LETTER: Democracy is broken in Pennsylvania

Carol Stowell
FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, file photo shows the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

For the past three months I have made bi-monthly trips to Harrisburg to talk with our state legislators about democracy. It’s not easy to sit down for long conversations with legislators — many of whom are trained to distract and deflect. However, I made the trip because I believe that democracy is broken in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is one of only nine states with no limitations on what kinds of gifts lobbyists can give our legislators. We are the fifth most corrupt state in the country, according to the Electoral Integrity Project.

I learned that over the past 10 years the gas industry has spent $69.6 million to lobby our state representatives, and Big Pharma has spent $880 million nationwide and employs 82 lobbyists in our Capitol.

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Our team of nonpartisan, citizen lobbyists spoke about five pieces of nonpartisan democracy reform: Bills that would ban bribery by placing common-sense limitations on what lobbyists can gift our legislators, end gerrymandering by creating an Independent Redistricting Commission, and make voting more accessible by allowing for same day voter registration, semi-open primaries, and no-excuse absentee ballots.

We know our legislators do not want to give up their perks and so we will be marching from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, and when we arrive May 6 we have a planned civil action to demand a vote on our bills. Visit our website www.mohpa.org to learn more and join us. Especially when it is not easy, our democracy is worth fighting for.