Mark Rozzi Named Speaker Of House

Mark Rozzi

Berks County Rep. Mark Rozzi was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Rozzi, 51, has served in Harrisburg since 2013 and was reelected in November with 64 percent of the vote.

He was nominated by Jim Gregory (R-Blair) and seconded by Tim O’Neal (R-Washington) while also receiving support from Democratic leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia).

Rozzi defeated Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset), 115-85, in a floor vote, as he received all 99 Democratic votes and 16 from the other side of the aisle, including GOP leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster).

He then stunned the chamber during his acceptance comments, renouncing his membership in the Democratic party to become an independent.

”The commonwealth that is home to independence will now be home to the commonwealth’s first independent speaker,” he said. “I pledge my allegiance and my loyalty to no interests in this building and to no interest in our politics. I pledge my loyalty to the people of the Commonwealth.”

Cutler said he expects Rozzi will remain speaker for the entire two-year legislative term even after the vacancies are settled by special elections.

“As a former Speaker myself, I can attest to the fact that the presiding officer of this chamber must remove himself or herself from their own political beliefs and put the institution before individuals. I have known Rep. Rozzi for many years and know he will rise to the occasion and meet the moment as a truly independent leader for the Pennsylvania House.”

Rozzi’s move would essentially leave the House with 101 Republicans and 101 Democrats with an independent Speaker of the House.

“I think Rossi will face an uphill battle maintaining the perception that he is an Independent, given that ultimately he’ll be forced at times to side with one party or the other on important decisions,” said Marc Meredith, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. “One immediate important decision that he might face is whether to allow the House to vote on the constitutional amendments passed last term if they are approved for a second time in the Senate.”

“Rozzi’s election is a complete surprise but a welcome sign of sanity and bipartisanship in our legislature,” said John Kinkaid, professor of Professor of Government and Public Service at Lafayette College. “Also surprising is that Democrats pushed Representative Joanna McClinton aside in their rush to support Rozzi. Rozzi’s declaration of independence is a positive signal that he will try to mediate between the two parties. At heart, though, he remains a Democrat. So being truly independent will be difficult for him to pull off.”

Rozzi is the first Speaker from Berks County since Wilson A. Sarig (1935-36).

A 10-year veteran in the House, he gained prominence as a tireless advocate for justice for child victims of sex abuse and won acclaim from members of both parties for those efforts.

Rozzi fought to get victims of child sexual abuse another chance to sue perpetrators or institutions that covered it up over claims that are barred by time limits in current law. The child sexual abuse lawsuit window has not been enacted. But Rozzi and others have advanced a constitutional amendment that will go before voters if both chambers give it a second round of approvals over the coming two years.

5 Responses

  1. How much are these people getting paid!?!?! I understand why he is doing this. It is very personal to him. But to lock out and not do any work, I don’t understand. This is taxpayer money. He should do this on his own time and not taxpayer time.

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  • When Will PA House Agree On Rules?

    • After the Special House Elections (Feb 7) (92%)
    • End of the Month (Jan 31) (4%)
    • End of Next Week (Jan 27) (2%)
    • Early February (Feb 1-6) (2%)

    Total Voters: 152

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