What do resign-to-run laws do? Does Pennsylvania need them?

PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Should elected officials have to give up their seats in state government before they can run for higher office? It might seem like a simple question, but it’s a question that Pennsylvanians have been asking themselves for decades.

On Election Day that year, voters chose 102 Democrats and 101 Republicans. But the death of Tony DeLuca in October 2022 and the resignations of Summer Lee and Austin Davis after winning the senior office election means the Democrats’ tally of 102 has fallen to 99.

The Democrats may have a majority on paper, but not among the people.

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Both Democrat and Republican leaders swore in and declared majority status.

“This weirdness that we currently have about who is the speaker and who is in the majority would have been avoided if we had had a resignation law,” said Rock the Capitol’s Eric Epstein.

The idea behind the resignation laws is simple – elected officials cannot hold one office and run for another at the same time. If Pennsylvania had had a resignation law in this year’s election, Lee and Davis would have been forced to choose between running for higher office or retaining their seats in the House.

“I think we should look at this seriously. Maybe you shouldn’t be running for two offices at the same time because that’s what created this situation in the first place,” said Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County).

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However, both political parties often have elected officials running for higher positions.

Five of the six candidates in the last two Pennsylvania races were elected officials seeking higher positions.

“You can’t have a full-time job and campaign full-time at the same time. Someone loses, and the person who loses is the taxpayer,” Epstein added.

The concept of resign-to-run laws is not new. In fact, abc27 reported a story about resign-to-run laws in 2012. The author of the bill? The late Tony DeLuca.

“You shouldn’t just use it as a stepping stone to higher office,” DeLuca said. “It is unfair that incumbent elected officials can use an institutional advantage to run for higher office without risk to themselves.”

Other things to consider? The cost of special elections and the unrepresented voters until the special elections are held.

Pennsylvania’s largest city has resign-to-run laws.

“Philadelphia has it. Half of their city council just resigned, I’m not sure that was a great thing in terms of continuity of government,” said Rep. Matt Bradford (D), chair of appropriations.

Several members of the Philadelphia City Council resigned to run for mayor, an example Bradford said the rest of the state should not follow.

“They’re losing all institutional knowledge at a time when the city really needs its best and brightest,” Bradford said.

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Epstein hopes the leadership tug-of-war will shed some light on the issue.

“I think both parties, especially in the House of Representatives, see the merits of stepping down to run, given the mess we’re in,” Epstein said.

Voters in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania repealed their resignation laws in November 2022.

https://www.abc27.com/news/top-stories/what-do-resign-to-run-laws-do-does-pennsylvania-need-them/ What do resign-to-run laws do? Does Pennsylvania need them?

Brian Ashcraft

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