House and Senate Choose New Leadership for Next Session
The House and Senate met November 12 to elect their leaders for 2015-16. Both the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tem will be officially elected on January 6 when the new legislature is sworn in, but it is unlikely that there will be any Denny O’Brien surprises this time. Below are the new leaders. There are changes in all four caucuses, due in part to retirements, and in part to internal political moves.
Current House Majority Leader Mike Turzai will ascend to the Speaker’s chair, and will be succeeded as leader by Rep. Dave Reed. Sen. Jake Corman defeated long-time Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to lead the Senate Republicans next session. Sen. John Gordner will move up to Senate Majority Whip, the third highest position in the caucus, depending on where you place Appropriations Chair. In the House, Lancaster’s Bryan Cutler replaces York’s Stan Saylor as Whip, after Saylor lost to Reed.
The committees will be announced in January, when that level of strategy will take shape. It is likely that Tommy Tomlinson will remain the Chair of Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure, not as clear, but probable, that Rep. Julie Harhart will retain the helm of Professional Licensure in the House. The Democrat chairs will likely stay the same (Rep. Harry Readshaw and Sen. Lisa Boscola).
Senate Republican Leadership:
Interim President Pro Tempore: Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson)**Full Senate Vote on 1/6/15**
Leader: Jake Corman (R-Centre)
Appropriations Chairman: Patrick Browne (R-Lehigh)
Whip: John Gordner (R-Columbia)
Caucus Chair: Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery)
Caucus Secretary: Richard Alloway (R-Franklin)
Caucus Administrator: Chuck McIlhinney (R-Bucks)
Policy Chair: David Argall (R-Schuylkill)
Senate Democratic Leadership:
Leader: Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)
Appropriations Chair: Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia)
Whip: Anthony Williams (D-Philadelphia)
Caucus Chair: Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny)
Caucus Secretary: Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia)
Caucus Administrator: John Yudichak (D-Luzerne)
Policy Chair: Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton)
House Republican Leadership:
Speaker-Designee: Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny)**Full House Vote on 1/6/15**
Leader: David Reed (R-Indiana)
Appropriations Chairman: William Adolph (R-Delaware)
Whip: Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)
Caucus Chair: Sandra Major (R-Susquehanna)
Caucus Secretary: Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion)
Caucus Administrator: Brian Ellis (R-Butler)
Policy Chair: Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre)
House Democratic Leadership:
Leader: Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny)
Appropriations Chairman: Joseph Markosek (D-Allegheny)
Whip: Mike Hanna (D-Clinton)
Caucus Chair: Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny)
Caucus Secretary: Rosita Youngblood (D-Philadelphia)
Caucus Administrator: Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill)
Policy Chair: Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster)
Wolf Transition Team Announced
Governor-Elect Tom Wolf announced the members of his transition team on November 13, and there aren’t too many unfamiliar faces. Serving as Chair and Vice Chairs are John Fry, President of Drexel University, and York City Mayor Kim Bracey, Cindy Shapira, community leader, and Jim Brown, Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Casey. Chair and Vice Chair of the Budget Deficit and Fiscal Stabilization Task Force will be former Budget Secretary Mary Soderberg and former State Representative and Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. Denise Smyler will be the Team’s legal counsel.
Wolf also announced this month that his former primary opponent, Kathleen McGinty, who served as DEP Secretary under former Gov. Ed Rendell, will serve as Chief of Staff in the new Administration. This is viewed as both a nod to other factions of the party, and a potential platform for McGinty to run for other office, possibly a 2016 run against Sen. Pat Toomey. Another former DEP Secretary and primary challenger for Governor, John Hanger, is also helping with the transition. Whether he will be offered a job with the Administration remains to be seen.
Legislative Activity
NO bills of interest to PSPE were acted on by the General Assembly this past month.
The House and Senate adjourned the 2013-14 session “sine die” on November 30. The new General Assembly will take the oath of office on Tuesday, January 6. Gov.-Elect Wolf will be sworn in on January 20, 2015.
The 2015-16 session schedule has not been published yet. Although there has been talk of possible session days during the final two weeks of Gov. Corbett’s term, it remains unlikely that any legislation of substance will be passed in that timeframe.
Copies of all bills of interest can be accessed here.