Jim Willshier – Director of Government Affairs
It’s February in Pennsylvania which means the nation focuses on Punxsutawney Phil and also talks about repeating days like in Bill Murray’s “Groundhog’s Day” movie. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania also has the nation’s attention as we seem to have our own Groundhog’s Day moment in the state capitol with repeated days of uncertainty for nearly all legislative matters in the House of Representatives.
At the time of publication, we have now received results from three special elections in 2023 giving a narrow majority to Democrats of 102-101. Still today – weeks following the General Assembly being sworn in – the Pennsylvania House has not adopted its rules as required every session which also means that committee assignments and the movement of bills are completely stalled. It has also been openly questioned who had a majority before this week’s special elections filled vacancies that existed. Thus we had a political Ground Hogs Day of never taking that next step to truly begin considering legislation.
As a result of all this confusion, it’s also been unclear whether Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) nominated by his colleagues to act as the Speaker of the House on January 3 will step down for a new Speaker to be sworn in after these special elections. Time will soon tell when the House returns at the end of February to finally adopt its rules meaning committees can be assigned and control of the House will formally be recognized for Democrats. We may very well then see Rozzi succeeded by another for Speakership.
These developments come just in time for new Governor Shapiro to present his first budget on March 7 and begin operating state government at full capacity. They also come as nearly ¼ of the General Assembly is brand new to their jobs after winning their election last fall.
So what’s the bottom line to you reading this? If ever there has been a time to say that your voice needs to be heard by your elected officials it is undoubtedly now. There has been confusion about how to begin and operate our state legislature but there has always been clarity on what ABC Keystone’s members know will help Pennsylvania’s economy. Our legislature will need to continually hear your voice to make key decisions this legislative session.
Please find the opportunities to help them hear from you – follow our advocacy work on our website and media, join our Government Affairs Committee, download the ABC app (yes, there is an app for us too!) to be informed, and send messages to your elected officials through Apple or Google stores, contribute to our political action committee or contact our new government affairs director with questions. Most importantly just be engaged!
Jim Willshier, Director of Government Affairs