For the last two weeks, after a long and rainy summer break, the Pennsylvania General Assembly was back in Harrisburg to wrap up their two year session before heading back to their districts for re-election battles. The top issues on the docket were relief for sexual abuse victims in light of the Attorney General’s report into the Catholic Church, whether by special fund or revision of statute of limitations, as well as limiting the size of the General Assembly.
So far, the legislature has been unable to come to a consensus on the former issue and the latter issue was shelved for another session after a poison pill amendment was added to the vehicle to reduce both chambers not just the House. They go home empty handed with the House returning on October 9th for three session days and both chambers returning on the 15th for their final three session days before the November 6th election.
Of note, President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati introduced a bill that would provide for semi-open primary elections in Pennsylvania, allowing registered Independents to cast a ballot for either Republicans or Democrats. While he has no plans to pass the bill in the current session, Scarnati is serious in his effort to reign in the extremes of partisan politics and bring compromising moderates back from near extinction. In addition to open primaries, Senator Folmer recently held a hearing of the Senate State Government Committee to examine at a bill that would establish the Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board, leading to an environment that is ripe for a serious discussion about moving the Pennsylvania Primary to an earlier date.
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