Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turzai's Tempest House Quickly Moves on Speaker's Pet Bill

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turzai's Tempest House Quickly Moves on Speaker's Pet Bill

Article excerpt

Many good bills never get a hearing in Harrisburg or a vote out of committee, let alone an express ride through the legislative process.

But when the House speaker favors it, even a horrible bill can be speeded to the floor with a high likelihood that the majority caucus - the speaker's caucus - will blindly vote for it.

That's House Speaker Mike Turzai's gameplan for getting himself a voice on the Allegheny County Airport Authority as a $1.1 billion modernization of Pittsburgh International Airport gets underway. Mr. Turzai said his call to restructure the authority board is about "good government" and accountability.

But it's really about asserting some control over the board. When Harrisburg power brokers start talking about accountability, something more has to be up.

Right now, all nine authority board members are nominated by county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and confirmed by county council. Mr. Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, wants to increase the number of board members to 13, cut Mr. Fitzgerald's appointments to eight and put the remainder of the seats under the control of legislative leaders and the governor.

It's a terrible idea partly because of the timing. Enlarging the board invites corruption and political gamesmanship as big-dollar contracts for the airport overhaul are let.

However, Mr. Turzai is determined to muscle his way into the authority's business, so the legislative machinery has been throttled up and this bill given a level of importance denied most other legislation. …

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