Pennsylvania House adopts ‘Rozzi Rules’
New House rules aim to minimize hyper-partisanship
HARRISBURG, March 1 – State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, reformed the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ operating rules under his “Rozzi Rules,” which the House adopted today.
Rozzi’s platform for speakership was a promise to operate the House independently, ensuring that both sides are heard and have a fair chance to run their bills. He accomplished this in the rules he drafted by changing how committees operate and their composition as well as streamlining the constitutional amendment process.
Committee changes include the process to discharge a bill and committees’ bipartisan makeup. Under these rules, no committee chair will have the sole ability to stop a good bill with bipartisan support from being considered or allow a bill to bounce between different committees indefinitely. The minority party will also have a larger presence on all standing committees with a 12-9 split. The House Appropriations Committee will have a 22-15 split. Furthermore, any minority committee chair is entitled to invite at least one testifier to hearings.
“House committees play a major role in what pieces of legislation receive a full House vote. By re-evaluating how they operate, who serves on them and the powers they have, it can drastically change what bills make it into the House chamber, and ultimately to the governor,” Rozzi said. “These new rules are a significant improvement from decades prior, ensuring that both sides have a greater chance to be heard.”
Rozzi’s rules also change how constitutional amendments can be introduced. Constitutional amendments must pertain to only one subject, include at least one public hearing by a House committee before passage and can only appear on the ballot during fall municipal/general elections, never in lower-turnout spring primaries.
“Sometimes, constitutional amendments are introduced in an attempt to side-step the legislative process,” Rozzi said “These new rules ensure that the amendment process doesn’t get abused as it has in the past and the maximum number of voters are heard on these important measures.”
Lastly, the new House rules expand protections against harassment and discrimination, ensuring that anyone who deals with House members in their official capacity may file complaints, not just House members and House employees.
“These new rules benefit both parties, voters and anyone who conducts business with the House. I’m immensely grateful that the ‘Rozzi Rules’ were adopted today and can immediately be utilized to improve our lawmaking process,” Rozzi said.