HARRISBURG - Officially, it's called the House State Government Committee. But the legislators, lobbyists, and staffers who attend the panel's weekly meetings know it better as the "Daryl and Babette Show."

In the Republican corner is Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, of Cranberry, in northwestern Pennsylvania, an ardent, pro-firearms conservative who chairs the panel because Republicans control the House. One of his main legislative goals is to crack down on the thousands of foreign citizens who, he maintains, are in Pennsylvania without proper documentation and are costing state taxpayers millions in welfare payments, school costs, and increased crime while paying no taxes.

In the Democratic corner is Rep. Babette Josephs of Philadelphia, equally outspoken but from the liberal side, who proudly talks about her American Civil Liberties Union membership.

She disagrees with Metcalfe on almost every issue and isn't afraid to tell him so. "You aren't running this meeting properly - you're running it like a brawl," she said two weeks ago after Metcalfe tried to get her to stop speaking.

"You can't interrupt debate - you're out of order," she told him. She then accused him of trying to bully her, adding, "I don't respond to bullying."

Metcalfe said that as chairman, he must maintain order, give everyone a chance to talk, and get votes taken on bills.

As the ranking Democrat on the panel, Josephs sits elbow to elbow with Metcalfe, and they often glare daggers at each other.

Republicans on the panel say Josephs shows disrespect by ignoring Metcalfe's calls for order and votes. Metcalfe banged his gavel loudly numerous times at last week's session as Josephs kept talking while a vote was being taken.

After one argument, Rep. Mark Mustio (R., Allegheny) told four Girl Scouts there as part of their good-government day, "I'm sorry you had to see this sort of embarrassment."

Being minority chair is a loss of power for Josephs. In the 2009-10 session, Democrats controlled the House, and she ran the State Government Committee. During that period, Metcalfe wasn't even on the panel.

Metcalfe is no stranger to controversy. He once blocked a House resolution honoring a Muslim group because Muslims "do not recognize Jesus Christ as God" and because it improperly compared Muslims to William Penn, who he said was Christian.

Gay rights advocates vilified him a couple of years ago when, on the House floor, he refused to give unanimous consent to a resolution for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, calling it part of the "homosexual agenda."

Metcalfe and other Republicans favor a bill that would make it easier for crime victims to sue for damages against a "sanctuary city" - defined as a city that refuses to use local police to check with federal officials about whether arrested suspects are undocumented aliens. The measure now applies only to Philadelphia because Republicans say it's the only sanctuary city in the state. Democrats fear the measure could cost the city millions in damages from suits filed by crime victims.

Metcalfe and Josephs have have gotten especially combative over a package of 15 GOP-sponsored bills designed to identify and evict undocumented aliens.

Josephs denounced the bills as "illegal, unconstitutional, and wrong" and said they were a "xenophobic" attack on Latinos.

"They want to scare away Latinos, like Alabama and Colorado did," she said, but Republicans said that was not true.

She and Metcalfe disagree over how many undocumented immigrants are in Pennsylvania. He insists it's in the hundreds of thousands and costs state taxpayers $1.4 billion while taking jobs from Americans.

Josephs said such statistics were inflated, adding, "Statistics are like the Scriptures - you can make them show what you want them to show."

Metcalfe and other Republicans claimed Philadelphia authorities - all Democrats - were winking at undocumented immigrants in order to get votes in city elections.

Josephs also raised objections about another bill that would require local and state police to determine the citizenship of every person charged with a summary offense.

"These bills show fear and contempt against a group of people - and we know they're Latinos," Josephs said. "I would flip an officer off if they or anyone else asked me about my citizenship."

Republicans loudly complained, leading Metcalfe to say: "Most people wouldn't be proud of you for making comments about flipping someone off."

Contact Tom Barnes at 717-623-1238 or hickeybarnes@yahoo.com.