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South Hills candidates for 42nd District seat want smaller House

| Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

All three candidates seeking to represent the South Hills in the state House seat formerly held by Matt Smith said Wednesday night in their only joint appearance of the campaign they want to downsize and reform the Legislature.

Democrat Dan Miller, Republican Dan Remely and Libertarian George Brown spoke at a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters in Bethel Park Council Chambers, each seeking to fill the remaining year of Smith's term in the 42nd District representing Green Tree, Mt. Lebanon, Thornburg, Rosslyn Farms, and parts of Bethel Park and Scott. Smith is now a state senator.

The candidates — all from Mt. Lebanon — said they were dissatisfied to some degree with things in Harrisburg and offered different approaches to the 20 people in attendance. The election is Tuesday.

All three agreed that the Legislature should be downsized and made more efficient, with Remely and Miller suggesting at least a 20 percent cut in the number of lawmakers and Brown favoring a 50 percent cut.

Miller suggested terms be lengthened but limited in the number of terms a lawmaker could serve; Brown said per diems should be eliminated and every expense documented; and Remely thought cutting the number of lawmakers would make proposing, writing and passing bills more efficient and cheaper for staff.

“It's an expensive operation when every little item a legislator has gets written up,” he said.

On privatizing the state's liquor stores, Miller, 40, said the current proposal doesn't do enough to replace the money the stores or their proposed sale brings to the state's coffers once the transaction is done; he favored modernizing the system instead.

Remely, 62, also had concerns with how the sale proceeds would be spent, hoping that some could go into job training and placement for the liquor store workers.

Brown, 52, said the stores should be sold off quickly and the state should use the money to pay down debt. “The workers can find jobs in the private sector. Somebody will still need to sell booze, and these people know about wine.”

Remely and Miller both had doubts about the way cyber and charter schools are paid tuition from public schools, with Remely supporting reform of how the payments are calculated and Miller criticizing the state's elimination of reimbursements to districts for those costs.

“I get tired of privatization schemes paid for off the public dime,” Miller said.

Brown said the focus on charter schools was too narrow, saying education spending was being driven higher by an “unholy alliance” of school unions and politicians from either of the traditional parties.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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