Position Papers

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AMENDING THE STATE CONSTITUTION WOULD GERRYMANDER JUDICIAL DISTRICTS

(January 25, 2021)

To my valued constituents, I am writing concerning House Bill No. 196, the proposal to amend the state constitution to change our process of electing judges to the Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme courts of Pennsylvania. Right now, our constitution provides for these judges to be chosen in statewide elections where all voters in the state get to hold judges accountable. The authors of House Bill No. 196 seek to change this to a district-based system wherein judicial elections would be divided into districts. The proponents of this bill argue it would increase the diversity of our judicial system by ensuring representation for the less populous areas of the state. I support having a diverse array of interests and identities represented on the bench. However, it is clear to me this is not the way to accomplish that goal; in fact, this bill poses a grave threat to the independence of our judiciary. The process of drawing these districts as proposed in this bill is fundamentally political and arbitrary, as it would fall entirely on the General Assembly. I have little doubt that diversity will not be the primary concern of the majority party when drawing these districts. Instead, the districts will be politicized and gerrymandered to maximize the influence of whichever party happens to control the General Assembly at the time. Further, there is no guarantee that the creation of these districts will increase the diversity of the Read more

 
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NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT WILL ENSURE EVERY VOTE COUNTS

(March 3, 2021)

To my valued constituents,I have decided after some deliberation to co-sponsor House Bill No. 270, and support Pennsylvania’s membership in the National Popular Vote Compact. I believe this is a necessary step on the way to ensuring a national election system that fairly and truly represents all Americans. As Americans, we hold the principle of one person, one vote to be one of our highest ideals of governance, and it is time we once again take a meaningful and confident step in the direction of realizing this ideal, just as we did with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and before then with passage of the 19th amendment. For too long, our presidential elections have been decided by a system that systematically disenfranchises intra-state minorities and determines a national election, in which all Americans should have an equal voice, on a state-by-state basis, in which the voices of political minorities within a state count for nothing. However, I recognize that some constituents will disagree and contend that the electoral college is a just system. So, I will try to address some of the arguments here. The first argument often proposed for the electoral college is that it empowers small states that would otherwise be overlooked by presidential candidates. However, if this was the aim of the current electoral system, it has failed miserably. Small states are still by and large overlooked by presidential candidates, who often focus their efforts... Read more

 
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Position Paper: Governor Wolf's Proposed Budget

(February 23, 2021)

Governor Wolf’s budget contains three key proposals: Fairer funding of the Commonwealth’s public schools, a gradual minimum wage increase, and a more progressive tax structure. While I believe some modifications are needed, I support these three approaches in general, because together they provide opportunity for working people. Dismantling barriers to basic educational and income opportunities is central to boosting our economy, strengthening our families, and improving the resilience of our communities and our country. I will continue to fight for all families and our small businesses as long as I serve in the General Assembly. Read more

 
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Congressional Term Limits

(June 2, 2021)

The idea of congressional term limits is appealing to many Americans, and it’s not hard to see why. Members of Congress have about a 95% re-election rate despite the American public broadly disapproving of Congress in the aggregate. Incumbents have little incentive to engage constructively with their constituents under these circumstances, since their seats are already largely safe. However, I do not think congressional term limits are the solution. By themselves, they solve few of these problems, since incumbents who have not reached their term limit will still be just as likely to be re-elected, and the nature of partisan gerrymandering means that most districts will remain uncompetitive even if we instituted term limits tomorrow. On top of this, it will also create the new problem of eliminating much of the institutional knowledge and experience that is acquired with years of service, while limiting good politicians who have the bona fide support of their constituents to only a few terms. In my view, we need a renewed focus on eliminating the structural factors that give incumbents an undue advantage and make them less accountable to the people. Chief among these are partisan gerrymandering and access to campaign finance. Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing districts so as to maximize your party’s dominance, and it has markedly reduced the competitiveness of congressional districts. Before 1978, according to a study by the Political Studies Read more