I was wondering if anyone knew what the holdup for HB 1393 was. I know it was referred to the HHS committee on 4/30, but I'm wondering if we have any idea what the holdup is there? I did a little research to try to figure it out for myself and this is why I'm so confused. First I read up on the legislative process here in PA, and this is what I found concerning post-committee referal:
"In practice, the majority chairman controls the flow of legislation through his or her committee. It is the chair¬man who generally calls meetings, decides which bills merit public hearings, and sets the voting agenda. Committee members may force the consideration of any bill by majority vote, but this is rarely done. At a minimum, the majority chairman usually can count on the support of his party's committee members on procedural matters." - from a book chapter on the Pennsylvania General Assembly by Michael R. King and Michael E. Cassidy, Copyright, King and Cassidy, 1993
So the majority chairman of the HHS committee is Frank Oliver (D) of the 195th district (Philadelphia). From what I've heard, MMJ has a big following in Philly, isn't it? So his constituents are probably for it. On top of that I looked him up on votesmart.org and check out his "Political Courage Test" (Survey that they can take to show their support on issues) and I see this:
Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health.
X g) Support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.
So the majority chairman, who controls the flow of legislation through the HHS, represents a part of Philly (where the constituents support MMJ), and indicated in the Pennsylvania State Legislative Election 2008 Political Courage Test that he supports MMJ, is handed a bill concerning medical marijuana, and it's just sitting there. Why?
It's not because they're doing more important things. I checked out what they've done in their past few meetings. Here are some of the highlights:
06/24/2009 House Resolution 294 - Report Bill As Amended - Designates May 2009 as "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Awareness Month"
06/24/2009 House Resolution 294 - Adopt Amendment - July 4, 2009, marks the 70th anniversary when Lou Gehrig made his famous farewell speech at Yankee Stadium.
06/10/2009 House Resolution 286 - Report Bill As Committed - The Commonwealth endorses the efforts of the Shriners Hospitals for Children in dealing with a budget shortfall.
and trust me, these meetings weren't bogged down with lots of other activity pushing MMJ to the back burner (all of that info btw, from the PA House's website: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/cteeInfo.cfm?body=H&cde=20
They've been more concerned with the budget crisis? Fine... but why hasn't anyone suggested an amendment to the bill for higher taxes on MMJ? It already establishes a regular sales tax on MMJ purchases. With some state workers not being paid and state funding for programs being dropped; MMJ (and subsequent taxation) is very relevant in any discussion dealing with the budget gap.
This small excerpt from the same book I cut a passage from earlier:
"Most committees take no action on the majority of bills referred to them. Committees generally do not report out bills that have little chance of passage. The chairman or committee members informally may judge a bill to be impractical from a fiscal or administrative standpoint, or a bill may run counter to the substantive or political position of the majority caucus or a powerful chairman. Or a bill may not be considered because the prime sponsor simply did not ask the chairman to consider it."
Does it have little chance of passage outside of the committee? It can't be the impractical from a fiscal or admin standpoint. Is it not being brought up because of another chairperson? Did someone drop the ball? Do we even know what was holding it there prior to the august break? In lieu of anyone actually knowing
, anyone have any intelligent theories?