What we're talking about right now
ISSUE: Responsible, Responsive, Fair and Transparent Government
We want a government that sees its first responsibility to be the protection of its citizens, homeowners, natural resources and the environment we all share. We believe governing bodies must put homeowner and citizen safety first - before the concerns for corporate profit.
A government should be accountable to the people and protect “equality and freedom and our associated human rights”.
The well-being of the community, its safety, the environment in which it exists, even the representative government can be viewed as assets owned by the public, therefore the public has a right to have its communal needs addressed. In representing the people, government must maintain a high standard of ethical behavior. Simply being lawful is not necessarily being right or ethical. Citizens have a duty to monitor the actions of the government and to speak up when there is an appearance of unethical conduct. For example, candidates for public office and officials should not accept campaign contributions and favors from industries that they must then regulate as a responsibility of their office once elected or appointed. UHoP is committed to mobilizing its members when their collective voice needs to be heard.
A prime responsibility of State and local governments is the protection of individual rights and freedom. A concern with economic development is appropriate and important, but those concerns and a concern for corporate profits do not trump a concern for individuals, home-owners and citizens of Pennsylvania.
UHoP believes that State government must put homeowner and citizen safety and well-being first. It is appalling to realize that any industry would seek - or any state government would preempt - local zoning and take away from local communities the right to regulate land use for the safety of their citizens and homeowners. (It took the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to save Pennsylvania homeowners and communities from that debacle.) State government should require that those who create environmental risk - such as putting water supplies at risk - be held accountable and responsible for the risk they create whether it be in the present or future.
Local Authorities and Special Districts
All states have the constitutional and statutory respons-ibility to "establish mechanisms by which local government are created". Pennsylvania has made wide use of the "Municipal Authority" as a device to finance and construct facilities , operate services, and perform functions that general purpose government does not want to carry out directly. The result has been a plethora of Authorities and a fragmentation of local government. A Municipal Authority is “an independent agency of the Commonwealth, a part of the Commonwealth’s sovereignty”, yet there is little documentation of formal policies to monitor the procedures and actions of these entities in Pennsylvania. Judicial review seems to be the only recourse. Municipal Authorities have exclusive authority to set rates for services without review or negotiation. The only consumer or citizen protection is the statutory requirement that the rates be “reasonable and uniform.” The Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Act does not articulate oversight or monitoring procedures. Further, Authority boards are appointed rather than elected - with no accountability to the citizens they serve. The only customer or citizen appeal is to the Courts of Common Pleas.
UHoP supports the position that the Municipal Authorities Act must be revised to protect customers from unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious actions - to provide more citizen recourse - to place more responsibility with the creating municipality for the actions of authorities they have created - more accountability of the Authority to the creating municipality - and required public notice of rates with public hearings and ratification by the elected governing board of the creating municipality. The Attorney General should be charged with the responsibility to investigate complaints. . Homeowner customers should have access to arbitration and damage awards as well as access to the courts.
Right of Initiative and Referendum
The Pennsylvania Constitution does not provide for citizen initiated issues or referendums to be placed upon the State ballot to be approved or disapproved. The General Assembly must give that privilege to citizens. Citizens in most other states do have that privilege.
It is possible that the Pennsylvania Initiative and Referendum Amendment will appear on the November 2016 Pennsylvania ballot as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment allowing - with sufficient petition signatures and ratifications by sufficient Counties - for citizen initiated issues to be put on the State ballot.
UHoP wants government that is effective, cost-conscious, responsive, accountable and ethical. Pennsylvania should be a leader in avoiding the appearance of corruption. These processes should be seen as good government, good ethics, good policy and good law.
PROPOSED UHoP ACTION:
HOW YOU CAN HELP: