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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 12, 2018 11:34 AM
From: Representative Seth M. Grove
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing Standing Oversight Committees in the House and the Senate
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, like the other 50 states and the Federal Government, is founded on a system of checks and balances. While the legislature is empowered with writing the law, the judiciary is charged with interpreting the law for its compliance with the constitution and the executive branch is charged with executing the laws. Likewise, the legislature is charged with overseeing how the executive branch implements the approved state budget and the laws of the General Assembly. Unfortunately, we have seen in recent years the executive branch in both parties ignore requested information from the General Assembly.

Due to the failure of the executive branch to respond to inquiries by members of the General Assembly, it is time to strengthen the oversight powers of the General Assembly. In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to establish Oversight Committees in both the House and Senate. The Senate Committee on Government Oversight shall consist of five members with three members being from the majority party appointed by President Pro-Tempore of the Senate. The remaining two members will be appointed from the minority. The House Committee on Government Oversight shall consist of 7 members with four members from the majority and three members from the minority.

The oversight committee in each chamber will review Commonwealth agencies at least once every seven years based on a schedule established by the Speaker of the House or President Pro-Tempore of the Senate. The Chairman of the Senate and House Committee on Government oversight shall determine the scope and subject along with the subject being review regarding the committee’s oversight. Under the proposed legislation any request for information by the oversight committee in the House or Senate must be answered under an oath of affirmation. The committee may request at their discretion a program evaluation, from the agency, which would include:
  • The program’s established goals and objectives
  • Performance criteria
  • Agency assessment of whether the program meets it objectives or goals
  • Identification of reasons the program has failed to meet its goals or objectives

    In order to guarantee compliance with the oversight committee’s request for information, the committee is given subpoena power and the ability to depose witnesses. Under this legislation, failure to comply with the committee’s oversight and subpoena would be a third-degree misdemeanor and an impeachable offense. By providing the committee this necessary subpoena power, and the subsequent penalties, the oversight committee can provide taxpayers with better oversight on how their money is used.

    Please join me and co-sponsor this legislation to strengthen the Commonwealth’s checks and balances by improving the General Assembly’s oversight of on behalf of taxpayers. Please contact Jordan Grant at jgrant@pahousegop.com if you have any questions.

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Introduced as HB2026