Legislative reforms taking shape in Harrisburg

    Newly installed Pennsylvania State House leaders are pushing reform measures for the chamber. A committee of top House Republicans and Democrats has begun negotiating rules changes requiring members to provide more documentation when they apply for reimbursement to cover costs incurred in Harrisburg or on the road.Lawmakers won’t be turning in all their receipts, but Republican Majority Leader Mike Turzai said Wednesday the guidelines are a step in that direction.  “The goal is to get to more accountability. And to institute policies that will show a resultant drop in overall expenditures on per diems.” he said.  “If we take this session and compare it to what it was in 09-10, you’re going to see a significant reduction.” The proposed rules would also require members to contribute one percent of their salaries to health-care costs. Legislators don’t pay anything toward those costs under the current system. Leaders also want to move away from leasing state-owned cars to representatives. Instead, lawmakers would be reimbursed for mileage on private vehicles. That shift might be trickier to negotiate, since many lawmakers are already in the middle of car leases. Top Republicans concede they’ll likely allow current leases to run their course before shifting over to a reimbursement system. The committee in question is made up of the house speaker, as well as each party’s leader and whip. The lawmakers met Wednesday morning, but haven’t finalized the rules language. It’s unclear when that will happen.

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