Pennsylvania swears in over 50 new lawmakers in Harrisburg
Tuesday’s ceremony marked the 207th session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
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On Tuesday, Jan. 2, 49 new members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives were officially sworn into office in the Hall of the House in Harrisburg. Shortly after noon, the state’s newest and returning lawmakers participated in the swearing-in ceremony as many watched on television screens just downstairs in the main lobby.
Tuesday’s session also marked the 207th session of the state General Assembly and the commencement of the 2023-2024 legislative session.
Republicans welcomed 16 new members with Democrats bringing in 15. The new class of elected officials also brings more Hispanics and Latinos to add to the overall House.
These include newcomers Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz of Berks County and Jose Giral of Philadelphia, who will be joining a veteran group of lawmakers, including Dominican Rep. Danilo Burgos, Puerto Rican Rep. Manny Guzman and Montgomery County’s Ben Sanchez.
Tuesday was also swearing-in day at the national level as the United States Congress swore in the newly-elected members of the 117th Congress and perhaps more importantly, had to choose a new House Speaker.
Pennsylvania had their own smaller version, but equally important task of also choosing their own. Just like Republicans in D.C., they were also unable to do so in Tuesday’s session until some Republicans broke rank and elected Berks County Democratic Rep. Mark Rozzi to be House Speaker.
Following the results of this past November midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans have not been able to agree on who exactly controls the House. Democrats beat Republicans in the November elections in terms of seats won.
However, because of the sudden death of a member, as well as the resignations of two others, leaves them with a total of 99 members, in comparison to 101 members for the GOP.
Democrat Rep. Anthony DeLuca, of Allegheny County, died nearly a month before Election Day, Nov. 8. He was unable to be replaced on the ballot because of timing, and still won re-election. A special election will be held, but no date has yet been announced and that did not occur ahead of Tuesday’s ceremony.
Following the administration of the oath of office, the chamber went to recess to at least in part, allow any visitors or guests to leave so that they miss the very long debate in relation to the election of a presiding officer. Rozzi would later prevail after an extensive debate.
While the swearing-in ceremony is a celebratory and joyous occasion for not just the newly-elected official but their family and friends, it can also be an opportunity for advocates to come out and make their voices heard, and for Fair District PA and the League of Women Voters, they did just that on the steps of the state capitol building.
They are calling on representatives to ask to vote “no” on legislative rules that do not represent the representative's district, as well as have better rules, bipartisan solutions and votes on bills that, in their eyes, have gone ignored and forgotten.
Tuesday marked a new beginning for the many newly elected lawmakers, but hopefully for many counties and residents in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well.