Democrats Take PA House Majority For First Time Since 2010
This past week, the Democrats won three special elections that were conducted for the purpose of filling vacant House seats. Although the outcome was expected (all the seats were in heavily Democratic parts of Allegheny County) the results were significant in that for the first time in 12 years, the Democrats control the state House.
The House has been called into session for February 21 (a week earlier than previously announced). Yet to be decided will be the question as to whether the Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi (a Democrat who pledged to conduct his office as an independent) will be replaced by Democratic leader Joanne McClinton from Philadelphia.
The business of the House has been on hold since January 3, in essence waiting for the special elections to be decided. Assuming the Speakership is in Democratic hands, that person will appoint committee chairs and ultimately determine which bills will be considered for votes in that chamber.
PPA has always attempted to work with both parties regarding legislative issues. However, due the nature of the membership and ideologies of the new majority, there most likely will be a decided change in priorities in the House.
For instance, the House Democrats have had a Climate Change Caucus in place for a few years. Several bills addressing that subject were introduced and in past sessions referred to Committees (previously under Republican control) which never saw the light of day.
That will change under the new order. For example, it is unlikely that Energy Choice (banning local governments from enacting climate change regulations) will be even taken up in Committee.
It is unclear (as of this writing) as to what Governor Shapiro may propose regarding environmental and energy matters, but having the House being of the same party gives him significantly more leverage in negotiations with the Republican Senate.
In addition, the Democrats being in control of the House make it highly unlikely that there would ever be even an attempt to override a veto or block a regulation proposed by the Governor.
It is the major purpose of PPA to be on top of proposals, educate legislators, and bring our members together with their elected officials. But members also need to be aware this is a whole different situation than we have dealt with since 2010.