Summary Legislation

As we reported previously, on election day in November, the House Democrats surprised most observers and won enough seats to take over the majority for the first time in a dozen years. However, three of those seats were won by incumbent legislators who will not be serving in the new session. Two resigned in December to take higher offices, and one, long-time Allegheny County Rep. Anthony DeLuca, passed away. This left the Dems back on the short end of the majority, though they did not concede that in the weeks that followed, and confusion ensued. In the absence of an elected Speaker, both Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) and Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) claimed the majority, as well as the authority to schedule the special elections to refill the three open seats.

On January 3, when the new General Assembly was sworn in and was to begin business, the House R’s, who had 101 seats to the Democrats’ 99, spent all morning in caucus debating and eliminating candidates to nominate for Speaker. Ultimately, but not unanimously, they settled on Somerset County Rep. Carl Metzgar prior to going to the floor, and holding the swearing in pomp and circumstance. This included reappointing the head of Legislative reference, Vince Deliberato, and announcing the impending retirement of LONG-time parliamentarian Clancy Myer, and electing his successor. In the background, both caucuses were trying to work deals with potential “compromise” candidates from across the aisle, since it was unclear if Metzgar would have 101 votes to be elected Speaker – or perhaps it was clear that he didn’t. Metzgar reportedly had agreed to demands by the right wing “Freedom Caucus” to take certain actions.

In the weeks preceding Swearing-In day, third-term Republican member Valerie Gaydos had offered herself as that compromise candidate, but she did not last past the first ballot in caucus. After a lengthy recess, and a joint session chaired by Sen. Pro Tem Kim Ward to report the votes of the election for Governor and Lt. Governor, a motion was made, to the surprise of many, by Republican Rep. Jim Gregory, that Berks County Democrat Rep. Mark Rozzi be elected Speaker. Also probably to the surprise of many, Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton stood up and seconded the nomination. Democrats had previously offered an adjournment motion resolution that would have recessed the House until February 21, after the House adjourned yesterday. This would have meant the House would not be in session until after at least one of the special elections to fill the vacated seats in Allegheny County, precluding the R’s from running their agenda. That motion failed on a tie vote. At least some of the Republicans, likely including the Freedom caucus members, were caught off guard, and attempted to still offer Metzgar. Rep. McClinton, who stands to become speaker when the open seats are filled, did not offer herself of any other Dems. So the votes were taken and Rozzi defeated Metzgar by a 115-85 vote.

Rozzi took the gavel, and announced that he would serve as an “independent” Speaker, and would not sit in either caucus. He also said his staff would come from both parties. And he announced the specials will ALL be February 7. Republican Leader Cutler lauded Rozzi, while McClinton interestingly did not immediately issue a statement. Republicans now will have a 101-98 “majority”, plus Rozzi. It is still unclear how the committees will be constructed, as the caucus leaders have to come to some agreement on distribution in a split House. The House recessed without returning from a post-election caucus, so a lot of questions remain, about when the House will return, and what that return will look like and entail. Also, will Rozzi remain independent, and will he attempt to retain the speaker gavel when the House is at full complement? Stay tuned.

In the interim, Rozzi has appointed a six-member, bipartisan task force to develop a set of rules for conducting business in the House, a task normally performed by the majority party, with limited input from the minority. None of the members of the task force came from either party’s chosen leadership teams, apparently by design. Then, Rozzi and the task force announced a “listening tour”, traveling around the state to meet with the public to take “advice” on how to break the partisan logjams and get the people’s business done. Rozzi then cancelled the remaining scheduled session days in January, and announced the House will resume session on February 27. At that point the winners of the three Allegheny County Special elections will likely be sworn in, returning the House to a Democrat majority, at 102-100, with an open REPUBLICAN seat, vacated by Rep. Lynda Culver, who won a special election on January 31 to succeed Sen. John Gordner who resigned to become Chief Council to the Senate Republicans. The Culver seat will also be filled by special election, to be called by the House Speaker, be it Rozzi or McClinton.

State Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland, as expected, has won the January 31 special election to replace retired Sen. John Gordner in the state Senate. Schlegel Culver has gotten almost 70% of the votes counted, as of press time for this report. After the results are confirmed, Culver will resign her House seat, and be sworn in to the Senate, possibly the week of February 27, when the Senate is scheduled to return to session. That resignation will necessitate another special election in Northumberland County, to replace her, to be called by the Speaker of the House, at least 60 days after the vacancy is created.

While Speaker Mark Rozzi’s task force continues its House rules negotiations, House Republican leadership announced its chairs for this session. The chairs for the 2023-2024 session are as follows: Representatives Steve Mentzer (Aging and Older Adults), Dan Moul (Agriculture and Rural Affairs), Seth Grove (Appropriations), Lynda Schlegel Culver (Children and Youth), Joe Emrick (Commerce), Jim Marshall (Consumer Affairs), Jesse Topper (Education), Martin Causer (Environmental Resources and Energy), Kate Klunk (Ethics), Keith Greiner (Finance), David Maloney (Game and Fisheries), Russ Diamond (Gaming Oversight), Kathy Rapp (Health), Doyle Heffley (Human Services), Tina Pickett (Insurance), Rob Kauffman (Judiciary), Ryan Mackenzie (Labor and Industry), Mindy Fee (Liquor Control), R. Lee James (Local Government), Aaron Kaufer (Government Oversight), Carl Walker Mentzer (Professional Licensure), Brad Roae (State Government), Donna Oberlander (Tourism and Recreational Development), Kerry Benninghoff (Transportation), Rich Irvin (Urban Affairs), and Mark Gillen (Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness).

