DeLissio Stumps to Constituents Prior to Tuesday Primary
State rep. discusses Harrisburg'ss status and her own priorities.
One week before state Rep. Pam DeLissio's first reelection test, the General Assembly member presented herself as a Harrisburg outsider, still bent on altering the system.
"After 17 months in the state Legislature one clear observation that I want to impart is about the process or lack thereof. If we had a different process we would have a different and better outcome," DeLissio (D-194) said.
In a quarterly town hall meeting held at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, DeLissio discussed statewide issues in advance of the April 24 primary, where she faces a challenge from Ray Bailey, Jr., a local Democratic Committee person.
Since taking office in January 2010, DeLissio has introduced only one piece of legislation. She attributes that to the Republican-controlled state house's inability "to play nice in the sandbox." Where DeLissio has worked, she said, is impacting legislation that could actually see the light of day.
"I rank 25th out of 203 members for introducing amendments to bills. Through April, I've done 38. That's the vehicle to influence legislation if (Democratic) bills will just die in committee," she said.
She emphasized the importance of voting and spoke directly on the controversial voter ID law, which doesn't go into effect until November. DeLissio said as a protest, she won't bring ID on Tuesday.
"It's not about protecting voters but about suppression. Getting people registered and out to the polls should be a priority, not restricting IDs," she said.
Voter fraud is a concern for DeLissio and she said she's not opposed to identification laws, if implemented rationally and over time. The current law fails to do that, she said.
Referencing the bipartisan James Baker-Jimmy Carter election reform committee, which state house Republicans cited as inspiration for IDs, DeLissio said the Pennsylvania law ignores other implementation provisions—such as a gradual timetable, greater accessibility for IDs and a common sense provisional ballot.
"We chose to take one of those five recommendations, pass it into law—ignore the other four—and phase it in a lot quicker than recommended," she said.
With budget hearings already underway, citizens in attendance asked DeLissio what she thinks is the most important issue to watch. Interested in systematic reform, DeLissio harped on the inequity in public education funding. Without directly supporting it, DeLissio referenced a bill from Rep. Jim Cox (R-129) that mandates sales taxes fund public education, instead of property tax
"If this property tax bill gets any legs, that's a real change for the state education system. It depends on what HB 1776 does—the devil is in the details—but this could be big," she said.
DeLissio will host a local budget meeting, tentatively scheduled for May 15 at the Gustine Lake Recreation Center in East Falls from 4 to 7 p.m.