Dermody comments on House rule change

HARRISBURG, March 16 – House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said temporary rules adopted today by the House in response to COVID-19 concerns will make it possible for lawmakers’ votes to be recorded even if they cannot attend session in person.

“In light of the declared world pandemic and our Commonwealth’s methodical response, this is a good short-term approach to get work done in Harrisburg,” Dermody said. 

“Once we had a chance to explain our concerns to Republican leaders we were able to reach agreement,” Dermody said. “They also agreed with us there’s no value in quickly throwing together incomplete legislation in the crisis. The governor already has necessary emergency powers under the law to guide the state’s response. 

“In my view, we need to evaluate the scope of the pandemic and that will take some time,” Dermody said. “We need to be planning much more thoughtful actions that will help the state’s response, not some quick and haphazard actions that haven’t been adequately considered.”

Dermody said some areas that may see eventual legislation include:

  • paid sick leave for workers.
  • unemployment compensation for workers dislocated by the health crisis.
  • enhanced food security programs.
  • changes to school attendance requirements.
  • help for small businesses suffering the economic fallout of the crisis, as well as consumer protections.
  • special assistance for front-line health care workers who already are facing tremendous demands.

He noted the Capitol is closed to the public until further notice and there is both statewide and federal guidance restricting large gatherings.

In other action today, Rep. Roni Green took the oath of office as the new representative of the 190th District in Philadelphia.