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HARRISBURG — In the next few days, the party that controls the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is likely to be decided in three special elections, breaking the stalemate that has brought the House to a complete halt.
A special election for the contested state seat will be held on Tuesday. All three are in districts of Allegheny County dominated by registered Democratic voters, and the party is expected to win.
That would give Democrats a majority in the House for the first time in over a decade.
In addition to Democrats likely winning a majority, the election is expected to put an end to an unusual month-long impasse that has made action in the state legislature procedurally impossible.
This period began when a Democrat behind the scenes became chairman in a deal rigged by the Republicans. The deal quickly devolved into an infighting between the two major political parties, unable to agree on the rules by which the House should function.
Democratic candidates won the 32nd, 34th and 35th congressional districts in November, but the seats were quickly vacated. One of his winners died too close to the polling day to be excluded from the ballot, and two of his others resigned after taking higher positions.
If the party wins those districts again on Tuesday, the House will have 102 Democrats and 101 Republicans, giving it a Democratic majority.
Democrats have yet to reveal who will likely head the state House of Representatives and what the tightly divided House will accomplish.
Will Mark Lotzi stay on the speaker?
The current chairman is State Rep. Mark Rozzi (Democrat, Burks). He won the role in a deal rigged by the Republican Party and was not the first choice for the caucuses.
The Chair’s powers include coordinating debates on the floor, preparing bills for voting, and appointing the Chairs of the Chamber’s committees. While they technically serve as officers for the entire House, they tend to use their considerable powers to benefit the party.
The Democratic nominee for chairman since 2020 Rep. Joanna McClinton (Democrat, Philadelphia)With three vacancies in the party and failure to secure Republican support despite the unified Democratic support, McClinton was unable to obtain the votes necessary to become president at the start of this legislative session. could not
That could change if the Democrats win all three elections on Tuesday.
There are two ways to replace the speaker. Mr. Rozzi can resign or a majority of the state legislature can vote to remove Mr. Rozzi from office and appoint a new person. In either case, it would take her 102 caucuses, including Lotzi, for McClinton to vote for her. If her members opposed her, she would need Republican support for the position.
Rozzi has said he doesn’t want to resign, but tell AP“I know how to count votes.”
When asked by the Spotlight PA for comment on whether he would vote for McClinton as speaker if he was recalled, he did not respond.
In a statement to the Spotlight PA, McClinton said he was “honoured” to serve as chair, adding that he believed his colleagues would “make the best decisions to move Pennsylvania forward.” rice field.
she recently told the Inquirer She “wants to be the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House,” but it’s not yet clear if that will happen.
Some Lay Democrats, including Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D., Philadelphia), publicly support speaker replacement.
“When the House of Representatives is fully populated, Leader Joanna McClinton will become Speaker Joanna McClinton,” he said. murmured last month.
Republican leaders are fed up with Lotzi after arranging his installation as a speaker. Ongoing debate over management of certain office suitesRepublican Party leader Brian Cutler (R, Lancaster) called on Lotzi to “step aside”, citing a “long list of trust-breakers”.
That “break of trust” started shortly after the session began. The deals that gave Rozzi coalesced when Republicans were unable to unite a functional majority around a single candidate and sought a willing Democrat.
Republican leaders pitched the same proposal to some Democrats. A source told Spotlight PA: The Democrats will accept the nomination of the Speaker and win Republican votes in exchange for agreeing to become an independent and not attend caucuses with either party.
Rozzi accepted the nomination.Lotzi’s Republican Supporters told Spotlight PA Democrats agreed to the deal because electing a speaker would create a stalemate, a legislative priority for child sexual abuse victims like Lotzi himself to have more options to sue abusers. I was worried that the constitutional amendment would be in danger.
Republican leaders backed Lotzi’s bid, while Democrats backed him on McClinton’s direction. He easily won the internal vote.
But to the dismay of Republicans, Lotzi did not abandon his registration with the Democratic Party. Members of the Republican Party immediately began calling for his removal.
What can this legislature do?
The passage of the bill is blocked because the Chamber of Commerce failed to agree on basic operating rules.
However, both parties telegraphed their priorities.
Democrats say they want a higher minimum wage, more funding for public schools and passage of an amendment on sexual abuse.
This action creates a two-year window in which past abuse cases can be filed even if the statute of limitations has expired.
Republicans, on the other hand, have focused on getting around Democratic governors with constitutional amendments. Primarily, it implements universal ID requirements on ballots and makes it easier for the state House and Senate to override governors’ regulatory rules.
Both parties note that margins between partisans in the House are so thin that a bipartisan deal may be required.
Rep. Jesse Topper (R. Bedford) said: “I hope we can move forward and have some success with the Chamber.”
Meanwhile, the state Senate is still dominated by Republicans, indicating that their priorities are aligned with those of the state House of Representatives.
In the first act of the session, the Republican Senator — Support from one Democrat — Passed a series of constitutional amendments that bundled voter ID and regulatory measures into the Child Abuse Amendment.
The Republican decision to put together these amendments, combined with the state House’s inability to agree on the operating rules, missed the deadline that would have been put to a referendum in the May primary.
Survivors who have supported the amendment for years will have to wait until at least November to vote on it.
Who will vote on Tuesday?
Voting on February 7th will be seats in all three districts of Allegheny County. 34 days covering parts of Pittsburgh, North Braddock, Wilkinsburg and Wilkins Township. The 35th covers McKeesport, several other smaller municipalities, and parts of West Mifflin.
The voting population of each district is Over 60% Democratsbut Republicans still have challenges in all three.
In the 32nd Democrat Joe McAndrew is fighting Republican Clayton Walker To claim the seat held by the late Democrat Tony Deluca for nearly 40 years. The 34th, held before Democrat Summer Lee was elected to Congress, Republican Robert Pagaan faces off against Democrat Abigail Salisbury. and Democrat Matthew Gargiley to compete with Republican Don Nevilles Democrat Austin Davis served as president until he was elected lieutenant governor.
Unlike primaries, these special elections allow people of all political parties to vote, even those who are not affiliated with any political party. However, the voter registration deadline has passed, so unregistered voters will not be able to participate.
Spotlight PA’s Stephen Caruso contributed to the report.
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https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/02/pennsylvania-house-special-elections-democrats-rozzi/ PA House Control Is Determined By Three Elections Spotlight PA