Pa. lawmakers vow to be legislative ‘conscience’

    The theme of this week’s inauguration in Harrisburg was Republicans taking control of Pennsylvania government.But Democratic leaders insist they’ll still have a voice during legislative debates.Republicans hold sizable majorities in the House and Senate, but House Minority Leader Frank Dermody of Allegheny County said Wednesday  that Democrats will be more than warm bodies over the next two years.”We are going to be their conscience. We’ll be the loyal minority. We’re going to fight hard, and obviously we want to work with them, too,” said Dermody. “The people expect us to work together to accomplish some things for the commonwealth. We intend to do that the best we can.”One issue that will test Democrats right away is the adultBasic health insurance plan, which covers 41,000 low-income Pennsylvanians. It’s expected to run out of money at the end of February.The Senate’s top Democrat, Jay Costa, wants to keep the program running through July so lawmakers can create a replacement program during this year’s budget negotiations.The Corbett Administration has proposed shifting adultBasic enrollees to a more expensive health care plan that provides less coverage.Costa said he also plans to mount an aggressive opposition to Republicans’ plan to sell off state-owned liquor stores.

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