What a first week of 2023 we have seen in Pennsylvania politics. Here are our Ups and Downs for the week ending Friday, January 6.
Mark Rozzi. The Berks County Democrat surprised veteran Harrisburg watchers by being elected Speaker of the House on Tuesday. He pledged to govern as an independent and not caucus with either party, leaving the chamber in a projected 101-101 deadlock after the Allegheny County special elections.
Jim Gregory. The Blair County Republican, a survivor himself, is the author of the constitutional amendment providing for relief to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. His work with Rozzi has led Gov. Tom Wolf to call for a special session of the General Assembly on Monday to consider passing the amendment by both the House and Senate. Doing so by the first week of February would place the amendment on the May ballot.
Al Schmidt. A good week for the former Philadelphia City Commissioner, who was nominated by Governor-elect Josh Shapiro to become Secretary of the Commonwealth. On top of that, he was honored by President Biden with the Presidential Citizens Medal – the nation’s second-highest civilian honor – as an individual who “demonstrated courage and selflessness” in the events surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Joanna McClinton. The Democratic House leader from Philadelphia was in line to become the first woman Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Yet, she stood and spoke in support of the nomination of eventual winner Mark Rozzi for the position. Will Rozzi remain in the position for the remainder of the chamber’s term? Or will McClinton ascend to the speakership after the expected wins by three Democrats in Allegheny County special elections, giving the Dems a majority?
Bryan Cutler. The House Republican leader from Lancaster County brokered the deal that gained Mark Rozzi the Speakership in the Pennsylvania House. His negotiations brought along 15 other members of the GOP to vote for Rozzi to push him over the line. Was it the right move? Time will tell.
Scott Perry. The GOP congressman has been in the limelight as one of 20 Republicans that have objected to Kevin McCarthy’s nomination as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The chair of the House Freedom Caucus has used that leverage to gain concessions from McCarthy that will benefit him and his positions. Perry’s vote did swing to McCarthy on the 12th ballot.
Akbar Hossain. Called “one of the brightest minds on policy in Pennsylvania” by Governor-elect Josh Shapiro, Hossain was tabbed for the position of Secretary of Policy and Planning. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Shapiro-Davis Transition and was policy director on Shapiro’s gubernatorial campaign.
Mike Vereb. The current Director of Government Affairs for the Office of the Attorney General, Vereb was appointed by Shapiro to be Secretary of Legislative Affairs. He served in the PA House from 2007-17.
Carl Metzgar. The Somerset County Republican was selected over Allegheny County’s Valerie Gaydos, Chester County’s John Lawrence and Susquehanna County’s Tina Pickett to become the GOP nominee for PA House Speaker. He lost 16 members of the Republican caucus and was defeated by Mark Rozzi, 110-85.
Kim Ward. Interim no more. The Westmoreland County Republican was elected as the President Pro Tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate, becoming the first woman to hold the post. Ward had been serving in an interim capacity since November.
Angelo Carrion. The former PennDOT driver’s license examiner assistant was arrested Wednesday in a scheme where people paid him for help with licensing tests, according to state police. These payments ranged from $20 to $350 for his help with driver’s licenses and commercial driver’s licenses, police said.
PA Democrats. The Department of State said this week more than 16,000 mail-in ballots were disqualified by county officials because they lacked secrecy envelopes or proper signatures or dates. Democratic voters, who are much more likely to vote by mail, made up more than two-thirds of the total canceled ballots.
Jim Victor and Marie Pelton. The two sculptors of the Pennsylvania Farm Show 1,000-pound butter sculpture began work in mid-December to craft the work of art from butter donated by Land O’ Lakes in Carlisle, Cumberland County. Following the show, the butter will be moved to the Reinford Farm in Juniata County to be converted into renewable energy in the farm’s methane digester.
Daniel Donovan. The 64-year-old was sworn in as one of 10 new officers in the Harrisburg Bureau of Police. “I saw a lot of police departments losing people, not able to hire more people,” Donovan said Thursday. “I thought my health is still good, my children are grown and I still have a few good years ahead, and I have some skills that may be useful for the Harrisburg Bureau of Police.”