Since the election, there has been a dizzying array of efforts to put chinks in the armor of public protections, including protections for children.
State representatives in Harrisburg slashed the waiting period before it can act on an amendment from the Senate from 24 hours to just six. Spokespeople for the Republican leaders said this change would make the process more efficient.
To be clear, the “inefficiency” they’re talking about here is careful, deliberate consideration of legislation, not only by lawmakers but by the public and media as well. The 24 hour waiting period, after all, came about as a result of lawmakers voting themselves a pay increase in the dead of night in 2005.
Also last week, the PA House Ethics Committee adopted a new rule that would make it more difficult to successfully charge unscrupulous lawmakers.
Representative Scott Petri (R-Bucks) explained that this so-called reform would protect the due process rights of lawmakers. This change is a particularly precarious development for a legislature infamous for corruption.
Meanwhile at the federal level, Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan (R-WI) defended a similar change for the Office of Congressional Ethics before the effort was abandoned owing to public outrage.
Futzing with mechanisms that are designed to encourage the ethical and transparent conduct of our elected officials is playing with fire, especially because they serve to further cloud the waters of our already deeply distrusted political processes.
In stark contrast to these pro-corruption measures, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) proposed an amendment to stop the Obamacare repeal process if the legislation would leave children worse off in terms of health coverage, benefits or affordability. (Sadly, the measure failed on a 49-49 vote.)
That’s the kind of legislative standard we need. In response to the prospect of a repeal of Obamacare, Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) said, “We’re loading a gun here. I want to know where it’s pointed before we start the process.”
We know which babies are cast out with the bathwater in the name of political expediency. More than ever, our state and federal legislators need to follow Senator Brown’s example and protect our children from their political dysfunction.
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Public Citizens for Children + Youth
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