Mar. 25, 2015
– Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana) today announced the introduction of his first piece of legislation (House Resolution 191) that would restore subpoena power to all standing committees and subcommittees in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
“There are individuals employed across several different state agencies who have personally expressed their willingness to testify about potential wrongdoing, but they won’t risk their jobs to do so,” said Dush. “Making this simple change to the House rules to grant all standing committees the ability to subpoena testifiers would be a complete and total game changer. With a subpoena in hand, any state employee that finds themselves in this situation could simply turn to their boss and say, ‘I’m not going to jail for you and you cannot fire me for telling the truth.’”
Currently under House Rule 45, only the House Appropriations and Judiciary committees have subpoena power. House Resolution 191 would amend the House rules to allow all standing committees and sub-committees to issue subpoenas for testifiers in order to investigate potential waste, fraud and abuse within public bodies or public contracts. Dush’s legislation would also enable House committees to place testifiers under oath to ensure both the appearance of witnesses and to hold them fully accountable for their testimony.
“The ability of the House to give itself full subpoena authority has always been there; it simply requires the adoption of my legislation to amend the rules of the House,” said Dush. “Once this rule change is made, the failure of anyone to appear in response to a legislative subpoena or to truthfully answer questions while under oath would result in contempt of legislature or perjury charges, which carry same the weight as contempt of court and perjury charges under the laws of the Commonwealth.”
In addition, the provisions established by House Bill 191 would protect anyone subpoenaed to testify before a state House committee under Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Act and other applicable civil service protections
“By design, Pennsylvania’s Constitution has created co-equal and distinctly separate legislative, executive and judicial branches to provide checks and balances on each other,” said Dush. “For decades, the House has failed to exercise the full Constitutional authority of subpoena power through the committee process and we can do so by making this fundamental, but long overdue change, to our House rules. From the misuse of government resources to purposely misinterpreting legislation during the regulation writing process that put undue burdens on taxpayers, businesses, school districts and municipal governments, it’s time we start fulfilling our role to put a stop to these abuses that are destroying the lives and livelihoods of the citizens we serve.”
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Representative Cris Dush
66th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Ty McCauslin