Rule Change Ends Use of State-Owned Vehicles by Members of the Pa. House of Representatives | news

HARRISBURG — A late session rule change approved in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by an initiative of State Assemblyman Brad Roae, R-Crawford/Erie, was intended to be passed into law — ending the legislature’s use of taxpayer-financed vehicles.

The change means members of the House of Representatives can no longer request government-owned vehicles or claim reimbursement for vehicle leases. The measure was passed separately from another rule change related to proxy voting and remote participation. The two were first proposed in the same resolution.

Legislators who currently use state-owned vehicles can continue to do so. However, you will not receive a replacement and the vehicles could be withdrawn by the officer if this is deemed no longer practical or cost effective.

The measure was approved on November 16 by a count of 191-1.

“State police need police cars and PennDOT need dump trucks, but lawmakers don’t need state cars to haul their briefcases,” said Roae, who does not use a public or leased vehicle.

“While this change is the right thing to do, it also removes the Commonwealth’s financial liability,” he said.

Roae had attempted to make the change through legislation rather than the resolution that was eventually passed. A law would apply to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate retains its own rules, separate from the House of Representatives.

While Roae’s bill passed the House of Representatives in April with little opposition, it was not considered in the Senate. The same scenario played out with the bill in 2018.

A rule change could be reversed under the composition of the new House of Representatives when the next biennial session begins Jan. 3, although that seems unlikely given the voting space on the issue.

Few lawmakers still use publicly funded vehicles.

There were 26 state officials, all Democrats, driving publicly funded state-owned vehicles, the Office of the Chief Clerk of the House said in April.

Expense reports for the then State Senate showed that 11 state senators drove state-owned vehicles: three Republicans, seven Democrats, and one independent.

Monthly lease payments for House members’ vehicles ranged from $419 to $650, the chief clerk’s office said. Senate reach ranged from $555 to $888 monthly, online records showed.

Most associated expenses, such as gas, new tires and maintenance, are paid for out of pocket — but are also recoverable, the House chief clerk’s office said.

Legislators who do not drive state-owned vehicles can still receive mileage reimbursement at the IRS rate of 58.5 cents per mile. Mileage reimbursement can exceed potential leasing costs for some lawmakers, depending on how far they travel.