Pam’s legislative wish list for the New Year!
At this time of year, I enjoy taking the time to reflect on the path traveled. Simultaneously, I like to look forward to the possibilities of the New Year.
Since I write in my capacity as your State Representative, my thoughts center on the legislative initiatives that can truly make a difference in the lives of my constituents. In no particular order, I think the state legislature should focus on:
Voting Improvements – PA should work harder to ensure that more people vote by permitting early voting (versus the 13 hour window that is now election day) and, at the very least, “no excuse” absentee ballots. Thoughtful consideration should also be given to open primaries. With the well documented polarization and partisanship in our state house, many citizens have registered as independent or other 3rd party affiliations. Short of open primaries, we must make it easier for 3rd parties to get on the ballot.
Redistricting Reform – This is a must. Allowing redistricting to remain in the hands of the two largest political parties has contributed to low voter turnout (citizens figure “why bother?”) and to rigid political ideologies in both our state house and Congress.
Campaign Finance Reform – At the state level in particular, heavily funded special interest groups contribute to candidates/elected officials. These elected officials use campaign funds to make contributions to support any number of community endeavors.
Constituents may then think that is a great elected official because they are supporting local efforts. But, those same elected officials may be guaranteeing that the needs of the special interests are met, often to the detriment of constituents. This cycle must stop.
Healthcare – Another major area where state legislation can improve. Again, I have introduced my HB1688 – the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan – for single payer health care, which will ensure universal coverage, and as importantly, controlled costs.
Nurse Practitioners – In Pennsylvania, they cannot practice to the full scope of their license. Bills have been introduced repeatedly in both chambers to permit full scope of practice. Given the shortage of primary care physicians, this legislation would go a long way to expanding access to basic health and preventive care for our citizens.
Part-Time Legislature – Though this seems counterintuitive, I firmly believe we should be a part-time legislature. We would be more focused, identify true priorities and actually pass meaningful policy that moves Pennsylvania forward. As a part-time legislature, I feel certain we would see fewer efforts like excessively restrictive abortion ban bills, bills that seek to undermine public sector collective bargaining and bills that jeopardize the health of transgender youth being drafted, debated and in many instances voted on final passage.
Gender Parity – Last but certainly not least, if we had a mechanism to ensure gender parity many of my wishes above would have a better chance of becoming reality. Women think and work differently and reach consensus more quickly than their male counterparts. In the Pennsylvania House, women account for barely 20% of the members.
Your input is integral to the success of the aforementioned possibilities and I am committed to continuing the ongoing dialogue with my constituents in the New Year. I invite you to participate in this dialogue by attending my 69th Town Hall on Saturday, January 20th at 10am in the Wolcoff Auditorium at Roxborough Memorial Hospital.
I am eager to work with you to make the 194th a wonderful place to live, work and play in 2018.
Cheers to a healthy and prosperous New Year!
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Representative Pamela A. DeLissio serves the 194th Legislative District, which includes East Falls.