Rep. Turzai proved to me yesterday what I have thought for a long time. Everything that he does is all about his power. It has never been about representing the people. He has always been looking to gain more personal power. He ran for Congress in 1998. He ran for State Senate in 2001. He ran for Lt. Governor in 2006. Now he has worked his way up at the State House and is the Majority Leader. Yesterday he told the Democrats that if you don’t play my way, I will punish you. Not only has he proposed ‘reform’ measures that would give the majority even MORE power, his proposed changes that would remove 10% of the Democrats from every committee.
When the Democrats took control of the House in 2006, they made sweeping reforms that would give every rank and file member more power. In fairness, this wasn’t just because The Democrats thought it was the right thing to do. This was due to a lot of outrage from voters and I would give the pay raise anger more credit for these changes than the Democratic Leadership in the State House. The sweeping reforms allowed any member to offer amendments on the floor of the House. After years of being closed out from any real legislative negations because they were in the minority, they gave the Republicans (and all House members) the ability to be more
involved in the legislative procedure through the amendment process. The changes led to a lot of amendments being proposed that bogged down bills and debate, but it gives more House members power instead of all the legislative power being in the hands of the Speaker and Majority Leader of the House like in the past.
So the minute the Republicans have control of the State House, after screaming about representation this past election cycle, they are going to take complete control over all the legislation that will be put on the House floor. This move raises questions about whether Mike Turzai and Republican leaders are ready to lead, or are too volatile to govern responsibly. If Republicans are so interested in good government and reform, why are they afraid to debate and vote on improvements to their legislation out in full view of the public? Republicans used the amendment process when they were in the minority the last four years, why do they want to limit the ability of the minority party to introduce amendments? What is Rep. Mike Turzai afraid of now? He has all the votes he needs to accept or reject amendments that are proposed. Offering amendments is the way that good legislation gets made better and silencing debate threatens to derail the democratic process.
Majority Leader Mike Turzai, three weeks ago (Jan. 4, 2011):
I do not fashion myself a clever person. I do not really care to do clever
procedural maneuvers. I would rather us have straightforward, civil policy debates to recognize the differences and then to let democracy take hold. You can vote "yes" or you can vote "no" and we still can be friends afterwards and we can still hold our heads high with respect to the citizens of Pennsylvania. That is how I hope to be as a majority leader, and I am looking forward to working with each and every one of you.”
So what did Mr. Turzai accomplish yesterday? Was he being a leader?
Picture from the October 29, 1998 Post-Gazette: Turzai apologizes to U.S. Rep. Klink for misconduct by campaign workers. Candidates' trickery catches the eyes of opponent’s days before election. Mike Turzai finishes his apology to applause from his wife, Lidia, and supporters yesterday.