The House, Senate and Gov. Rendell are about to pull another fast one on us on Monday.(edited slightly)
Background: It's reported that there is an agreement about the proposed law to reduce property taxes. The conference committee that has been working on the legislation will issue its report Monday morning at 10:30. Under current rules, this means Gov. Rendell could sign it into law Monday night.
Speculation – no one knows for sure – is that the House will pass the conference committee report Monday afternoon; the Senate Monday evening; and the governor sign it Monday night.
This is the same process used to pass the gambling law in 2004 and the pay raise in 2005 – no public hearings on the final bill and no opportunity for citizens to read it, understand it, hear different opinions about it, and express their own opinions to their lawmakers.
But until Monday morning, we won't know what the final conference committee report says. The original bill was 89 pages long. We don't know how long the conference committee report will be. It may have nothing new in it. Or it may have special provisions that we haven't seen before. We don't know, and we can't know until Monday morning when we can see it for ourselves.
This is a major piece of legislation that will have a profound impact on Pennsylvania. It is not something that should be rushed through the process, and there is no reason why citizens, the news media, and public interest groups from across the political spectrum should be prevented from commenting on it before
So what's the rush? Lawmakers want to spend the next two weeks before the primary election telling voters that they cut property taxes. This is politics, not policy.
What To Do? Now's when we see whether lawmakers have learned anything from the citizens' anger over the pay raise. Whether you like the property tax bill or not, you deserve the chance to participate in its passage or defeat.
Democracy Rising PA believes in a process that looks like this:
1. The conference committee should issue the report.
2. The House and Senate should send it to the appropriate standing committees for at least one public hearing.
3. Then, after at least 14 calendar days, the bill should come up for a vote.