© 2022 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Politics & Government

Heidelbaugh Calls New Futules Proposal 'An Affront To Democracy'

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA

Republican Allegheny County Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh has not been shy about her dissatisfaction with the way the county’s legislative body operates.

In July, she suggested to the state Government Review Commission that the council be disbanded, decrying it as “superfluous” and a rubber stamp for County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s initiatives.

Last September, she unsuccessfully attempted to pull multiple pieces of legislation she had introduced out of committee for a full vote before council, citing a rule in the county’s administrative code that said bills must be voted upon within 90 days of their introduction.

A bill introduced by Councilman Nick Futules on Tuesday would amend the code, creating five instances in which a piece of legislation would be exempt from the 90-day rule.

“The current 90-day rule doesn’t give any options,” Futules said. “It says after 90 days it has to go to the full council for consideration even if the primary sponsor doesn’t show up in the committee meeting to discuss the ordinance itself.”

According to the text of the bill, a measure would be exempt from the 90-day rule if tabled by two-thirds of the seated members of council; upon request of all primary sponsors; if declared moot by a majority of committee members; if referred to the full council and then re-referred to committee; or if the council president or committee chair determines there is not enough information to take action.

Futules said the proposal addresses Heidelbaugh’s concerns about application of the 90-day rule.

“This basically helps her, it doesn’t hurt her,” he said. “I’m only trying to create good government.”

Heidelbaugh said she disagrees.

“It eviscerates the 90-day rule, and makes it almost impossible for any citizen-sponsored legislation, legislation sponsored by any of the row officers, any single councilperson or the minority party to have legislation heard at the committee level,” she said.

Heidelbaugh said Futules’ proposal is too vague and gives too much power to the council president and committee chairs.

“If there is a yes vote on this, it will be a definitive, for-all-time vote,” Heidelbaugh said. “A yes vote on this is an affront to democracy and representative government in Allegheny County.”

Listener contributions are WESA’s largest source of income. Your support funds important journalism by WESA and NPR reporters. Please give now — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a difference.