More Legislators Endorse Con Con

Member Group : Democracy Raising PA

Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, is the latest lawmaker to sign the petition for a Constitution convention referendum this fall. Also, here are more candidates who have signed the petition:

• Jonathan Jenkins, a Republican running against Rep. Tim Hennessee, R-Chester

• John Wieczorek, a Democrat running for the open seat of retiring Speaker Keith McCall, D-Carbon.

• Jason Petrella, a Democrat running against Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver.

Per Diems: Open This, Part 2

In December we were able to report on per diems received by our state Senators. These are payments lawmakers receive when they are in session. Ostensibly available to cover travel expenses, for most lawmakers they are a second, largely tax-free salary for which they need not turn in receipts. Click here for that edition of DR News.

Per diems have become a campaign issue in some parts of the state. Click here for an article from The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre.

This time we are able to report on how much money members of the House received in per diems in 2009. A DR fan provided us with the information received from the House Chief Clerk’s Office. Once again, it was provided in a particularly unfriendly manner – 1,273 pages in pdf format of individual payments to individual lawmakers but with no totals, either for each lawmaker or for the House as a whole.

Click here for the member totals, ranked from low to high. Click here for background about per diems and a spreadsheet that includes separate payment dates for each member and each per diem.

If you don’t see your representative on this list, it’s because the House Chief Clerk’s Office did not report any per diems for 23 representatives. This may be because your representative lives too close to the capitol to collect per diems (50-mile radius), or it may be that your representative has chosen not to collect them for some reason. The best way to find out is to ask him or her.
In short, the House paid a total of $3,034,394.01 in per diems to 180 members. The average amount of per diems received was $16,858. The median amount was $17,008. Here are the highs and lows:

Below $5,000

Mark Keller, R-Perry * $218.00
Dan Moul, R-Adams * $316.00
John Payne, R-Dauphin * $414.00
Lewis Chris Ross, R-Chester $429.00
Susan Helm, R-Dauphin* $438.00
Staley Saylor, R-York* $486.00
Nicholas Micarelli, R-Delaware $958.00
Eugene DePasquale, D-York* $979.00
Robert Kauffman, R-Franklin $2,972.00
James Cox, R-Berks $4,960.00
David Argall, R-Schuylkill** $4,990.00

* These members live within 50 miles of the capitol and therefore do not qualify for full per diems.

** This represents just three months in 2009 before he was elected to the Senate.

Above $25,000
Joseph Brennan, D-Northampton $25,008.00
Tim Solobay, D-Washington $25,135.00
Mark Longietti, D-Mercer $25,160.00
Dick Hess, R-Bedford $25,162.00
Kathy Rapp, R-Warren $25,374.00
Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny $25,478.00
John Evans, D-Philadelphia $25,537.00
Thomas Caltagirone, D-Berks $26,410.00
Joe Petrarca, D-Westmoreland $26,606.00
Richard Geist, R-Blair $27,354.00
Michael O’Brien, D-Philadelphia $27,632.00
Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne $27,688.00
Christopher Sainato, D-Lawrence $27,831.00
John Galloway, D-Bucks $31,133.00
Mark Cohen, D-Philadelphia $31,473.00
H. William DeWeese, D-Greene $36,051.00
Robert B. Mensch, R-Bucks*** $37,784.00
*** This does not include per diems after his election to the Senate in September 2009.

Now’s Your Chance

If this strikes you as a good place for the legislature to start saving money, there’s someone you can tell about it. The Senate Government Management and Cost Study Commission is looking for ideas between now and the end of June, which is supposed to be when the state budget is finished. Email the commission at [email protected] , and click here for an amusing column by John Baer in the Philadelphia Daily News.

A New Reality

We don’t have to settle for whatever government lawmakers, judges and governors want to give us.

1. Click here to sign the petition for a referendum on a Constitution convention.
2. Forward this edition of DR News to others and ask them to sign the petition.
3. Donate to keep the pressure on.

A new reality is up to us, because only we
can keep democracy rising!

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