HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Tuesday, Feb. 14, will mark six weeks since the Pennsylvania State House elected Speaker Mark Rozzi. It has done little since. No session. No rules. No plan.
However, the stalemate may soon end as lawmakers prepare to return to the Capitol, even if it’s still unclear who will be running the show long term.
Three Democrats won the special elections held in Allegheny County, and now the chamber is made up of 102 Democrats and 101 Republicans.
The legislators are scheduled to be back in Harrisburg next week.
“We’re going back into session and hopefully start doing legislation that we can move forward Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Mary Isaacson (D-Philadelphia).
How long Speaker Rozzi holds on to the gavel, whether he will switch out for Democratic leader Joanna McClinton, and if he will be able to push a law and a constitutional amendment to let survivors of child sex abuse sue beyond the statute of limitations through remains unknown.
“My fellow Pennsylvanians, the time for justice is now,” Rozzi said. “History will judge us based on what we did to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens. Our children.”
Securing justice for victims of childhood sexual assault is one of Rozzi’s top priorities.
It’s also clear that the gridlock in Harrisburg has produced hard feelings. Rozzi changed the locks of a few Republican-held offices in the middle of the night and Republican lawmaker Tom Mehaffie was kicked out of his office.
Despite Republican leaders blaming Rozzi for the lock-changing fiasco, Mehaffie frustrated others in the GOP for refusing to join their attempts to force the house back into session.
Rep Dawn Keefer (R), chair of the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, spoke on the situation a few weeks ago.
“Are you gonna stick with Republicans on procedural things or not? And if not, I guess you’re not part of the caucus, right? So you need to pick a horse and ride it,” Keefer said. “If you’re not going to allow us to get back to work because you’re lining up with Democrats on the issues, then you could caucus with the Democrats if they’ll allow you to caucus with them.”
Even though Harrisburg appears to be in disarray, there seems to be a bipartisan agreement that lawmakers need to get back to work.
“We need to start working bipartisanly around here, so hopefully we can get rules adopted and do people’s business,” said Isaacson.
“Everybody needs to get back to the Capitol and we need to get to work,” Keefer added.
The Pennsylvania House is scheduled to be back in session on Feb. 21, when legislative work could possibly begin.