Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Two for the Road

The road to reform in Harrisburg is long and twisted. Here's two working on making it easier to travel.

Two for the Road

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

JB: I've been thinking about reform in Harrisburg and how little of it there is and how bad the legislature is and...

BE: This again?

JB: Wait, wait. I've also been thinking that not ALL legislators are bad and that...


JB: Hear me out. Not all legislators are bad and, in fact, two of them recently reminded me of that.

BE: This oughta be good.

JB: I'm serious. Rep. Scott Conklin, a Democrat from Centre County (neither you nor anyone will remember this but he was the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor last year), has been pushing for a constitutional convention and to his credit, keeps pushing.

BE: Pushing is good.

JB: Just last week, he put out a short piece titled "Let the People Decide" that asks why all the campaign talk, including from now-Gov. Corbett, about a constitutional convention has gone away. He asks, "If we trust a jury of our peers to decide matters of life and death, why don't we trust those same people to give us recommendations on how to streamline our state government?"

BE: Good question.

JB: And over in the Senate, Sen. Dave Argall, a Republican from Schuylkill County, this week said he's again putting in a bill to reduce the size of the legislature.

BE: Excellent idea. Too bad it never goes anywhere.

JB: Well, Argall's plan looks ahead and phases in the reduction over time, suggesting that's really the only way such a bill can pass. He'd cut 50 of the 203 House members and 5 of the 50 Senators over the next four decades to save $10 million a-year.

BE: Long time to wait for savings, eh?

JB: Sure. But the point here is some lawmakers actually try to do things that should be done.

BE: Wait, didn't House Speaker Sam Smith put in a bill to reduce the legislature.

JB: After he got caught mentioning it in public. And where's it gone? If he were serious, wouldn't he push it?

BE: Be nice to have him on the road.

JB: Be nice to have them all on the road.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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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