Pennsylvania House Dems Propose New Expulsion Rules After Remote Voting by Lawmaker

Pennsylvania House Democrats have suggested a plan to assess if state representatives are “incapacitated” and to take action against them, such as sanctions or expulsion. This comes after facing strong criticism when one of their members voted remotely while being sought on charges of violating a restraining order.

The resolution, proposed by Majority Leader Matt Bradford from Montgomery County, suggests creating a new group of five House leaders. This group would be responsible for assessing whether a representative is physically or mentally impaired and unable to carry out their duties.

The proposed rules change is a response to the voting that took place during this week’s legislative session. State Rep. Kevin Boyle, a Philadelphia Democrat, is facing an arrest warrant for allegedly violating a restraining order. There is no information available about the warrant, and Boyle has not replied to any phone messages seeking comment that were left on Thursday and earlier this week.

Officer Tanya Little, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Police, said on Thursday afternoon that Boyle is not currently in custody. In February, Boyle lost his position as committee chairman and his access to the Capitol after a video showed him behaving rudely and appearing intoxicated at a bar in Montgomery County.

Boyle’s status is important because it will affect the balance of power in the House, which currently has 102 Democrats and 100 Republicans. There will be a special election next week to fill the vacancy in a district that tends to lean Republican, located in the Pocono Mountains.

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Republican leaders are criticizing Boyle’s ability to vote remotely. They believe that House Democrats should have put Boyle on leave instead. They accuse the Democrats of allowing Boyle to vote remotely in order to maintain their slim majority.

Minority Leader Bryan Cutler, a Republican from Lancaster County, described Bradford’s proposal as an overly complex solution to a straightforward problem. He requested that Democrats prevent Boyle from voting “until this matter is fully resolved.”

“It is shameful that Pennsylvania House Democrats are using this tragedy to strengthen their majority and exert more control,” said Cutler in a statement. The House will resume its session on April 29.

Representative Charity Grimm Krupa, a Republican from Fayette County, recently stated that she is developing a plan to modify House rules. The proposed change would prohibit individuals who are in prison or have an active arrest warrant from voting remotely. Rep. Martina White, the only Republican in the House from Philadelphia, mentioned that her office has been receiving calls from Boyle’s constituents. They have been reaching out because his district office, which is located nearby, has not been responding.

Boyle, who is 44 years old, is currently running for re-election in the House. He is facing a primary opponent as he seeks his eighth term. His brother is Brendan Boyle, who is a Democrat and serves as a U.S. Representative for a district in Philadelphia.

Kevin Boyle was accused three years ago of harassing his wife and violating a protection order. However, these charges were later dropped. According to his attorney, the situation was described as a “domestic issue” and did not include any claims of violence. Kevin Boyle later stated that he received treatment at a mental health facility.

Bradford’s proposal suggests that specific lawmakers could take part in an inquiry, along with a lawyer. The inquiry would be conducted by the speaker, minority and majority leaders, and minority and majority caucus chairpersons. The group would meet secretly and could decide to have the lawmaker, whose status is being questioned, evaluated by doctors or psychologists. It would have the power to issue subpoenas.

If the group believes that a House member is unable to do their job, the full House would vote to decide whether to restrict their powers and privileges, suspend them without pay, or remove them from office. If the lawmaker has not been expelled and has finished treatment, they can request to regain their powers or status.

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