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The Senate is in session, and the House is in special session. Here are their schedules and those of committees.
Things have been busy.
What does the election of House Speaker Rozzi mean for the political calculus in Harrisburg? With the courts still to decide when to schedule the special elections for two of the three vacant seats, the dust has not settled regarding when the Democrats will hold the speakership and control of the House once all seats are filled. The Democrats are expected to retain all three of the open seats. The House still has not voted on its rules for this session, preventing them from passing legislation outside of the special session.
Governor Wolf and Speaker Rozzi have called for a special session of the House. This means that only one topic can be addressed: The long-delayed and overdue action to create a constitutional amendment (SB-1) that would provide survivors of childhood sexual abuse with a two-year window to pursue justice in civil cases.
For its part, the House GOP is doing all it can to drive Speaker Rozzi away from the party. House Republicans are calling for Speaker Rozzi’s resignation, even though they nominated him. NBC Philadelphia reports (video): “House Republican Leader Brian Cutler says there are other, more important things they need to prioritize ahead of child sex abuse.” The special session can only deal with the child sexual abuse window amendment, a priority of Speaker Rozzi and other cosponsors Yet, the GOP is attempting to ram three additional, unrelated, and hyper-partisan amendments through the General Assembly:
- SB-1 was originally a bill to create an amendment that seeks to expand the existing Voter ID requirements. Pennsylvania already has some of the strictest voter ID requirements. J.J. Abbott provides an explainer of the dangers of this messy amendment.
- Now, the GOP-led Senate has bundled the voter ID, regulation disapproval (SB-2 below), and the survivors’ two-year window amendments into the latest version of SB-1 in their attempt to force the passage of the two hyper-partisan amendments.
- SB-2 seeks to take regulatory power from the executive branch, giving more powers to the PA Legislature. This amendment would affect patients, access to safe abortions, worker safety, schools, pollution, and countless other aspects of our lives.
- SB-130 seeks to subvert the existing audits of our elections. The Pennsylvania Department of State is the office charged with election oversight and conducting risk-limiting audits to help affirm the integrity of the process. This amendment reinforces a lack of trust in election administration and aims to shift power away from actual election officials and place it under the authority of another agency. It is being pushed by those who are still promoting the Big Lie from 2020.
Combining all of these amendments into one piece of legislation is unconstitutional, said Senator Jay Costa, because it denies senators the opportunity to vote on each proposed amendment individually. He noted the governor is suing the General Assembly over that very issue.
Progressives have hopes – and expectations – for a Rozzi speakership. WTP PA Chair Marc Stier: “We are not looking for leadership in the House tilted in our direction. We are looking for fair, open, and inclusive leadership.”
This week, the 99% PA campaign is resuming our standing weekly Zoom meetings on Thursday afternoons. Please join us at 1 p.m. this Thursday, January 12, for a doubleheader, when we will provide updates on all that is happening in Harrisburg and Washington and what we anticipate happening in the first few weeks and months of 2023. PBPC (PA Budget and Policy Center) senior adviser Susan Gobreski will provide the state update, and 99% PA campaign coordinator Jeff Garis will talk about the federal context. RSVP here to receive a login for the meeting and a calendar reminder.
Americans for Tax Fairness: In Vote Today, #1 Priority for new GOP House is protecting rich tax cheats.
Center on Budget & Policy Priorities: House GOP’s First Bill: A Misleading Gambit to Protect Interests of Wealthy Tax Cheats
We The People-PA has released a statement on the proposed amendments and Speaker Rozzi.
The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center also released a statement, which you can read here: “PA Senate Hijacks Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors With Passage of Constitutional Amendments Package”
The Pennsylvania Senate hijacked the issue of providing relief to victims of sexual abuse to pass other constitutional amendments today. Using a non-controversial, bi-partisan proposal to help pass controversial amendments that are bad policy and the subject of litigation. Again, they also did it fast and without transparency.
The proposal to provide a window for sexual abuse victims will help serve the needs of justice. The other proposals do not serve the people of Pennsylvania, they serve the political goals of one political party. This is shameful.
Capitol Insider Calls start up again next Thursday, January 19, and every other Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Sign up for updates, and join our Zoom room or watch us on Facebook Live.
Next Wednesday: We The People-PA will host our monthly partner call at 10 a.m. This is a special meeting as it normally takes place on the second Wednesday of each month. An agenda will be emailed before the meeting. If you have not yet joined us for this call, you are also invited!
Email us if you would like to attend: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Released by the Keystone Research Center & the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:
- An Unemployment Insurance Agenda for PA’s Next Governor: Fix What’s Broken and Create a New National Model
- Inequity and Inadequacy in K-12 Education Funding in Pennsylvania: Fiscal Year 2022-23 Update
- You can find their other research publications here.
We hope you found this week’s eBlast valuable, and we appreciate your support and the demanding work you all do in your own areas every single day. Keep on keepin’ on!
Marc, Vivienne, Jay, and the rest of the WTP-PA team
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