- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A second Republican state senator Friday criticized Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, accusing him of thwarting the “mainstream” GOP agenda and vowing to oppose him for re-election to leadership.

In a scathing letter, Sen. Don White of Indiana County said Pileggi has blocked Senate floor votes on high-profile bills to reduce pension benefits for future state and school employees, privatize the sale of liquor and wine, and limit labor-union deductions from the paychecks of most public employees - all backed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

“I had hoped that with only a dwindling amount of session days remaining you would devote your efforts to promoting initiatives which are important to a majority of our caucus, instead of spending time working under the cloak of darkness to hijack important legislation,” White said in the letter.

Corbett continues to trail Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by a double-digit margin less than four weeks before the Nov. 4 election and White acknowledged that fears of a Corbett defeat have energized Republican efforts to get their pet bills passed before the legislative session ends Nov. 30.

“Senator Pileggi has found a way not to let Governor Corbett have any victories at all,” White said in a Friday telephone interview.

White also cited bills to discourage local governments from imposing illegal gun restrictions and limit the growth of state spending to the annual rate of inflation as examples of legislation impeded by Pileggi’s “behind-the-scenes maneuvering.”

Pileggi, who is expected to seek a fifth two-year term as majority leader when GOP senators elect their leadership slate next month, defended his actions Friday in a letter to White that also was sent to all Republican senators.

Pileggi did not mention the pension, liquor and union-deduction measures, but said some of the bills White cited are lined up for legislative action during next week’s final two session days. Others will die when the session ends.

He said the gun-law bill was scheduled for committee discussion Wednesday, but the chairman canceled the meeting. No Republican senators, including White, asked for the spending-limit bill to be sent to the floor, he said.

Sen. Scott Wagner, a legislative freshman from York County, leveled accusations similar to White’s in a letter Wagner sent to the majority leader from Delaware County two weeks earlier.

“By prohibiting important legislation from advance to the floor for a vote, it is apparent to me that you are the number one obstacle in the Senate,” Wagner said in his Sept. 26 letter to Pileggi.

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