Friday, July 11, 2014

Hey, lawmakers: Read, then sign

February 19. 2013 5:26PM
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A LITTLE ADVICE: If someone asks you to sign something, read it first.

That's usually pretty good advice, whether you're signing a contract, buying a car or, say, co-sponsoring a bill in the state Legislature. State Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township in York County, learned that lesson the hard way.

It starts with a bill that would limit the total amount of cash assistance a family can receive – known as a family cap. The intent of the bill, according to its primary sponsor, Rep. RoseMarie Swanger, R-Lebanon County, was to discourage women on welfare assistance from having additional children. In a memo, Rep. Swanger said the bill was not intended to punish families.

Well, it would.

But that's not what tripped up Rep. Gillespie.

He agrees with the concept, so when Rep. Swanger circulated a memo seeking sponsors for the bill, Rep. Gillespie signed on.

Then he saw the full text of the bill.

It would allow exemptions from the family cap for women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest. But it would have required rape or incest victims to provide proof that they had been assaulted. They would be required to provide a non-notarized statement ... stating that she was the victim of rape or incest, as the case may be, and that she reported the crime, including the identity of the offender, if known. The woman also would have to sign a statement saying that she is aware that false reports to law enforcement authorities are punishable by law.

Rep. Gillespie said he was unaware of that language in the bill when he signed on as a sponsor. He called it egregious.

Yes, it is.

After he learned of the language, he withdrew his support.

Later, Rep. Gillespie said all he had to go on was the memo seeking sponsors. He had not read the actual text of the bill, which apparently had not yet been drafted.

He should have waited and read the actual bill before signing on – because, well, isn't that his job?

This bill was a total of three pages long.

He should have waited and read the actual bill before signing on – because, well, isn't that his job?

York Daily Record

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