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Editorial

LWV: Fix Harrisburg

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Now that the Primary Election is over, the weekly message to you in the Bucks County Herald from the League of Women Voters of Bucks County will focus on other issues of relevance to defending our Democracy in Pennsylvania in general and Bucks County in particular. This week, we introduce you to Fix Harrisburg.
Fix Harrisburg, launched on March 30, is a new project of Fair Districts PA. Fair Districts PA was founded in 2016 by representatives from a combination of organizations concerned about accountable government in Pennsylvania, including the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Common Cause Pennsylvania and other organizations concerned about preserving our democracy.
The original goal of Fair Districts Pa was to end gerrymandering in Harrisburg. (Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating voting districts to benefit one political party or another, rather than citizens. Both parties do it and the losers are always the voters.)
In their five years of lobbying to amend the constitution to prevent legislative gerrymandering, Fair Districts PA learned that the rules in Harrisburg, amazingly, prevent many bills from being introduced, debated and brought to a vote. This occurs even when a clear majority of the voters want a bill to succeed and even when a majority of legislators on both the Democratic and Republican side of the aisle support it.
How is this possible? If the party leaders don’t want it brought up, it dies in committee. Year after year, bills with broad bipartisan support are blocked by committee chairs and legislative leaders. And the situation is getting worse with time, not better.

Procedural rules are established the first day of every session. These procedural rules allow partisan gatekeepers to control the agenda and block reform. The rules are not in the constitution or in law. Rather, they are decided by the leaders of the majority party. Right now, a few partisan gatekeepers control the legislative agenda.
So, Fair Districts PA and the League of Women Voters of PA have launched the “Fix Harrisburg” campaign to ask for rules that ensure that bipartisan solutions receive a vote.
For this campaign to succeed, we, the people, must speak out loudly. The League of Women Voters will continue to use this space in the Bucks County Herald to provide more information to you about this unacceptable situation. In the meantime, (1) educate yourself by studying the FixHarrisburg.com website and the Fair Districts PA website, (2) provide support by signing the ‘Fix Harrisburg” petition and (3) consider volunteering to help the cause of democracy in Pennsylvania.
For information about the League of Women Voters, go to lwvbucks.org.

League of Women Voters of Bucks County

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