Pennsylvania should harvest Nebraska

Posted by By at 3 December, at 13 : 55 PM Print

Greg and Kathy Golazeski’s fledgling grassroots campaign to dissolve Pennsylvania’s Senate found its way this week to Rock The Capital’s political desk.

As the Golazeski’s put it,”the Senate has no basis in reality.”

Greg says he’s “never been more disgusted and concerned about the future” of the state. However, being a disenfranchised voter is not what actually motivated him and wife Kathy to drop their sentiments for legislative reform on incoming Republican House Speaker Sam Smith.

What The Golazeski’s are advocating is not smaller government, in fact, they oppose reducing the size of Pennsylvania’s legislature, with 253 lawmakers, it is the second largest legislative body in any state, and most expensive.

How is it possible to achieve reform by pulling the plug on the Senate, but retaining the same number of seats?

Think of something on the order of a fast food combo meal deal.

To find this deal, head west, way west; by car its about a 1,500 mile drive from Harrisburg to Lincoln.

Lincoln, of course, is the back drop for Nebraska’s Capitol, therein, lies the proven method for what the Golazeski’s have up their sleeves, “it happened in Nebraska, and it could happen here, said Greg.”

73 years ago, Nebraska took the unusual step of dissolving its legislature, when the dust settled it welcomed Unicameralism. A single chamber government that is still even after seven decades the only one of its kind in the U-S.

“As you know from watching the [Pennsylvania] Capitol on any legislation when its Bicameral, they play games. We call it mischief in our letter, where they pass different versions, knowing they will force it into a conference committee and then they wrangle it out in the conference committee sometimes without the benefit of the public being able to watch.”

When Nebraska reinvented its government in 1937, it eliminated nearly 75 percent of its legislative body leaving it with its current make-up of 49 legislators.

The Golazeski’s are not angling for downsizing seats, because, in their view, it would neither achieve savings, or much needed transparency.

Pennsylvania’s legislature will cost, according to the Democratic House Appropriations Committee, taxpayers $300,285,000 this fiscal year.

How is that a smaller legislature would carry even a higher price tag? Greg says districts would have to grow exponentially, and Lawmakers would require even larger staffs to handle the extra work erasing any chance of savings, and it would create one more unbearable consequence.

Larger districts equal more voters, which means candidates sizing up a run for office better have multiple boatloads of cash to run a successful campaign. “The bigger the districts, you are actually making barriers tend to be higher for candidates that are not hooked up to pacs or machines,” and his other deep concern is that it will make “candidates more beholden to special interests and less accountable to the people of Pennsylvania.”

Greg has first-hand experience, his career in politics started before he graduated high school; voters saw something from the start as Golazeski landed a seat on a school board.

It is not the first time the Golazeski’s have tried to serve up the Cornhusker special in Pennsylvania. Four years ago, the couple from Perkasie composed a similar letter to Governor Ed Rendell. Greg says nobody bothered to return the correspondence.

The idea, for a brief time, was tortured in the Pennsylvania legislature. In the early 1990′s, Terry Punt a former Representative and Senator sponsored a measure that would have consolidated the House and Senate in to a Unicameral Assembly. Punt, who is now deceased, told the Herald-Mail in 2008 failure to get that bill passed was the biggest, political, disappointment in his 30 year career in politics.

“We’d still have checks and balances with the legislative and executive branches,” said Punt, and all the logjams to reconciling bills in two chambers would be eliminated.

What stirred Greg and Kathy’s interest again is 13 words that Representative Smith recently uttered to a reporter,“there’s nothing magical about 203 in the House or 50 in the Senate.”

The Golazeski’s letter includes a well thought out ballot question to disband the Senate in favor of a one-house body. They even included a catchy theme,“One people, One Commonwealth, One Legislature.”

We do not know if Representative Smith sees the simplicity and efficiency the Golazeski’s are pining for as they push for singular government, that’s because Smith has been away on a hunting trip.

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