Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New PA legislators sworn in

Big day today in Harrisburg.  The new members of the State House and State Senate are sworn in, the Republicans officially become the majority in the House, and Rep. Mike Turzai, a former Allegheny County prosecutor, takes over as House majority leader. 

The Inquirer lays out the abundant challenges facing Turzai and the new legislature, including a looming $4 billion budget deficit.  The first question that brings to mind is whether the Legislature will even consider fixing Pennsylvania's broken prison system, or continue throwing away money ($800 million in the next two years, plus $150 million annually in maintenance) on prisons that are overcrowded as soon as they are built?

There are, of course, plenty of other questions in our minds at the ACLU: Will we be fighting yet another effort to write discrimination against same-sex couples into the state Constitution?  Will Pennsylvania adopt anti-immigration laws modeled on Arizona's, as some legislators have proposed?  What new approaches will we see to deny reproductive health care and science-based sex education to young Pennsylvanians?

For now we can only wait and see.  As the ACLU we'll continue to work with legislators on both sides of the aisle, as we have in the past, to shape pending legislation and lobby on behalf of the Constitution and civil liberties.

Labels: , ,