Pennsylvania General Assembly Scorecard

Capitol rotunda Harrisburg

Courtesy Joan Wilson

 

Click here to see how your elected officials voted (revised 10-29-2010)

This Scorecard reports the votes of Pennsylvania Senate and House members on key environmental issues addressed during the 2009-2010 session of the General Assembly. Legislative sessions in Pennsylvania run for two years, after which all bills that were not enacted automatically die, and will need to be reintroduced in the next General Assembly, which will convene in January, 2011.

During a typical two-year legislative session, the 203 Representatives introduce more than 4,000 bills and resolutions, and the 50 Senators introduce nearly 2,000. Of these, the vast majority, more than 90% fail to pass at least one of the Chambers and die. Those that see action may have amendments added in Committee or on the floor of one or both Chambers.

Sierra Club and Clean Water Action believe that the public has the right to know how their elected officials vote on matters related to the environment and public health, and that those officials should be held accountable for their actions. We have reviewed the actions of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and have identified a number of votes that involved important environmental decisions. In some cases, we selected votes that were controversial. In some cases, we chose votes that achieved near unaniminity to recognize significant legislative action. In some cases, we considered an amendment vote more defining that a final passage vote.

The issues covered in this chart are as far-ranging as the environmental community. They include: alternative energy and energy efficiency, Marcellus Shale drilling, clean water rules, environmental funding, recycling and waste disposal, and confirmation votes for DEP and DCNR Secretary. While not every environmental or conservation organization may have worked on all of these issues, there was environmental debate on all the controversial votes. In some cases, a bill passed one Chamber, but environmental opposition prevented it from passing the other Chamber. In some of these instances, an acceptable alternative was found, which then passed both Chambers easily.

In addition to voting, legislators can impact environmental policy through non-voting actions. This Scorecard selected important environmental regulations and proposed legislation that may not have had a floor vote. However, legislators demonstrated their support or opposition for pro-environmental policies through co-sponsorship of legislation or through writing to regulatory bodies.