Central Pennsylvania Dominates New Leadership Teams

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

The Pennsylvania House and Senate met this week to close out the 2015-2016 legislative session and welcome new members for their first set of meetings. The first order of business for new and returning members was to choose their respective leadership teams for the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

After a productive two year session under Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre), Senate Republicans retained their existing leadership for another two years. This time around, however, Republican leaders will face the task of corralling 34 members out of the 50-member body, after picking up three new members in the 2016 election. Senate Republicans now have enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto and have pledged to come out strong, focusing on pension reform and a full phase-out of state-owner liquor sales in early 2017. The entire leadership team representing the majority body is:  President Pro Tempore Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson); Floor Leader Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre); Appropriations Chairman Sen. Pat Browne (R-Lehigh); Whip Sen. John Gordner (R-Columbia); Caucus Chair Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery); Caucus Secretary Sen. Rich Alloway (R-Franklin); Caucus Administrator Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks); and Policy Committee Chairman Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill).

New faces will appear in House Republican leadership next year as a result of the retirement of Caucus Chair Rep. Sandy Major (R-Pike) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware). With the House Republican caucus also strengthening its numbers from 119 to 122 out of the 203-member body, the new leadership team also increases the clout for central Pennsylvania by adding two new members, Rep. Stan Saylor as Appropriations Committee Chairman and Rep. Kurt Masser as Caucus Administrator. The entire leadership team for the House majority caucus is: Speaker-designee Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny); Floor Leader Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana); Appropriations Chairman Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York); Whip Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster); Caucus Chair Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery); Caucus Secretary Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion); Caucus Administrator Rep. Kurt Masser (R-Northumberland); and Policy Committee Chairman Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre).