Here we go again.
Just as we begin deliberations on some of Pennsylvania's most pressing issues, Republican leaders in the General Assembly have chosen to place their political party above the interests of Pennsylvanians.
Last year, it was the sham voter ID law. This year, we have a brand-new effort to rig presidential elections.
Senate Bill 538, sponsored by a gang of 13 Republican state senators, would distribute 18 of Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes proportionally based on how presidential candidates performed statewide. The remaining two electoral votes would be awarded to the overall winner.
Pennsylvania, like most states, has always used a "winner take all" system for presidential electoral votes, where the winner of the most votes receives all 20 electoral votes. Moving to a proportional system would dilute the electoral tally of the winning candidate, eliminate Pennsylvania's prized status as a swing state, and help Republican candidates gain electoral votes they did not earn.
It's worth noting that similar schemes in other states -- including Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida -- failed to gain the support of their Republican governors. It's clear that Republican leaders in Pennsylvania are out of step with their colleagues nationally.
In fact, the Senate Republican bill stands in stark contrast to the National Popular Vote movement, which would effectively end the Electoral College without the need for a constitutional amendment.
Under the National Popular Vote plan, Pennsylvania would join a compact of states pledging all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. When enough states join the compact, bringing with them enough electoral votes to be a majority of the Electoral College, all compact states would cast their electoral votes for the winner of the national popular vote.
The National Popular Vote plan is the only true way of ensuring the winner of the popular vote is guaranteed to win the presidency.
The Senate Republican scheme is more than just sour grapes after President Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by some 300,000 votes. It is a Republican power grab of the highest order.
This gang of 13 senators -- the dirty baker's dozen -- is attempting to do nothing less than steal the office of president of the United States.
Talk about twisted priorities.
While Republican leaders scheme new ways to rig elections, there are real issues facing Pennsylvania that demand immediate attention.
We have a massive funding crisis -- to the tune of more than $4 billion -- for repairing, maintaining and modernizing our crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems.
We have a stubbornly high unemployment rate -- among the highest in the nation -- with at least a half-million Pennsylvanians unable to find work.
We have a public school system that is underfunded by nearly $1 billion, thanks to the devastating budget cuts imposed by Gov. Tom Corbett and his Republican allies.
We have an opportunity to take advantage of billions of dollars in federal money to insure more than a half-million Pennsylvanians by expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act.
We have a thriving state lottery that Corbett is attempting to outsource to the United Kingdom at the expense of older Pennsylvanians who rely on the lottery to fund critical senior programs.
It's clear that Pennsylvania is not lacking in the crisis department. Yet the Republican Party, which controls the governor's office and both chambers of the state Legislature, is instead obsessed with stealing the presidential election at any cost.
The people of Pennsylvania deserve better than self-serving partisan scheming from their elected officials.
It's time for Pennsylvania's Republican leaders to get their priorities straight.
People should be our priority, not our political party.
-- State Rep. Frank Der mody serves as Democratic leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He represents the 33th Legis lative District in Allegheny County. State Rep. Mike Hanna serves as Democratic whip of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. He represents the 76th Legis lative District in Clinton and Centre counties.