Monday, February 8, 2016

Play it, Sam

House Speaker Sam Smith is playing our song!

Play it, Sam


(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Do you hear it, boss? House Speaker Sam Smith is playing our song.

BE: Fly Eagles Fly?

JB: No. The veteran Punxsutawney lawmaker, son of Snuffy (I'm not making this up, his father "Snuffy" Smith, was a lawmaker before him), is introducing a bill to cut the size of the state House from 203 to 153. It is, appropriately, House Bill 153.

BE: That makes Sam Smith the author of the greatest document since William Penn's charter. Smaller legislature, less cost, less staff, more efficiency, hallelujah!

JB: Amen, brother. Sam says he's got 59 bipartisan co-sponsors so far and when I ask him what he thinks his chances are, he says if he can get it to the floor, "I think it will pass."

BE: It's a miracle.

JB: Hold that reform-minded thought. It's a process. Because it requires amending the state constitution, it requires passage in two successive sessions of both chambers of the Legislature then a statewide voter referendum. AND Sam says it's targeted for after the next census for redistricting purposes.

BE: So we're talking about something that can't happen until 2020 at the earliest.

JB: 2020. Perfect vision.

BE: I know lawmaking is like making sausage, but this is more like molasses.

JB: There really is no other way. And those voting on it, as soon as this fall for the first time, likely will be more inclined to support it precisely because it's so far off.

BE: Yeah. But many will be erasing the seats their sons and daughters would hold. I mean you think Snuffy would have voted for this back then? We'd have no Sam.

JB: Ah, but we do. And I give Sam credit. He tossed this idea out last year after Republicans won control of the House. Now he's following through with it.

BE: Lots can happen between now and a vote or two votes.

JB: Like much in life, it all depends on just what transpires as time goes by.

BE: Play it, Sam.

JB: Grrr.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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