New caucus aims for good government reforms in Pa. Legislature

    A new reform-minded group of Pennsylvania lawmakers is launching what might be called an experiment in organized optimism. And, already, 36 lawmakers have signed on.

    For two years, state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-Chester County, has been on a mission to ban per diems. They’re the flat payments most lawmakers can collect to cover expenses incurred while engaged in legislative duties.

    “People worry about, if they co-sponsor my bill, are they going to take abuse from colleagues who don’t think it’s a good idea?” Truitt said. “It’s a touchy subject.”

    Other similarly touchy bills die every session in the Senate and House party caucuses.

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    The new bipartisan caucus dedicated to government reform aims to unite those disparate efforts. It’s the brainchild of state Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Dauphin.

    “If leadership hears the same message in both chambers from members of both parties, there will be momentum toward moving some of these bills,” he said.

    It’s one thing to be a caucus intending to block legislation, but advancing legislation requires help from committee chairs and floor leaders.

    Teplitz says he thinks they’ll be receptive if they see the government reform caucus grow. The group is drafting a measure to ban lawmakers from accepting gifts and promoting bills to put an end to legislators’ automatic annual pay raises.

    At last count, the caucus had 12 state senators and 24 state representatives from both parties.

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