Tuesday, April 07, 2009

PA: Rep. Sam Smith's New PATH keeps perks

Do these representatives not see their version of reform is never really much reform of themselves?

Cleverly called PATH, which stands for Pennsylvania’s Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg, Rep. Smith lists several proposals he claims will lead to renewed trust in PA government.

How about instead of proposals, action, even in the minority political position, any state legislator can refuse the perks, cut back the obscene pensions, and stop signing on to any and all measures which spend taxpayers' monies on any and all unconstitutional spending measures!

Right this is useful, but still gutless as unconstitutional and wasteful spending will still occur.

Increase Public Accessibility. The state would create a searchable database for all state spending.

Also see grassrootspa discussion


Net the Truth Online

House Republican Leader Says PA Govt. Must Take Right PATH
Monday, April 06, 2009

House Republicans unveil PA Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg

Saying Pennsylvania government is at a crossroads and suggesting Harrisburg should change direction in how government operates, House Republican Leader Sam Smith (R-Jefferson County) today unveiled the House Republican plan to help put state government on the right path: Pennsylvania’s Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg, or PATH.

“We stand at a crossroads to either keep going in the direction of the status quo or change paths and make substantive changes in the way our government operates,” Smith said. “For the sake of our Commonwealth’s future, I believe we have to change our ways.”

Through headlines, news stories, TV’s “investigative reports,” and the actions of several elected individuals and groups, Pennsylvanians have lost trust in much of government according to Smith. Smith acknowledged much of the public’s cynicism began with the “Pay Raise,” but he also cited recent convictions, guilty pleas and criminal charges of corruption, pay-to-play, giving cronies good-paying government jobs, and awarding political contributors with lucrative contracts as the main reason for the continuing level of distrust.

“The status quo mindset, the corruption and the general lack of good judgment must end,” Smith said. “Everything government does is suspect anymore, so cleaning up the mess must be our first step. And we need to start the ball rolling down the right path.”...

The specific proposals included in Pennsylvania’s Agenda for Trust in Harrisburg are:

No staff allowed. Staff cannot campaign for the organization for which they work during scheduled work-day hours. Using government-owned equipment would remain illegal, day or night.

No Start-ups. Public officials cannot start nonprofit organizations while in office.

Dollar 1 Reporting of campaign contributions, lobby disclosure and ethics statements; no limits or bans, just reporting each and every dollar within two weeks. The Department of State would create and maintain the cross-relational database making the information easily accessible and understandable to Pennsylvania residents.

State Grant Accountability. Fully enforce strict procedures for pre- and post-grant audits and strengthen parameters for public dollar usage. The state will create, maintain and update a database of grants – including recipients, purpose and status reports.

Increase Public Accessibility. The state would create a searchable database for all state spending.

General Assembly audits by independent auditors chosen through an RFP with the lowest responsible bidder getting the work. The audits would be available for public review.

Strengthening whistleblower protections for all state employees in all three branches of government. A fully independent Office of Inspector General (taking the place of the current Inspector General’s office) will be available to the public and employees of all branches and levels of government.
End Pay-to-Play mentality in Pennsylvania by enacting state contracting reform:
a) Emergency Contract Review – A newly created Board of Emergency Review (consisting of the Governor, Treasurer and Attorney General) must unanimously concur an emergency exists for the contract (a phone call can be utilized in case of an Emergency Declaration). Prior to entering into an emergency contract, the agency must provide a written explanation of reasons warranting an emergency contract and the specific services to be contracted for and the anticipated cost of the contract; the statement shall be delivered to the four caucuses, the treasurer, auditor general, attorney general and governor.
b) Public review of contracts. Proposed contracts must be available for public inspection for at least 10 days prior to agreement being executed (except for Board of Emergency Review contracts).
c) All Commonwealth agencies shall adhere to the state Procurement Code.
d) Ban government contracts from campaign contributors. No government contract can be awarded to a person, partnership or corporation that donated to the campaign of the state official responsible for awarding the contract within one year of the date a contract is posted for public bidding.
e) No lobby firms allowed. Firms registered as “lobbying firms” are disqualified from receiving General Assembly or governor’s office consulting contracts (does not include legal services contracts).

End lobbying relationships. No public official shall receive compensation from a firm registered as a “Lobbying Firm.”
Create an Ethical Code of Conduct for executive branch (already exists for legislative branch) employees in state government. Any new executive branch employee would be prohibited from working in an area in which they lobbied the executive branch before working for the state for two years prior to state employment. This would also restrict executive branch employees leaving state employment from lobbying that same branch of government for two years. This is similar to the policy recently imposed by President Barack Obama on federal executive branch employees.
Strengthen the state Sunshine Law and increase penalties for sunshine law violations.
Contractors subject to Ethics Act and Legislative Code of Ethics. State contractors cannot use information that is not available to the public at large which was obtained under their state contract for their private financial gain.



Lawmaker hopes to halt pay increases
A proposed bill would take away cost-of-living raises for legislators and judges
By Jacquie Tylka
Collegian Staff Writer
State Rep. Dan Moul knows that during difficult economic times, all Pennsylvanians must make sacrifices -- including those in positions like his own.

Moul, R-Adams, proposed a bill late last month that would suspend the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) that is automatically added into the salaries of the state's legislative, judicial and executive branches each year. Moul's legislation would rescind the adjustment for two years, starting with the current legislative session of 2009-10, he said.

"We in the House of Representatives understand that there are a lot of people hurting at this time with the economy the way it is," Moul said. "I feel personally that this is the wrong time to ask my neighbors to help pay for my increase in salary."


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