East Falls NOW Article: The Year Ahead

The Year Ahead

Thank you for your vote and confidence to return me to the PA House.  Thank you for letting me share a few reflections on the two-year session that ended November 30, 2020 and to share my hope for the session that began December 1, 2020.

On one hand, I am surprised that we are at the beginning of another year.  On the other hand, 2020 took its good old time exiting and will, in my mind, always feel like Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War.

In March, the House passed a rule to permit remote voting, which in actuality was providing our proxy to the Whip who would then vote on our behalf.  The Whip made every effort to ensure votes were cast as the member desired, however, there was no opportunity for remarks or debate if you chose not to be on the floor of the House for votes. With the exception of 3 days where I voted remotely, I was always on the floor of the House, taking appropriate precautions, because it was vital to me that I use my voice to represent you. I do not regret the decision to be present in the Capitol and will continue that in-person participation in 2021.  Additionally, I found it vital to be present for committee meetings in order to participate in debate and share in discussion with my colleagues regarding the legislation before us.

The year is off to a decent start with the rollout of COVID-19 related vaccines.  We are not out of the woods yet, and it will be months, in my opinion, before the pandemic is behind us.  That being said, the approval of multiple vaccines provides the hope that we all need to get through the next four months or so.

Legislatively, though, we will soon be up and running for the 2021-2022 session.  Swearing in day is January 5 and our first day of session is January 11.

The PA House is comprised of 203 members, 113 from the majority party and 90 from the minority party.  I am a member of the minority party. 

I have always worked in a bi-partisan manner and believe that the development of good policy is predicated on bi-partisan input. Be assured that legislation that is vetoed by the Governor is rarely the result of a bi-partisan effort. 

During the past few years, and especially during this pandemic, I have witnessed a significant uptick in the number of citizens who are engaging in state policy discussion. I know this because instead of about 100 unanswered emails at the end of the day, the average is closer to 500 unanswered emails at the end of a day.  Earlier this year, the average unanswered emails at the end of a day were closer to 800.

Citizen engagement is encouraged and for me, heartening. The constituents of the 194th have good ideas and meaningful feedback and I do take all of your input into consideration when voting on bills. The 194th is also blessed with citizens who are willing to share their particular expertise in helping to advance meaningful legislation.

This year, I anticipate being named a minority chair of one of the House standing committees. As soon as that assignment is finalized, I will share that information with you. I have also asked to be assigned to another standing committee as a rank and file member because I thoroughly enjoy the committee work.

2021 is the year that redistricting of the state senate and representative and congressional district boundaries occurs. Despite significant work by me and a few dedicated colleagues over the past 4 years to establish an independent redistricting commission to handle this critical task, the legislature will continue to redraw these boundaries (think fox guarding the hen house).

Please know that I and thousands of our fellow citizens will be watching this process very closely and doing our best to ensure that the district boundaries are drawn to truly reflect compact, contiguous districts, keeping communities whole where possible.  The big difference between this upcoming redistricting year and 2011 is that thousands of citizens are paying closer attention and are now better informed about the polarizing, and negative impact of gerrymandering.

My commitment to you remains as follows - to dialogue on an ongoing basis to get your input, thoughts, ideas and concerns so that I may best represent you in Harrisburg. To that end, please join me at my 102nd town hall on Saturday, January 23 at 10am. We will convene via Zoom and this will also be livestreamed on Facebook.  To register for a Zoom link, please email me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net or call the office at 215-482-8726.

Cheers to a Healthy and Happy New Year.