House Democrats, who stand to regain the majority after the February 7 special elections in Allegheny County, have yet to announce their chairs.

Pennsylvania workers and businesses often wait months to hear back after applying for a license, certificate, or permit. Governor Shapiro’s Executive Order will begin the process of setting standard response times – and if agencies fail to meet those deadlines, applicants will get their money back.

On January 31, Governor Josh Shapiro signed an Executive Order to improve the Commonwealth’s licensing, permitting, and certification processes, beginning a comprehensive review of how long it takes agencies to process applications and how workers and businesses apply online. This Executive Order will help to establish a date-certain for each license, permit, or certificate by which applicants will hear back – if applicants don’t receive a response by that date, the agency responsible will refund their application fee.

The Shapiro Administration is committed to transforming Pennsylvania government to more effectively and efficiently serve Pennsylvanians. Last week, Governor Shapiro launched a new initiative to grow Pennsylvania’s economy and provide faster, more efficient customer service to Pennsylvanians when he created the Office of Transformation and Opportunity – a one-stop-shop for businesses that want to grow in Pennsylvania. Today’s Executive Order builds on Governor Shapiro’s commitment to improving how government works and creating economic opportunity for all Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania workers often have to wait months and are forced to navigate inefficient digital systems to receive their professional license, permit, or certification – and Governor Shapiro knows this is unacceptable. The Governor is directing all state agencies, boards, and commissions to compile a catalog of the licenses, certificates, and permits they issue – including the statutory authority governing the length of time they must process applications and the application fee charged by each agency. Commonwealth agencies will have 90 days to send this information to the Governor’s Office, which will then review, analyze, and establish efficient application processing times for all occupational permits or licenses based on agency recommendations. Once those recommendations are put in place, if an agency does not respond to an applicant before the date-certain, the agency will be required to refund the application fee.

Under this Executive Order, the Governor’s Office will also conduct a review of the existing digital services that Pennsylvanians use to apply for licenses, certificates, and permits and work to modernize those application platforms and services to better serve Pennsylvanians.

“State government’s top priority should be serving the people of our Commonwealth, but for far too long, Pennsylvanians have had to endure long wait times, outdated systems, and bureaucratic delays. They deserve a government that works efficiently and effectively to get them answers,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Under my Administration, Pennsylvanians will have certainty – they will know how long it will take for agencies to respond, and if an agency doesn’t live up to that promise, they deserve their money back. Pennsylvanians work hard to keep our economy moving, and the Commonwealth should work just as hard to process their applications.”

“Today, with this Executive Order, Governor Shapiro has launched Pennsylvania on a new path. This Administration is making the people of Pennsylvania and customer service our top priority,” said Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt. “People shouldn’t have to suffer through long wait times to put their skills and knowledge to good use. Together, with the Governor’s Office, we will work to ensure Pennsylvanians can get to work in a timely fashion without having red tape hold them back.”

Unpredictability and long wait times for Commonwealth-issued licenses, certificates, and permits can create unnecessary barriers for Pennsylvania workers and businesses. For example, an NPR analysis from 2021 found that Pennsylvania had some of the longest wait times in the country for issuing nursing licenses. More than half of the nursing applicants who applied in Pennsylvania that year waited at least three months to hear back.

In addition to nursing licenses, the Commonwealth issues hundreds of licenses, certificates, and permits, from barber and salon licenses to teacher certifications to business permits. Under the direction of the Governor, the Administration will work expeditiously to ensure Pennsylvanians get responses in a timely manner – and the Shapiro Administration will have real skin in the game. Governor Shapiro is making clear his Administration will be customer-service oriented and that state government will work harder to get them a response, so that they can pursue their dreams.

Read Executive Order 2023-07, Building Efficiency in the Commonwealth’s Permitting and Licensing Processes, here.

The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists met on January 23, via hybrid meeting format. Following are the highlights.

Board President Joe McNally, PG, presided, and welcomed the members and sunshine attendees. He had no further report.

∙ Board member Martin Helmke, PG, reported on the recent ASBOG meeting.

Board Prosecutor Glenn Masser, Esq., had two cases to report, which the Board discussed in Executive Session and were approved.

Board Counsel Bill Fritz announced that the SEALS regulation as been approved by IRRC, and will be effective upon publication in the PA Bulletin. No other regs pending.

∙ The Board held a hearing on PE petition to reinstate a previously suspended license. Prosecution did not object.

Acting Commissioner Arion Claggett had no new information to report.

Board Administrator Jeannie Bronshtein had nothing to report.

The next meeting is March 17, 2023, @10:30 AM, with both in-person and virtual options for attendees.

Future 2023 dates were announced: May 25, July 21, September 28, and November 8.

