Mining for reform in House letters

Posted by By at 1 December, at 12 : 42 PM Print

Dwight Evans stripped of his leadership position two weeks ago as the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, is cozying up to HouseRepublicans. On the surface, it sure seems that way.

Evans penned what at first glance is seemingly a syrupy letter to incoming Republican House Speaker Sam Smith, “congratulations to you on being named Speaker-designee and to the House Republicans for their recent electoral gains.”

In the two-page memo obtained by Rock The Capital, that some might characterize as pandering, Evans goes on to tell Smith he is all for reform.

“In recent weeks, I [Evans]was gratified to read your comments about reforms to the legislature and pleased to see that positive editorials followed your comments. As you know, I spoke out on this very issue in the last several legislative sessions.”

Representative Smith is away on a hunting trip and has not seen the letter. His spokesperson Steve Miskin digested it for Smith, “I can’t speculate to what his [Evans] intentions are, we can’t just go by his words.”

Evans laid out the rhyme behind his reason, the letter, Evans says, is a historical reminder intended to jog Smith’s memory.

“Before you question my motive you should look at my record,” said Evans.

In 2007, Evans sponsored a bill to create a citizen’s commission to review Pennsylvania’s Constitution and propose changes. Forging a blueprint for future constitutional convention delegates. House Bill 1179 went down in flames in committee. Evans knows the vote like the back of his hand : 82 Democrats were on board along with just one Republican, and Sam Smith was not the crossover vote.

“Sam never helped me,” said Evans, “I am the only one in 30 years that had tried to have a commission established.”

Republican Represenative Curt Schroder voted against Evan’s proposed reform bill describing it as simply a “stall and delay tactic.”

Schroder, plenty familiar with Evan’s letter, penned his own memo and dispatched it to Evans’. Schroder declined to release it to RTC, but we got a general impression of the lines in-between the salutation and the “sincerely.”

Scrhoder telling us, “reform really starts in your heart. You have to be willing to move the legislative process in a responisble, and open manner that is accountable.”

The bill Evans attempted to engineer, Schroder said would have put the power of Constitutional change  in the hands of an elite few. “If I was convinced he was sincere and it was not going to be a study group made up of existing judges, and power players I would take another look.”

Evans is nonplussed by anyone who labels him insincere about pushing reform. Reiterating “before you question my motive look at my record.”

Rock The Capital asked Schroder if he believed the atmosphere is ripe enough to push a convention forward. “If we had a governor that was ready to push it and use some political capital, but I don’t believe we are any closer.”

Evans can not readily see the day when Pennsylvania will have a Constitutional Convention but, “we should have the debate and discussion.

You can read Dwight Evan’s letter to the Speaker-designee on Rock The Capital.

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