State Rep. Pam DeLissio took to Twitter on Wednesday afternoon to express disappointment in the Pa. State House’s decision to delay the adjournment of the day’s session hours before the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah was set to begin.
“Short of an Armageddon being upon us, you would not see us in session on the 23rd of December,” she said in an interview with NewsWorks.
According to DeLissio, the House convened an hour earlier than usual — at 10 a.m. — Wednesday to ensure a timely dismissal for members and staff who needed to head home from Harrisburg in time for the holiday.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m. — the “drop-dead” time the House had expected to adjourn by — DeLissio says “it became clear we were nowhere near wrapping up.”
At that time, state Rep. Dan Frankel of the Pittsburgh area initiated a motion to adjourn.
Steve Miskin, spokesperson for state House Speaker Sam Smith, said more time was spent on the motion to adjourn than it would have taken to allow the two remaining speakers and a vote to take place.
The House was voting on a bill to reduce the state’s debt on Wednesday.
“We had a packed schedule with some very heavy duty stuff,” said DeLissio. “The fact that we had to have a debate over adjournment is not a point of pride for this body.”
In the third of a set of three tweets, DeLissio noted, “If we continue with session we are forcing Jewish members to possibly take leave and miss votes. This disenfranchises their constituents.”
“We were scheduled to leave early and we did leave early,” says Miskin, who added the House has met on the eves of various holidays including Thanksgiving.
According to House documentation of the session, members were dismissed at 3:25 p.m.
DeLissio, while not observing the holiday herself, says that going forward the House’s schedule “needs to be such that it ends with a sufficent and reasonable amount of time for members to get back to their home district and participate accordingly,” adding that the drive can be up to three hours for some.