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'Good Government' Bills Would Eliminate Lame Duck Sessions

A bill that would prevent Pennsylvania lawmakers from passing legislation before a new governor can be sworn into office is one of several measures that the co-chairman of the state Government Reform Caucus plans to introduce in January.

Senator Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) said one of the bills he plans to introduce would eliminate the lame duck session after the election but before the end of the calendar year when votes are held before the swearing-in of the new legislature. It would also place a ban on votes during the two-week period between the swearing-in of a new legislature and the inauguration of a new governor.

The unusual mid-swearing in session is being proposed this year which has prompted an outcry from most  Democrats and some Republicans

“It would be logistically difficult to get something done, and frankly, if high priority items to Governor [Tom] Corbett haven’t gotten done in the last four years, I’m not sure they are going to get done in two and a half weeks in January,” Teplitz said.

Teplitz said he will also look to pass a bill that addresses the issue of gifts to legislators. Under the bill, lawmakers would have to report any gifts they receive valued at $50 or greater.

“The Government Reform Caucus is going to continue working on the issue of gifts to legislators and elected officials; trying to reduce or even eliminate those gifts,” Teplitz said. “We’ve also been talking about issues like COLAs (cost of living adjustments) to legislators and per diems to legislators.”

The caucus of approximately 40 senators and representatives in Pennsylvania, promotes “good government” legislation.

When the new legislative session begins in January, incoming Democratic Governor Tom Wolf will be challenged with maintaining a “good government” with a Republican-controlled legislature.

Teplitz said it shouldn’t be too difficult.

“If you look at the last time we had this dynamic, which was only four years ago, I think most people would say that a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature worked pretty well together to get some things done for Pennsylvania,” Teplitz said. “I hope that we’ll be able to return to that.”