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HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s tightly divided state legislature has adjourned indefinitely, throwing the Senate agenda, including a number of far-reaching constitutional amendments, into limbo.
House Speaker Mark Rozzi (Democrat, Burks) sent lawmakers home Monday without a single vote after Democratic and Republican leaders were unable to reach agreement on the rules needed to push the law forward.
State lawmakers briefly met to honor Gov. Tom Wolfe Special session request It was intended to pass a constitutional amendment to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse.The proposed amendment is Rozzi’s top priority And he has said that “the House will not consider any other bill” until it is completed, as long as he remains chairman.
Leaders of both parties had previously agreed to prioritize passage of an amendment that would allow child sexual abuse survivors to sue their abusers and the agencies that covered up their crimes for a two-year period. A window will open.
If both the state legislature and the Senate approve the amendment by the end of this month, it will be reflected in the May ballot.
But a very thin partisan split in the House has left the state legislature effectively stagnant between Democrats and Republicans. vie for control Commission powers and power to set agendas.
Rozzi, who was abused by a priest as a child, is now at the center of the struggle after soaring to the ranks of public speakers.
“History will not judge us on the number of Democrats or Republicans we have won, but it will judge us on what we have done for the children of this Union. .
The Republican-controlled state Senate also met on Monday, but did not take up the civil remedy amendment.Instead, Republican lawmakers Advanced Constitutional Amendment It expands voter ID rules, mandates additional election audits, and makes it easier for the General Assembly to override the governor’s rule.
In the midst of legislative dysfunction is a devoted community of childhood sexual abuse survivors, who called Monday a disappointing continuation of their emotionally taxing inaction. , their faith in Lotzi seems unshakable.
” It’s all hands-on decking. It doesn’t matter,” said James Faluszczak, a 53-year-old survivor of Erie. “We just want this law.”
A vocal advocate for survivors, Rozzi became a speaker after less than a week in negotiations Designed by a Republican leader.
In exchange for the endorsement, Republican leadership said Mr Lotzi would declare independence and formally change voter registration, House GOP Majority Leader Brian Cutler (R, Lancaster) told reporters on Monday. Rozzi has not yet commented on the transaction and has only communicated with the public and released several written statements.
If Rozzi quits, Democrats Most likely to be denied in the room after that three special elections A party is held that is expected to win. One is scheduled for his February 7th, while his other two dates are pending a court decision.
State Rep. Jim Gregory (Republican, Blair), a childhood sexual abuse survivor and primary sponsor of the Relief Amendment, formally named Lotzi as the speaker. He and her Rozzi have been worried in recent months about a speakership deadlock that could jeopardize their hopes of getting a proposal in the May poll.
But as of Monday, Lotzi had not changed affiliations and Gregory had lost confidence to do so. In a letter first seen by Spotlight PA, he asked her Rozzi to step down as speaker.
“I have placed great trust and confidence in you that you will keep the words I said in my acceptance speech. “But it is very sad to me, your friend, that you admitted to me on Saturday that you were only thinking of switching.” That’s it.”
Late last week, Wolf convened a special session to address the Sexual Abuse Amendment.
A proposed amendment would have to pass Congress twice in a row before being sent to voters statewide for consideration.
Both houses passed amendments on Gregory’s abuse in their previous two-year sessions, and Democrat and Republican leaders say they intend to pass it a second time so it reaches voters.
The question is when they will.
If lawmakers don’t pass the bill soon, it won’t be reflected in the May ballot and will have to wait until at least November. Rozzi, Gregory, and other survivors say the wait is unacceptable.
Rozzi and Democrats want to consider the amendment during Wolf’s special session, but Republicans said both houses hope to pass it in a regular session, alongside other priorities.
However, state House Republicans have proposed rules to govern the special session.
According to a draft shared by a House Republican spokesperson, the rule would create three committees to consider legislation, giving the Republican party an advantage over each faction. We may be able to combine the Sexual Abuse Amendment with other priorities. For example, amendments to require all voters to show identification whenever they vote by mail or in person.
“Our top priorities were three constitutional amendments: statutes of limitations, voter ID and the ability to talk about regulatory reform,” Cutler said Monday. “That remains our goal. We believe they are also aligned with Chairman Lotzi’s goals.”
According to a summary seen by Spotlight PA and confirmed by Democrats, Democrats planned to propose rules that would allow Rozzi to control the special session.
Rozzi will appoint three members of the sole commission under the proposed rule. Changes to the bill must be approved by a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority, and the topic of the session will be limited to child sexual abuse.
At the moment, there are more Republicans working in the House than Democrats, and Cutler said Monday he believes the caucus will have a vote to pass Republican rule. , moved the chamber back before canceling future session dates.
In a statement, Rozzi said he would convene a working group of six lawmakers (three Democrats and three Republicans) to develop operating rules. These rules govern how bills are introduced, debated, and approved by the entire House.
While the state House fought over the rule, the state Senate introduced a number of constitutional amendments, but none related to child sexual abuse.
A state committee of legislatures has approved an amendment that expands voter ID requirements, gives the Legislature power to override the governor’s regulation, and requires auditors to conduct annual election reviews. A Democrat, Lehigh County Senator Lisa Boscola, voted Yes, with all Republicans.
State Senator Pro Tempoa Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) declined to say when the abuses amendment would be moved to the floor.
The lack of action would be another chapter in a series of demoralizing setbacks for proponents of the proposal.
In 2021, when the amendments cleared a number of legislative hurdles to be reflected in the May vote, the Wolfe administration announced:internal system failureThe bill was poorly publicized and could not be legally voted on. The process of passing it had to start anew in Congress.
Earlier Monday, Gregory said he didn’t know what would happen with the amendment.
“For my recovery and sobriety, I must leave it in God’s hands,” he said.
This story has been updated to replace a quote from James Faluszczack that better reflects his feelings about how Rozzi got the position of Speaker.
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