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Analysis: Lawmakers Debate Big Issue In Little Room

(The state capitol in Harrisburg.  File photo)

(The state capitol in Harrisburg. File photo)

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A state House committee this week held a meeting to vote on one of the biggest issues facing state government but many people interested in the proceeding were shut out.

There’s a tune from the 90’s that referred to “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm.” There are hearing rooms all over the state capitol with space for dozens of interested people. But on Wednesday the House Finance Committee met to vote on a controversial natural gas drilling bill in a small conference room.

Allegheny County Democrat Dan Frankel was one of the many who couldn’t get in.

“To put in basically a closet to prevent access for the press, for the public to witness the debate about an important issue, I think, is saying that they have something to hide.”

“At this time, this is the room that is available to me,” says Republican Kerry Benninghoff, the committee chairman.

But there was at least one other available hearing room that would have been far more appropriate. Instead, the meeting was held in the same tiny room where late on a night in July 2005 a disastrous legislative pay raise was voted on. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Reported By Tony Romeo, KYW Newsradio

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