Deadlocked political bodies are nothing new for first-term state Rep. Lisa Borowski.
As a Radnor Township commissioner, she led the Republican-majority board as its president. Borowski is a registered Democrat.
“I try to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, the majority of people who run for office really have the best interests of their community in mind,” she said. “We may have different ways of getting there, but the end goal is, ‘what’s best for your neighbors?’”
Borowski is ready to put that experience and perspective to work in Harrisburg, where she now represents the 168th District–part of Delaware County–after unseating incumbent Chris Quinn in November. After winning three special elections in Allegheny County last week, Democrats now have a one-seat majority in the chamber–their first majority there in more than a decade.
“The last election was a mandate of voters saying they’re tired of who was [in Harrisburg] and all the work that was not being done,” Borowski said. “What people are saying right now is that it’s time to work together. We’re going to have to look at legislation that has a common goal and work to find common ground and moderation to get things done.”
She wasn’t waiting for the political situation in Harrisburg to get settled before diving into the job. While some lamented the lengthy recess the state House went into after swearing in new Members and electing a Speaker, Borowski used the time in her district to meet with everyone she could. She also used the time to get to know her newly hired staff who also had more time with her than anticipated. She said they are already working as a team and understand her legislative and constituent priorities.
Borowski is also shopping around her first two bills for co-sponsors. She inherited legislation from a Republican in a previous session to eliminate the fees for state and federal identification documents for victims of domestic violence.
“That’s really good legislation that’s just been sitting and not going anywhere,” she said.
The other bill, which she introduced with Rep. Greg Scott (D-54th District, Montgomery County), would eliminate the mileage threshold for Medicaid reimbursement for patient transport by EMS crews. Currently, crews must transport a patient more than 20 miles to be eligible for reimbursement but with the loss of hospital beds in the region, Borowski said ambulances are having to travel farther. However, most transports are under 20 miles so they are not seeing additional resources for the extra driving.
“I learned so much as a commissioner about the challenges volunteer fire departments and EMS face and the vital role they play in our communities,” she said. “If municipalities had to run them, it would be insanely expensive, but they need support.”
Borowski said she is also looking at other ways to support local municipalities through supporting grants for new water infrastructure and open space preservation. While she continues learning about the myriad challenges facing all the townships in her district, Borowski excitedly talks about getting her district office ready to open.
The phones and computers were delivered last week. The furniture is mostly donated. She got a great line on office furniture from businesses that had broken leases and were just leaving desks and other items. She bought one desk for $5.
“Everything in our office is recycled – even the $5 desk,” she said, laughing.