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House leader slams Senate

Published by Kate Giammarise on .

Step Brothers

HARRISBURG -- Acrimony between Republican leaders in the state House and Senate appears to have spilled out of the closed doors of the Capitol and into public view, with a recent memo sent by the Speaker of the House Sam Smith to GOP House members.

In it, Mr. Smith lambastes his legislative colleagues in the Senate over a recent dispute between the two chambers.

"When I took the oath as Speaker of the House, I did so with every intention of standing up for the House of Representatives as a chamber and fighting for the respect we deserve," part of the memo reads.

"I would agree that it is a sad state of affairs that I would need to resort to 'note to self' language in a fiscal code to send such a message, but I am going to do what I feel is needed to demand respect from our sister chamber."

The memo was sent earlier this month to all House Republicans.

Mr. Smith is referring to a bit of language inserted into the fiscal code - a budget-related bill - and then stripped out by the Senate, leading the House to have to return to the Capitol for a day after already having recessed for the summer.

The language in question stated both chambers would vote before the end of October on a controversial so-called "payday" lending bill.

The memo further states "the Senate sent us a tax code and a welfare code on June 30 containing issues that we as a leadership team had not agreed with. If you remember, we worked as a caucus to deal with the issues in a manner that was appropriate and respectful of our sister chamber." (The tax code and welfare code are budget-related bills.)

As budget negotiations reached their peak at the end of June, the gulf between the priorities of the House and Senate appeared fairly wide, though both chambers are controlled by Republicans. The more moderate Senate had passed a transportation-funding bill, and even a bill supporting the expansion of Medicaid in the state. The more conservative-leaning House had passed a bill to privatize the state-run liquor system in Pennsylvania.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi declined comment on the memo. Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati did not return a call seeking comment.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, said he did not think the letter would hurt the working relationship between the two chambers.

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