ShareThis Page

This is how you play House in Harrisburg

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

NEWS ITEM: House Speaker Sam Smith is preparing to reintroduce a bill that would cut the size of the state Legislature from 253 members to 203 by eliminating 50 House seats. The House last year approved similar legislation proposed by the Punxsutawney Republican, but the measure died in the Senate.

From the House chamber:

Smith: “OK, listen up, everyone. Could I have your attention, please? We've received some rare favorable coverage for this idea about dramatically downsizing the House, and people actually seem to think we're serious about operating more efficiently. Mission accomplished. It's time to start discussing how we ensure that this never, ever happens. Yes, Representative O'Neill? You have the floor.”

Rep. Bernard O'Neill, R-Bucks County: “Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that the method used to guarantee this proposal's destruction last year — amending the bill to also reduce the number of Senate seats from 50 to 38 — was brilliant. We looked progressive when we approved the bill, all the while knowing the Senate never would go for cutting its membership so significantly based on our legislation. Sheer genius.”

Smith: “Thanks, Bernie.”

O'Neill: “That being said, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to be the one to amend the bill again. I was really lucky that no one noticed I did it last year, and I don't want to tempt fate by doing it twice in a row. Someone is bound to go back and trace the change this time.”

Smith: “I understand, Bernie. This should be a bipartisan effort anyway. Minority Leader Dermody, would one of your members be willing to amend my bill? What about Bill DeWeese?”

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont: “Uh, no, Mr. Speaker. He's in prison.”

Smith: “Mike Veon?”

(Awkward pause. House parliamentarian whispers in Smith's ear.)

Smith: “Really? I had no idea. Mr. Dermody, is there a member of your delegation who isn't incarcerated?”

Dermody: “No current member is in jail, Mr. Speaker.”

Smith: “Can you suggest someone who might be willing to amend the bill?”

Dermody: “Hmmmm ... Paul Costa, maybe. He'd probably be so grateful that someone is paying attention to him that he'd do it.”

Smith: “Paul Costa?”

Dermody: “The guy from Wilkins.”

Smith: “I'm sorry, I don't know who he is.”

Dermody: “That's probably because he's only been here 13-plus years. Costa is the guy who introduced that resolution a few weeks ago lauding the National Junior Hockey Team for winning the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. He was so proud of that resolution. He considered it ground-breaking legislation.”

Smith: “Oh — him. Yes, he'll do nicely. Probably won't even realize what he's doing.”

Dermody: “I'll see if I can track him down. He's usually in the back alley grabbing a smoke.”

Smith: “Thank you, Mr. Dermody. While we finalize putting this poison pill into the legislation, does anyone want to discuss raising our per diems?”

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.