This Month in PA Bulletin

The Department of Environmental Protection’s State Board for Certification of Sewage Enforcement Officers published the examination schedule for 2023. The complete list and additional information can be found on the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Examination applications can be obtained by contacting the Department of Environmental Protection, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, PO Box 8774, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8774,, or (717) 772-2186.

Legislative Activity 

The following bills and co-sponsorship memos for bills to be introduced of interest to PSPE were acted on by the General Assembly this past month. 

HCO 965 (Delozier) - Legislation to amend the public works contracting provisions of Title 62 PACS (former HB 1281) Prohibits a government agency intending to enter in a public works contract from preparing contract specifications that are exclusionary or discriminatory.

Filed 1/24/2023

HCO 890 (Burgos) -  Mechanical Insulation Installation Tax Credit Aims to provide up to a 30% tax credit to motivate owners, developers, and contractors to install mechanical insulation using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard for projects.
Filed 1/19/2023

SB 80 RE: Decks (by Sen. Michele Brooks, et al)

Amends the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act, in preliminary provisions, further excludes the act from applying to: decks that are no more than 30 inches above grade at any point, attached or accessory to a residential building; Accessory structures that are attached to a residential building that cover an entrance way and no more than one story high and not more than 200-square feet; and patio covers as defined in the 2009 International Residential Code.

Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 1/12/2023

SB 199  RE: EQB Terms (by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, et al)

Amends the Environmental Hearing Board Act providing for Environmental Hearing Board. Adds that after the expiration of a term of a member of the board, that member should be reappointed by the governor with the consent of a majority of the Senate.

Introduced and referred to Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, 1/19/2023 

Cosponsor memos filed

HCO 653 (E. Nelson) - Pennsylvania Construction Code Transparency  Requires written descriptions of deficiencies, including code citations, be provided to a permit holder when a project fails a code inspection, provides additional disclosures for permit applications, and codifies regulations.

Filed, 1/3/2023

HCO 826 (Struzzi) -  Storm Water Legislation (Former HB 1287 & HB 1288) Amends the Third Class Cities Code, the Borough Code, the First Class Township Code, and the Incorporated Towns Act to authorize municipalities to plan, design, and construct storm water management systems and dedicate funds.

Filed, 1/12/2023

 HCO 869 (Bullock) - Environmental Justice - Permit Applications Requires a more transparent and open process before certain facilities are built or expanded within areas defined as "burdened communities."

Filed, 1/18/2023

 HCO 879 (Delozier) -  Legislation to Create a Building Code Official “Trainee” Program (former House Bill 1089) Creates a building code official "trainee" program to ensure a sufficient number of building code officials.

Filed, 1/18/2023

SCO 549 (Laughlin) -  PA Construction Code Act Provides options for the selection of a third-party agency to review construction documents and perform inspection services.

Filed, 1/5/2023

SCO 554 (Laughlin) -  Amending Sewage Facility Act to Allow Garage Floor Drains Allows garage floor drains to be discharged to a treatment tank of an on-lot sewage system.

Filed, 1/6/2023

SB 190
RE: Economically Significant Regulations (by Sen. Michele Brooks, et al)

Amends the Regulatory Review Act further providing for definitions and for existing regulations. Adds the definition for "economically significant regulation," and requires the agency to report to the commission the status, impact, and direct and indirect cost of any economically significant regulation in effect for three years.

Introduced and referred to Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, 1/19/2023

Cosponsor memos filed

 SCO 546 (Kearney) - Restarting PlanCon Opens applications to the maintenance program created under Act 70 for a temporary three-year period. Following three years, the Department of Education opens the program for PlanCon projects with the program returning to a 20 percent share.

Filed 1/4/2023


SCO 591 (Langerholc) - Reducing Project Delivery Costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Reduces project delivery costs at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) by reforming environmental regulations and placing PTC under the same exemption from local municipal ordinances as PennDOT.

Filed, 1/12/2023 

SB 42  RE: School to Work Program (by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, et al)

Act establishing the School-to-Work Program; and imposing powers and duties on the Department of Labor and Industry.

Introduced and referred to Senate Labor and Industry Committee, 1/19/2023

Cosponsor memos filed

HCO 805  (Bizzarro) - Strengthening the Industry Partnerships Program Proposes strengthening the Industry Partnerships Program.

Filed, 1/12/2023

Upcoming Meetings of Interest

Some House Committee meetings and session can be viewed online at:
Senate Committee meetings and session can be streamed at:

Next meeting date |  March 16, 2023

Individuals can join the virtual meetings by means of Zoom. The virtual meeting ID is 991 2180 9216. The passcode is 170867.

Questions concerning these virtual meetings may be directed to Kristen Gardner at (717) 346-1497.

All meetings are scheduled to begin at 10 AM.

Session days for the House have not been announced.

February        27, 28

March             1, 6, 7, 8

April                24, 25, 26

May                 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10

June                5, 6, 7, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

1 Technology Park, Commonwealth Technology Center (CTC), Harrisburg, PA 17110

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM

2023 Meeting Schedule:

  • March 16
  • June 8
  • August 10
  • November 16