Democrats Are Trying to Make Democracy Work in Harrisburg

A Republican majority in the State Senate is acting as a wall for progress by blocking critical legislation passed in the Democratic-controlled House. Voters can tear down this wall in 2024.
The new members class of Democratic Pennsylvania State Representatives. which includes Brian Munroe. They are looking to expand on their majority in 2024. Photo by @pennslinger.

Pennsylvania Democrats are delivering in the State House. They are passing legislation that will boost worker pay, keep kids safer from gun violence, and protect your family, friends and neighbors from discrimination. 

These are not, by any means, partisan bills. They are common sense solutions to issues working families face, regardless of race, sexual orientation, or PA zip code. But the GOP State Senate is blocking them.  

How did we get here?

In November 2022, Pennsylvanians voted for change. Due to demographic shifts as well as the extremist MAGA agenda with respect to democracy, women’s reproductive freedom, and school censorship, the Democrats flipped 12 seats in the Pennsylvania State House, thereby achieving an unexpected 102-101 majority for the first time in 12 years. Voting mattered. And despite not having a Democratic majority in the Senate, much was accomplished.

First of all, by having a majority in the House, the Democrats were able to stop extremist MAGA legislation from ever passing in the House. They were able to ensure new restrictions on abortion were not passed. They ensured that proposals to limit public funding of health care centers that perform abortions were not passed. They ensured that any attempts to amend the state constitution to declare there is no constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortion or other rights relating to abortion would fail. They ensured that the possibility of anti-union right to work and dangerous right to carry firearms bills would never make it out of the House.

READ: Pennsylvania House Democrats Want the State Constitution to Protect Workers’ Rights to Organize and Collectively Bargain

Voting matters!

Secondly, with a PA House majority, Democrats could pass a number of bills which, although they may not become law due to the Republican Senate majority, could be very useful as bargaining chips with the opposition to ensure that critical priority legislation gets passed. This ammunition in the political arsenal would be unavailable to the Democratic governor if there was no House majority. Democracy is messy at times, but it works.

And in fact, when the Democrats had the House majority last year, a number of bills were passed that would benefit a large number of Pennsylvanians. Here are just a few of them:

HB 300, the Fairness Act, passed on May 2, 2023, with 102 Democrats voting yes and 98 Republicans voting no. This bill establishes the right to freedom from discrimination in a variety of arenas such as employment, housing, religion and more.

READ: New PA Human Relations Commission Regulations Protecting the LGBTQ Community Are a ‘Game Changer’

HB 714, Universal Background Checks, passed on May 22, 2023 with 109 bipartisan votes. This bill would establish universal background checks on all gun sales, closing a well-known loophole that allows private sellers to sell firearms without a background check, especially at gun shows.

HB 1500, Raising the Minimum Wage, passed on June 20, 2023, with 103 yes votes and 100 Republicans voting no. This bill would raise the minimum wage (after 14 years at the lowest rate in the nation of $7.25) to $11 an hour in 2024, $13 in 2025, and $15 in 2026. The wage would subsequently be tied to the consumer price index.

Here in Bucks County, we can thank these Democratic PA State House representatives for getting this legislation passed: Reps. Tina Davis, Perry Warren, Tim Brennan, Brian Munroe and recently retired Rep. John Galloway.

Thirdly, you know what to do to make these House Bills law. Contact your State Senators urging them to support these bills in the PA Senate. And in the next election, vote for candidates in both the PA House and Senate who will vote them into law. 

Democracy works! And here is how some of you can champion democracy right now: 

Due to normal attrition, the Democratic majority is now at risk. The PA State House is now deadlocked with 101 Democrats and 101 Republicans. The voters of PA District 140 (Morrisville, Tullytown, Falls and parts of Middletown Township) now have a chance to make democracy work for them. They can make history and make life better for all Pennsylvanians by electing Jim Prokopiak PA State Representative in the February 13 Special Election. Because former State Rep. John Galloway for PA-District 140 has been elected to a judicial position, if the voters elect Democrat Prokopiak, Democrats will regain the majority and will be able to continue to pass legislation to move Pennsylvania forward.

READ: Planned Parenthood PA PAC Backs Jim Prokopiak in State House Special Election

Prokopiak is an experienced leader, a former Falls Township supervisor and current Pennsbury school board member. He will fight for good paying union jobs, for fair funding of local schools, for protecting reproductive freedom and other core Democratic values. Please tell your friends about this special election.

If you vote by mail, make sure you request your ballot by February 6th if you haven’t already requested a ballot last year ( or 1-877-868-3772). If you vote in person, go to the polls between 7am and 8pm on February 13th. Vote and do your part to make history by creating a better Pennsylvania for all.

And here is a news flash from Friday, January 19, 2024 when the House Judiciary Committee passed 5 more gun safety pieces of legislation:

HB 335 – Ban on multi-burst trigger activators

HB 336 – Ban on future sales of assault weapons

HB 777 – Ban on “ghost gun” parts

HB 1157 – Mental health reporting requirements

HB 1190 – Ban on 3D-printed firearm parts

If Jim Prokopiak is elected, the full House will be able to pass these bills. If you care about gun safety and a stop to the senseless killing of our fellow-citizens, do your part to establish a Democratic House majority and elect Jim Prokopiak on February 13, 2024.

The best way to fight the foes of democracy is to participate in democracy and make it work for you. Vote in 2024! 

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Picture of Steve Cickay

Steve Cickay

Steve studied philosophy at the University of Chicago where he developed critical inquiry and writing skills that enriched all his endeavors in life. He moved with his family to Bucks County in 1985 attracted by the excellence of its public schools for his children. He spent his life in public service in the Departments of Army, Navy, Labor and Treasury in the information technology field. During retirement, he became more active in local politics as an independent activist, a Democratic Committeeperson, and a Democratic candidate for State Senate in 2014. Although he enjoys walking his rescued pitbull Hazel in the beautiful parks of Bucks County, biking and trying to run in his advancing years, his new role as a grandfather fills him with exquisite joy.

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