March on Harrisburg to persuade legislators to pass three bills in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Volunteers walked for nine days, from Philadelphia to Harrisburg, to persuade legislators to pass three bills.

Group members with the March on Harrisburg said they want to make Pennsylvania less corrupt, and they have asked legislators for months to act.

Madeline Whitehill, with March on Harrisburg, said, "This isn't just about us. This is about Pennsylvania as a whole."

The marchers walked about 100 miles and arrived at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg on Market Street.

Michael Pollack, the executive director of the volunteer effort, said, "And now we're here in Harrisburg to get our bills out of committee, to the floor for a vote, so we can take one step closer to healing our wounded democracy and restoring trust to our republic."

Those three bills, if passed, would establish a commission to redistrict the state, prevent politicians from receiving unlimited gifts, and automatically register people to vote.

Emmie DiCicco, the communications director for March on Harrisburg, said, "All three of these things: changing the redistricting process, enacting gift limitations, enacting automatic voter registration, would make Pennsylvania a more small D, democratic state."

The idea to start a March on Harrisburg started last year.

"I'll say that when we started this, we made a list of all the problems with Pennsylvania's democracy, and that list we had about 20 bills on there. So these are just the top three," DiCicco said.

Group organizers said the movement is non-partisan and they are not being paid to march. They add it's not just about the end goal, but also about the journey.

DiCicco said, "It's community building. When you walk with these people, you're a moving family. Everything that you do, you do together."

And no matter what, they feel like they've made an impact.

Whitehill said, "Even if we do not get these passed now, we will have planted a seed in every town that we've been through and all of the people that we've had great connections with."

The group will convene on the capitol steps Monday at 9 a.m.

If the State House and Senate do not vote on those bills this week, group members said they will take "non-violent direct action."