HARRISBURG - State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky claimed a seat in the House nearly nine months ago with the hope of being a voice for the people.
The Delaware County Democrat has cosponsored a number of bills important to her constituents.
But since winning a special election, Krueger-Braneky has quickly learned that the measures she and others bring to the table have a slim chance of ever making it to the governor's desk.
With 253 members, Pennsylvania boasts one of the largest full-time legislatures in the nation - and though its members keep busy churning out legislation, few of those bills actually become law.
Of 3,998 bills introduced in the House and Senate during the 2013-14 session, 369 bills became law, or 9.2 percent.
So far in this legislative session, which began in January of last year, just 149 of the 3,265 bills introduced have been enacted, or 4.6 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Legislative Data Processing Center.
Politics plays a role, the data show:
The majority of those bills were sponsored by Republicans who control both legislative chambers - and up until last year controlled the governor's office, too. Democrats, in the minority, tend to see their bills languish. Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Wolf, who took office in January 2015, has been unafraid to use his veto pen to strike legislation championed by the GOP.
"As a brand-new elected official, I've been pretty shocked at how things work in Harrisburg," said Krueger-Braneky. "And based on my observations, the only bills that move quickly or frankly even come to the floor at all, are handouts to the fossil fuel industry or multinational corporations."
While the numbers are stark, a handful of legislators and staffers say the disparity is neither unique nor indicative of a flawed system. They describe it as a process that is deliberately drawn out in order to produce strong bills.
"I would say it doesn't reflect any dysfunction, it actually reflects that everything works the way it's designed to," said Bill Patton, spokesman for House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny). "A lot of good ideas come up, some not so good, but the bills that have the most support ultimately get passed into law."
The numbers also reflect the fact that multiple bills are sometimes introduced on the same issue, and later get consolidated into a single piece of legislation, said Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery).
Take bills related to the heroin epidemic, said Vereb. He estimated that nearly 30 to 40 measures have been introduced in the House this session alone.
"People in Harrisburg are reacting to neighborhood efforts at home and the fatal stats they're seeing," Vereb said. "Then, they're bringing their own ideas forward . . . but only one bill encompassing all of those bills will become law."
He also said that bills sometimes get shot down because they are too specific to a legislator's district or a constituent's interest and will not garner support from the whole chamber.
For example, one of Vereb's constituents is an advocate against the poaching of elephants for ivory, a tough sell to a legislature that is known for supporting the rights of gun owners and hunters and far from an elephant habitat.
"Your constituent is happy because you gave it an attempt . . . but not every idea comes up with a load of support every time you introduce it," Vereb said.
Still, bills that made it to the governor's desk over the last two sessions had one thing in common - their prime sponsors were Republican.
In interviews, legislators acknowledged that the party in power directs what bills get debated and how quickly they make their way through a sometimes tangled legislative process.
It isn't uncommon for Republican-sponsored bills to move more quickly while similar bills offered up by Democrats get buried in committee, Patton said.
"That's one of the drawbacks that come with being in the minority," he said.
For four years, Rep. Mark Rozzi (D., Berks) unsuccessfully pushed legislation to remove the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. Two of his bills were never brought to a vote in the Judiciary Committee or the House floor, Patton said.
Yet, when a similar bill, introduced by Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was brought before the committee last month, it flew through both the committee and House within a week's time, Patton said.
House Democrats often compensate by teaming up with a Republican, one way to move a bill forward, he said.
Krueger-Braneky noted that tactic sometimes fails.
She said proposals for a new severance tax on Marcellus Shale drilling, led and supported by both Democrats and Republicans, have been kept from debate.
On bills she has sponsored, she said, her record is one for two. The bill that was signed into law allows the state to begin taxing tobacco used to make roll-your-own cigarettes. The second bill, an effort to reduce the role of lobbyists, remains in committee.
She said legislative leaders' "Trumpian" behavior has discouraged her from introducing more measures.
"We're currently in a legislative climate where lots of good bills and good legislation that would change people's lives are being sent to committee to die," she said.
Her solution: If voters are frustrated, they should take it to the polls.
"I don't think we're going to change the climate until we change the legislature," she said.