from State Senator Katie Muth • 44th Senatorial District • Winter 2019 newsletter (download here)
My first year in Harrisburg has been a learning experience, as well as a great motivator. I am grateful for our team in the SD44 office, as well as the staff in Harrisburg, who work hard to ensure we have thorough research on policy to create gold-standard legislation. I was elected to serve the people of the 44th, but the issues impacting our communities are the same across the Commonwealth.
One of my frustrations with government is the slow pace of the legislative process. Many of the bills passed not only should’ve been passed long ago, but also lack substance to allow for true change. I worked hard to add 21 amendments to many bills to improve mediocre, or sometimes harmful bills, but all of them were voted down and failed to pass, on party line votes.
Another frustration is the legislative calendar. A legislator could introduce the most impactful, helpful bill that could change the lives of many for the better, and that bill will never be voted out of committee to be brought to the floor for a vote because the majority party of both the House and Senate decide which bills are added to the legislative calendar in each chamber. I am hopeful to work with some of my colleagues to change the Senate rules to allow for a true democratic process.
While some legislation passed this past year that will help some, most of these bills will not be implemented into law for quite some time. For example, the minimum wage bill SB 79, will not result in its full increase of $9.50 until 2022, and even then, the bill failed to raise the wage to an impactful amount that is anywhere near a livable wage. It costs $59,340 for a family of four to afford basic needs in Pennsylvania. Low wage jobs are harmful and limit our economic progress.
Another example, statute of limitations reform was passed in the form of a constitutional amendment, which takes at least another three years to become law, instead of a statutory change which could’ve become law immediately, after signed by the Governor. The constitutional amendment route will delay justice and healing for survivors of sexual abuse. Further, this bill did not apply to adult victims of sexual violence, but I will continue to fight for true justice and healing for ALL survivors with a full elimination of the statute of limitations for all victims and protections to help prevent people from becoming victims in the future.
As we head into 2020, I plan to introduce legislation to require transparency with judicial appointments, use of tax dollars within the Senate, and additional oversight that eliminates internal policing. Also, stay tuned for some new plans to implement tax justice initiatives! If you have any other ideas, please contact my office to submit feedback! Working together is the most effective way to make real change.
We will continue to fight for fairness and a level playing field in Pennsylvania. We need real, meaningful reform that creates and advances progress and economic security. We need to make government work for the people, not special interests or the well-connected. It’s an honor to represent you and thank you for supporting me.