The “red wave” many expected in Pennsylvania's statewide races ended very differently in reality on election night. Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro was elected governor, defeating state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, while. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated Republican Mehmet Oz in the race to succeed U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. Both results are historic, as Democrats will hold onto the governor's mansion for a third consecutive term for the first time in several decades, and with Fetterman's victory, Pennsylvania will have two Democrats in the U.S. Senate when he joins Sen. Bob Casey.
Several long-time House incumbents from both parties were unseated on November 8. Though it took over a week to finalize all of the race results, Democrats, as expected, gained just enough seats in the state House to surprisingly regain the majority in the chamber. In western Pennsylvania, Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, lost to Republican challenger Marla Brown, while on the other side of the state, Republican Reps. Chris Quinn, R-Delaware, Tim Hennessey (R-Chester), Todd Polinchok (R-Bucks) and Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), all were upset.
Democrats won 102 seats in the just-completed election cycle, good for a nominal majority.
But they are already actually down to 101 members because of the October death of Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny), and they could be down to 99 by Jan. 17, because Rep. Summer Lee has been elected to the U.S. House from Pittsburgh, and Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) is set to be the state’s new lieutenant governor.
Special elections will be required to fill all three seats, and although they all will likely be filled by Democrats, Republicans are not conceding the majority just yet. Those specials will be called by whoever is elected Speaker by the House on January 3.
The results were much more predictable in the state Senate, where the Republicans will hold a 28-22 majority in the new session, with each party retaining control of the seats it held going in, and Democrats regaining the seat previously held by retiring independent Sen. John Yudichak, who had left the Democrat caucus and sat with the Republicans for the past two years.
With control of the state House still to be decided, the chamber also faces a large number of open committee chairs that will contribute to the political uncertainty in the weeks ahead. The committee chairs play a vital role in legislative process and they bring their own styles, policy positions and decisions on whether to move or bottle up bills, often with leadership input
Senate Republicans elected their leadership team for the 2023-24 legislative session on November 15.
Sen. Kim Ward (R-39) has been elected to serve as interim Senate President Pro Tempore from Dec. 1 until Jan. 2. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the Senate will vote for a President Pro Tempore to serve for the new two-year legislative session. She becomes the first woman to hold the position, the third-highest post in Pennsylvania government. She previously served as Senate Majority Leader.
The President Pro Tempore is responsible for appointing the chairpersons and members of the 22 standing committees of the Senate and serves as an ex-officio member of all committees. She presides over the Senate floor when the Lieutenant Governor is unavailable and fills the position of Lieutenant Governor if the office becomes vacant. The office also refers bills and resolutions to the appropriate Senate committees for consideration.
Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) will serve as Senate Majority Leader. His duties include overseeing the legislative agenda, developing policies and strategies for the Senate Republican Caucus, and playing a key role in floor debates. He also has a major role in negotiating issues with the Administration and House of Representatives and in coordinating action on the Senate floor. Pittman previously chaired the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.
Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36) was elected Majority Whip. The duties include acting as assistant floor leader, working to gain support for legislation and ensuring that Republican policies and strategies are maintained through the cooperative efforts of the majority caucus.
Sen. Scott Martin (R-13) will chair the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee reviews all legislation for its fiscal impact and plays a crucial role in negotiating and developing the state budget.
Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-28) will serve as Majority Caucus Chair for the 2023-24 legislative session. The chair presides over Republican caucus meetings to discuss bills and amendments and to develop caucus strategy.
Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-46) was elected Senate Majority Caucus Secretary to oversee all executive nominations submitted to the Senate for confirmation. She will coordinate the review of the background and experience of nominees and ensure that proper documentation is submitted.
