Two Philly Dems, three suburban Republicans named to Pa. House panel investigating Krasner

Two Democrats representing crime-ravaged districts have been appointed to serve on the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order established last month to investigate the causes of rising crime during Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s tenure.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, on Monday announced Reps. Amen Brown and Danilo Burgos, both Philadelphia Democrats, would be appointed along with three Republicans: Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester, who will serve as chairperson; Rep. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks; and Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Adams, who is one of three Republican House members who proposed impeaching Krasner last month. 

Ecker and Reps. Josh Kail, of Beaver County, and Tim O’Neal, of Washington County, said after three people were killed and 11 more were wounded during a shooting on South Street in Philadelphia last month that “unchecked violent crime” in the state’s largest city had reached a breaking point and circulated a memorandum proposing articles of impeachment against Krasner.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted 114-86 – largely along party lines – to adopt the resolution establishing the select committee, with three Philadelphia Democrats voting in favor of the committee.

Brown and Burgos both cast votes against the resolution to establish the committee and have taken varying stances on criminal justice issues. 

Burgos told the Capital-Star on Monday that he believes the committee needs to look at the root causes of crime in Pennsylvania.

“If we want order, that means in my mind to properly fund our schools and to protect the most vulnerable and weak in our communities,” Burgos said. 

Burgos said he was asked to be a member of the committee and accepted because he saw it as a vehicle to highlight the issues that are affecting his community.

“Hopefully we will make recommendations that are beneficial for all and not just for talking points and political issues,” Burgos said. “It’s obviously being pushed forward by the GOP, but I hope that what happens is really what they said, to find solutions to issues of crime across the state, not just Philadelphia.” 

Burgos’ district includes Kensington and a collection of north Philadelphia neighborhoods known colloquially as “the Badlands.” Brown’s district covers a broad swath of west Philadelphia.

Burgos’ legislation this session has focused on criminal justice issues, such as decriminalizing cannabis and helping immigrants, including a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. 

Brown has proposed legislation that would enact progressively longer mandatory minimum sentences for people who have been convicted of crimes and are subsequently convicted of a crime while in possession of a weapon. 

Other bills of which Brown was the prime sponsor include giving people convicted of driving without insurance the option of paying a fine instead of losing their licenses and banning deceptive tactics in police interrogations of juvenile suspects.

Two of the Republican members, Lawrence and Thomas, represent districts in the suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia. 

In debate over the resolution, Democrats suggested that the bill’s sponsors were subverting the will of Philadelphia voters who elected Krasner to a second term last year. Republicans who spoke in support of the resolution said it was a response to cries for help from the families of people murdered in the city since Krasner took office.

Republican House members in districts outside of Philadelphia also argued that they have a duty to protect their constituents, who visit the city for education and sports and cultural events.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Peter Hall

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