ShareThis Page
News

Senator: Leadership will bury pay-reject bill

| Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005

A state senator has drafted a bill to prevent lawmakers from taking the 16 percent to 54 percent pay raise during their current term, but said she won't file it unless enough senators step forward to support her effort.

Sen. Jane Earll, R-Erie, said Wednesday that Republican Senate leaders told her that if she files the bill they will bury it in the Senate Rules Committee, a leadership-controlled panel that serves as a graveyard for unwanted legislation.

“What's that going to accomplish, other than grandstanding?” Earll said.

Erik Arneson, chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader David “Chip” Brightfill, R-Lebanon County, said he had no immediate comment.

To date, no senators have filed legislation to repeal the July 7 pay raise for lawmakers. The House has a repeal bill and partial repeal bill pending. House Speaker John Perzel, R-Philadelphia, assigned both to the House Rules Committee.

Jeff Coleman, a former Republican state House member from Apollo and now vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, said the Senate needs a bill — whether it's relegated to the Rules Committee or not.

“It's important that the Senate join the House effort,” Coleman said. The foundation is a Harrisburg-based think tank.

Pay-raise opponents agree, saying a Senate bill would help them work toward potentially putting members of the committee or the full Senate on record with another vote. An assignment to the Rules Committee in effect kills a bill, but House members are working on a so-called discharge petition in an effort to get the repeal bills to the House floor.

The closest thing to Senate opposition to the pay hike was a floor speech last week by Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park. Ferlo didn't answer questions presented to an aide about whether he will sponsor or co-sponsor a repeal bill.

Former state House member John Kennedy, a Republican from Camp Hill, said he has been working behind the scenes to obtainr a commitment from a senator to sponsor a repeal bill. Kennedy, now affiliated with the Commonwealth Foundation, hasn't yet come up with any names, Coleman said. Kennedy couldn't be reached for comment yesterday.

Earll's proposal would repeal the so-called unvouchered expenses. That's a term used in the pay-raise law that enables lawmakers to circumvent the state constitutional prohibition against mid-term raises. More than half of the House and Senate are taking the raise now rather than waiting until after they face re-election.

An outright repeal of Act 44, which also raises pay for judges and top state officials, would face even steeper odds.

G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster County, said senators aren't under as much pressure to act as House members are. “The Senate is much more insulated,” Madonna said.

The state's 203 House members are elected every two years. Senators serve four-year terms and only half of the 50-member Senate face election every two years. The next legislative general election is in November 2006. Opposition on an issue for House members tends to be more focused because they represent smaller districts, Madonna said.

Brad Bumsted covers state politics for the Tribune-Review News Service and can be reached at bbumsted@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.

click me