As the warmer weather approaches, we tend to forget about the pain we've endured when the temperatures were below zero. Those pains included one winter storm after another, high heating bills, and, in some cases, ridiculously high electric bills.

The purchase of electricity was deregulated in Pennsylvania, so a lot of companies offered various packages that consumers thought would save them money.

Instead, consumers found their bills substantially higher, in some cases doubling or tripling in a single month.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola conducted a public meeting and announced she was proposing regulations to prevent this from recurring.

She called some of these electric companies "hucksters." She was right. They sucker-punched some citizens of Pennsylvania with fine print that was probably comprehensible only to a engineer. They fast-talked residents into signing with them and then literally ripped them off.

Before these obscene bills are forgotten, lawmakers should tackle the issue of how these firms literally ripped-off people during the worst of times.

Deregulation is one thing, but opening the door for con artists with no legal reprisals is wrong. Pennsylvania lawmakers have to make sure their citizens are protected; that these companies can't go unchallenged and capitalize on hard times. The last we heard this was called price gouging.

The way things happen in Harrisburg and Washington is that each party will propose bills. The two parties will fight over the wording of the bills and want to have their respective regulations passed so that they get the credit.

The bickering will go on and on and the next thing you know, it will be time for lawmakers to have a recess. Nothing will get done.

This is done in the name of leadership. Our lawmakers are our leaders, and if you want proof look at their executive salaries.

Pennsylvanians can't afford this bickering over electric rate follies. They need relief and protection immediately.

Lawmakers have a burden to prove they are leaders and give the citizens this protection.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com