Itâ€™s understandable that State Representatives attract harsh attention when their missteps become public. What disturbs us more, though, is that about the only time journalists take note of these grassroots politicians is when one of them gets in trouble.
Set aside for a moment the constituent service Philadelphiaâ€™s 26 State Reps provide for the humble citizens of their districts. Skip their advocacy for partisan positions. Letâ€™s focus for a moment on the chief business of lawmakers: making laws. Itâ€™s a demanding, important task that goes largely unnoticed by this cityâ€™s media, which are more attuned to crime stories.
Space is limited, so weâ€™ll start with just eight legislators who distinguish themselves day in and day out by their labors on Capitol Hill, in alphabetical order.
Louise Bishop is a veteran expert on issues of children and youth â€“ no small matter in a city 40% of whose kids live in poverty. She is the prime sponsor of 31 bills in the current legislative session.
Brendan Boyle belongs to a younger generation but has already made his mark, winning the respect of his peers. Since 2013 he has taken the lead in combating discrimination and persecution affecting many different communities.
Mark Cohen, who is Minority Chair of the State Government Committee, is a prodigious author of legislation. In the current session he has introduced 28 bills across a wide spectrum of issues, all serious business.
Angel Cruz may lead the city delegation in productiveness, having authored 32 bills since 2013. This session he has put a lot of work into issues of street-level public-safety practices â€“ significant matters in his Kensington community.
A former teacher, Jim Roebuck has headed the Education Committee of the state government â€“ which directly runs our School District, which is in crisis. Billions of dollars and 200,000 young lives are at stake here and his expertise in this complex field is admitted by all.
As the cityâ€™s only Republican in Harrisburg, John Taylor is its de facto go-to man for all sorts of urban needs now the General Assembly is controlled by his party. He heads the Liquor Control Committee â€“ a vital arena now the state-store system is facing calls for reform. An expert on urban blight, Taylorâ€™s dogged research led to the creation of the new Philadelphia Land Bank.
Ron Waters has produced 23 pieces of legislation this session. One area he has concentrated on is criminal justice and incarceration, subjects of huge importance to this city.
Rosita Youngblood is noted for her work on child protection and domestic abuse. She is Minority Chair of the Gaming Oversight Committee, where she has led efforts to steer casino revenues into property-tax relief for our citizens. Her diligent drive is why Philadelphia will enjoy the fruits of its second casino.
We eagerly await coverage by other local news media of the good things that these and other legislators do. They must be made a part of the public record.