Senate Republican Leadership:
- Interim President Pro Tempore: Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland)
- Leader: Joe Pittman (R-Indiana)
- Whip: Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster)
- Appropriations Chair: Scott Martin (R-Lancaster)
- Caucus Chair: Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York)
- Caucus Secretary: Camera Bartolotta (R- Washington)
- Policy Chair: Dan Laughlin (R-Erie)*
- Caucus Administrator: Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne)*
Senate Democratic Leadership:
- Leader: Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)
- Whip: Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia)
- Appropriations Chair: Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia)
- Appropriations Vice Chair: Tim Kearney (D-Delaware)
- Whip: Tina Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia)
- Caucus Chair: Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny)
- Caucus Secretary: Maria Collett (D-Montgomery)
- Caucus Administrator: Judy Schwank (D-Berks)
- Policy Chair: Katie Muth (D-Montgomery)
The surprising flip of the state House to Democrat majority will not be cemented until three special elections are held in the spring, which are expected to give the Democrats back the 102-101 majority they won in the November elections. In the interim, the respective caucuses held internal leadership elections in November. As expected, Democrat leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) and current House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) were re-elected to the top spots by their caucuses, and will likely face off against each other when the House convenes on January 3, to serve the chamber as Speaker in the new session. Due to the House changing its operating rules on the final voting session day in November, all votes for Speaker must be cast in person next year, with no remote voting option. This change, which was voted on strictly party lines, to reverse the pandemic voting rules, may be problematic for McClinton and the Democrats, as one of the elected caucus members, Anthony DeLuca, passed away just prior to his re-election, and Rep. Summer Lee (D-Allegheny) will be sworn in to Congress in DC on that same day, perhaps giving the Republicans at least temporary control of the House.
House Democratic Leadership:
- Leader: Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia)
- Appropriations Chairman: Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery)
- Whip: Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia)
- Caucus Chair: Dan Miller (D-Allegheny)
- Caucus Secretary: Tina Davis (D-Bucks)
- Caucus Administrator: Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh)
- Policy Chair: Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie)
House Republican Leadership:
- Leader: Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)
- Appropriations Chairman: Seth Grove (R-York)
- Whip: Tim O’Neal (R-Washington)
- Caucus Chair: George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland)
- Caucus Secretary: Martina White (R-Philadelphia)
- Caucus Administrator: Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland)
- Policy Chair: Josh Kail (R-Beaver)
State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists November 8 Meeting Notes
The State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists met on November 8, via hybrid meeting format, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following are the highlights.
- Board President Jim Szalankiewicz, PE, PLS, presided, and welcomed the members and sunshine attendees.
- Board member Joe McNally, PG, reported on the recent ASBOG meeting. Member Mike Brinkash, PLS, reported that HB 609 was not passed by the Senate. They have one remaining voting session day. Frank Stanton, Jr. PE, reporting on attending an NCEES Ethics seminar.
- Board Prosecution Liaison Ray Michalowski, Esq., had four 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
- Acting Commissioner Arion Claggett had no new information to report.
- Board Administrator Jeannie Bronshtein had nothing to report.
- The Board held elections of officers for 2023. Joe McNally, PG, was elected Board President. Robert Kudlawiec, PE was elected Vice President. Stanton asked what happens if Kulawiec’s term ends and he is not reappointed. Fritz explained they would elect a new VP. Stanton noted he is working on recruiting new PEs for Board service.
The next meeting is January 23, 2023, @10:30 AM, with both in-person and virtual options for attendees.
Future 2023 dates were announced: March 17, May 25, July 21, September 28, and November 8.
This Month in PA Bulletin
The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) proposed an amendment of § 43b.201 (relating to fees for services) and the addition of Subchapter E (relating to consideration of criminal convictions). The proposed amendment codified a service fee, adds further definitions, adds a process to request preliminary determination, adds requirements for licensing, adds clarifications for drug trafficking and adds a schedule of criminal convictions that may constitute grounds to refuse to issue, suspend or revoke a license, certificate, registration or permit for each of the 29 professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions. More information and the full text can be found on the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, recommendations or objections to Cynthia Montgomery, counsel to the commissioner, PO Box 69523, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9523, or via email to RASTRegulatoryCounsel@pa.gov , within 30 days (December 19, 2022) following publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The subject line ''16A-66 (Consideration of Criminal Convictions)'' should be included when submitting comments by e-mail.
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.
Note: Per recent tradition, the House and Senate did not hold votes on legislation after the November 8 election, though they did have votes on procedural matters, including electing interim Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, amending the voting rules in to repeal remote voting on floor votes, and to set up the impeachment proceedings on Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.
All bills that did not reach the Governor by November 30 died, and would need to be reintroduced and begin the process anew in the next session, which begins on January 3, 2023.