Burns: Commandeering the House chamber is not the way to get issues addressed

HARRISBURG, June 8 – State Rep. Frank Burns released the following statement today after several black House members took over the speaker’s podium in the House chamber in an effort to draw attention to stalled police reform legislation:

“Insurrections in the House chamber are not something legislators expect or that the public accepts. This is not the type of behavior the people back home want to see. It only serves to further polarize things, which runs counter to my consistent attempts to work in a bipartisan fashion in the legislature.

“I've never seen such an orchestrated maneuver in my time in the legislature, one which openly flaunts disrespect for House rules, civil discourse and decorum. It was a sad day for the institution and sets a bad precedent.”

“Issuing ultimatums is neither democratic nor effective, and I fear that this is only going to drive a further wedge between the parties instead of moving them closer to working together. In PA, you simply cannot govern by attempting to hijack the political process in the House chamber. It's hard for a moderate like me, who isn't camped out in the far left or the far right, to see how this does anything but further inflame tensions on both extremes.

“Every member has legislation that isn't being considered but that doesn't give them the right to overtake the speaker’s podium and refuse to leave until they get their way,” Burns said.

However, Burns said he agrees with House Speaker Mike Turzai’s suggestion to deal with this matter through special legislative session. Burns said this could have been hammered out before the unprecedented disruptive action which caused session to be canceled for the day.

News reports said the protest was an attempt by several legislators to bring attention to a number of bills that would address police brutality, which has spearheaded protests nationwide since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis.