Thursday, July 28, 2005

Political smack-down

Well, voters may be up in arms about PA legislators who voted for the recent government-wide pay-hike, but party leadership is more concerned with those who voted against it: they're being stripped of committee chairs.
Fifteen House Democrats who voted against the controversial legislative pay raise were stripped of their committee leadership positions in an unusual midterm shake-up that some members viewed as payback for their "no" votes.

In a letter to House Speaker John Perzel (R., Phila.) last week, House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese announced changes in 16 House committees. Committee assignments are routinely made at the beginning of a new session, not mid-session.
. . .
In all, 12 subcommittee chairmen and three committee vice chairmen who voted against the raise were removed or demoted to secretary. One was stripped of leadership in two subcommittees. Democratic lawmakers who voted for the pay hike were moved into the higher-ranking and higher-paid positions.
In part this gives those folks an immediate $4k pay cut, but obviously its repurcussions are much wider. I find this manner of enforcing party discipline on an issue with no meaningful party lines appalling. Views from the inside?
Political analyst G. Terry Madonna said the move is not surprising in a legislature known as one of the most controlling in the country. "They do what they need to do to enforce discipline," he said.
[Rep. Greg] Vitali said the move raises legal questions.

"They are using tax dollars to entice a legislator to vote one way or another," he said. "It's not about the money, it's about leadership acting within its legal authority. My gut feeling is they have exceeded it."
Well! when you put it *that* way . . .


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