Pa. State House seeing standstill amid seat vacancies

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The doors are closed in Harrisburg for the House of Representatives.

“Very important pieces of legislation are before the House of Representatives right now. And unfortunately due to Speaker Rozzi’s actions, we don’t even have committees and we don’t have a structure for the house of representatives,” said Rep. Aaron Bernstine who’s a Republican.

Bernstine said Democrat Mark Rozzi, the Speaker of the House, has not called anyone back to session since Jan. 3. But Democrat Emily Kinkead said it’s the Republicans holding things up.

“The Republicans basically made it clear that if we came back to the floor that they were going spend the time not working on putting rules together, but on ousting the speaker and installing a new speaker,” Kinkead said.

The reason the speaker is a question is that there are three seats open all from Allegheny County. A special election is set for Feb. 7 to elect new representatives who will replace Summer Lee, who was elected to Congress, Lt. Governor Austin Davis and Tony Deluca who passed away.

So now it’s a stalemate: either return and argue or stay in your home district working on future bills.

“We are communicating. We just aren’t face-to-face in Harrisburg. There are a lot of conversations being had about bills that we want to move and actually it’s kind of helping us to get our ducks in a row,” Kinkead said.

The move is causing a lot of frustration from both sides of the aisle with the answer to end it all up in the air.

Republicans tried returning to session on Monday by putting together a letter, but they failed to get the votes by one.

“100 republicans signed it and one Republican failed to do so and that republican is Tom Mehaffie and I encourage him to start to do the work his people elected him to do so,” Bernstine said.

So what’s next? Unless Republicans get those 101 signatures on the letter, Kinkead told Channel 11 that it’s likely Democrats will wait until after the Feb. 7 special elections to return to session with a full house.

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