December 30 – Who’s in charge? That’s the question with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives at the moment and it’s hard to say when the answer will be decided.
There are three seats in the House that have yet to be determined – two are available because of resignations (one member will be the new lieutenant governor and one will be heading to the US House of Representatives). The third seat was won by a man who passed away on October 9.
Special elections will need to occur to determine who will be in those seats.
All three seats were won by Democrats, but at the moment, there are physically 101 Republicans and 99 Democrats in the House.
So naturally, the Republicans think they have the majority, but the Democrats believe they have it because of the votes – regardless of whether or not someone is actually in the seat.
The decision will ultimately be made by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but when that will happen is unclear.
Add to that the swearing in ceremony will be held next Tuesday and things could get really crazy in Harrisburg in the future.
PA Representative Rich Irwin said, “You know the PA Supreme Court has not been our friends throughout the last number of years. Right now I think the most important thing going into swearing in day is to make sure we get the two important things accomplished that we do. One would be electing a Republican speaker and two would be setting the rules that’s going to carry us through this session.”
Democrat Representative Joanna McClinton had a judge swear her in as speaker a few weeks ago. Republican Brian Cutler is the current leader.
Could this end up in a literal battle for the gavel on swearing in day?
Irwin said, “That will be up to the members. The members elect the speaker of the whole body. Right now we have members of the Democratic leadership team that have been reaching out to Republican members promising our governor elect will fund projects in their district, trying to sway votes away from the Republican candidate and towards their Democratic candidate. I wish I had a better feel or grasp on exactly what’s going to happen as far as the speakership goes moving forward, but right now, I don’t have that and we have not even determined or decided who we will put forward as a candidate.”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7 said, “This feels very unethical that we’re going to bribe members to go ahead and give us the votes we want.”
Irwin said, “That’s one thing that we are warning our members is you have to take this into consideration. If you choose to make that vote and side with the Democrats over your Republican caucus, you’re the ones that are going to have to pay for that throughout this whole session. When we take back the majority, they’ll have to answer to that. Yeah, it might sound all great and good getting promised these pet projects, but the idea is you have lost all your candor in Harrisburg as far as I’m concerned.”