House Needs to Think Harder About Democracy

Sorry for the delay on results on HB 289’s performance last week.  Turns out the State Government Committee did not get to it promptly, and when they did they declined to forward it to the General Assembly, although they did not vote against it.

It seems delay will be the technique used by political insiders to prevent Pennsylvania’s voters from having a say in who becomes the next president of the United States.  I am still trying to get more specifics on which committee members were the major roadblocks, but the general narrative seems to be it was held up by the GOP.

Thank God GOP insiders Bob Asher and Bob Gleason are sort of in Giuliani’s corner.  Or maybe not.  Who can tell?  I do know two of the key opposition groups to moving our primary forward and thus letting Pennsylvanians actually participate in democratic politics were the organizations representing county commissioners and the elections apparatus.  One would have thought Giuliani’s new allies in the PA GOP leadership would have had some sway with those groups.

Keeping with the animal metaphors, though, it appears having the support of PA GOP insiders like Asher and Gleason is sort of like have the support of a bad tempered pit bull.  They’re your buddies so long as you keep them fed.  Don’t feed the gluttons enough, though, and at worst they’ll turn on you to show you who’s boss.  At best they’ll do nothing because they simply don’t care about anyone else.  After all, they love to feast on the weakened carcass of former friends.  It’s possible those insiders did everything they could to move this process forward and just failed.  You could fill multiple Wikipedia entries on what I don’t know about back room Pennsylvania political manuverings.  But I doubt it.

Believe me, I know it is important to cultivate allies throughout the big tent of conservative politics if you’re running for the GOP presidential nomination.  I also know, though, Giuliani highly values loyalty.  It’s not too late for them to be figuring out who can and cannot be trusted, but it will be too late soon.  At least now Team Giuliani knows from whom they can cultivate loyalty– the PA conservative grassroots– and from whom loyalty will be more difficult to inculcate– the PA GOP establishment.

Ultimately this may work in Hizzoner’s favor in the general election should he be fortunate enough to secure the nomination without Pennsylvania’s help.  Sure, he’ll get our delegates.  But long after the nomination is decided.  Now, though, Team Giuliani will perhaps be less likely to secure allies within the ossified GOP power structure loathed by the activists, and friendlier with the anti-establishmentarians.  This coupled with his moderately conservative stance on the issues could make him unbeatable in a PA general election.

Still No 289 Vote

I hear the State Government Committee has not yet gotten to discussing the thorny issue of whether or not to let Pennsylvanians help decide the US presidency.  They did manage to send to the Assembly a bill to divest state funds from Sudan, though, rather than Sudan and Iran.  That was a victory for Babette Josephs.  She must think her river ward constituents are pro-Mullah.

They also sent along bills making it harder to terminate the domocile rental lease of crazy people, and easier for Commonwealth legal authorities to deport illegals.  As my analysis of this legislation could charitably be called cursory, I recommend you consult a legislator or lawyer– aren’t they often the same thing anyway?- before taking any umbrage, or throwing any fits.

A staffer in Harrisburg has promised to send me the results of the committee vote if they get to it today.  Of course, everyone seems to agree that if we were to move up our presidential primary we would have to get the gears in motion now.  So I suppose it’s possible opponents of the bill may be considering delay tactics rather than publicly opposing Democracy.

No 289 Results Today, Alas

The results of the State Government Committee vote on the bills to move forward Pennsylvania’s primary– and thereby throw the Commonwealth’s voters a bone and let them help select our next president– have not been posted online yet.

Once 5pm passed, and it still was not posted, I tried calling the Harrisburg offices of various state reps, and nobody seemed to be around.  I understand they were in session pretty late last night, so I guess everybody packed up as soon as they could this afternoon.

I have learned this:  Getting information from the Commonwealth of PA regarding legislation after 5pm on a weekday is like trying to talk to a tree sloth.  You can try, but you will only be met by a wall of silence.

Giuliani to Visit Pittsburgh

Appears Hizzoner will be reprising a visit he made last year supporting Senator Rick Santorum by swinging through Pittsburgh next Wednesday, 6/27/07.  Clinton and Obama will be making similar visits.  The rest of the GOP field has not, as yet, announced any such plans.  Full coverage here.

As I am a SE PA guy the chances of me having anything insidery for your consumption regarding this whistle-stop are slim.  But as I aspire to be the voice of our entire wonderful Commonwealth while reporting on Giuliani’s prospects here, I will do my best.

PA House Bill 289 Committee Vote…

…is 10am today.  I’ll keep you posted on the continued insular arrogance of certain constituencies of the PA GOP leadership.

Moving Up PA’s Primary: Matt Baker = Delphic Clarity

To recap why we care what a state representative from the remote portions of Pennsylvania thinks about moving up our primary:

Pennsylvanians have not cast a meaningful presidential primary vote for a generation, since we made the tragically unwise decision of opting for a peanut farmer with messianic tendencies over Scoop Jackson– a sober, reasonable adult– back in 1975.

Currently, the people of Pennsylvania are showing an impetuous desire to favor candidates different from those favored by political insiders, especially on the GOP side.  Actual voters seem to prefer Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.  The GOP leadership seems to prefer John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Matt Baker is the GOP chair of the PA House of Representatives’ State Government Committee, which tomorrow will vote on whether to pass on to the House a bill moving our presidential primary to early February, thereby managing to fulfill one of the basic tenets of representative republicanism.

A couple months ago I shared with my state representative– Carol Rubley– that Matt Baker’s office had been helpful in providing me information regarding relevant legislation, but an opaque enigma when it came to actually expressing a position.  She casually remarked that she found that unsurprising.

Well, yesterday the Democrat chair– Babette Josephs– finally got off the fence and told me she supported the measure.  Matt Baker’s office, though, remains mum.  He should be embarrassed.  This also seems entirely typical of a legislator who is a member of a body with a reputation of having casual disregard for actual voters.

UPDATE:  Matt Baker sent me an e-mail in which I think he said he was going to decline to move forward 289.  As he used the word “pass”, which could mean take a pass on the bill, or perhaps actually pass the bill, I’m not sure.  The tone of the e-mail seemed to suggest he was for it in principle, but there were too many bureaucratic interests against it to merit the bother.

Thus actual representative democracy may actually take a back seat to the interests of the unelected bureaucracy.  At least that’s how it seems Representative Baker wants things to go down.

Developing, as Drudge would say…