PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE CLUSTERFU ... Wait, Actually, Power Transfer All Quite Civilized!
Joanna McClinton at an abortion rights rally, 2022. Photo: Gov. Tom Wolf, Creative Commons License 2.0

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi (D) stepped down this morning, clearing the way for the Democrats to elect Rep. Joanna McClinton the body's new speaker shortly after. The election of McClinton brings to an end nearly two months of needless chaos in the state House. Hooray for an end to clusterfuckery!

As you may recall, Democrats flipped a dozen seats to win control of the state House in the fall midterms, resulting in a narrow lead of 102 seats to the Republicans' 101 seats, but there were complications: One of the winning Dems, Rep. Tony DeLuca, died shortly before the election (he won anyway), and new Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro appointed two other members to jobs in his administration.

Rather than accepting the results of the November elections, Republicans decided that since they had more actual butts in seats, they wouldn't recognize the Democratic majority, no sir. After some maneuvering, a few moderate Republicans joined all the Democrats to elect Rozzi, a Democrat, as a kind of caretaker speaker until special elections could be held to fill the three empty seats. Rozzi pledged to act as a nonpartisan leader but didn't change his party affiliation, and some Republicans even whined about that.

In special elections on February 7, all three of the vacant seats — in safe D districts anyway — went to Democrats, and so today Rozzi stepped down and McClinton was elected Pennsylvania's first woman speaker of the House. She's only the second Black speaker of the House; K. Leroy Irvis was the first, in 1977.

In her acceptance speech today, McClinton addressed the weirdness of the past couple months, saying it was time to actually get to work. "We don’t have to disparage each other,” she said. “We can replace our short-sighted political game." Unlike your radical commie Democrats' usual practice, she chose not to declare this Year Zero and has no plans to erase the history books. Heck, she even said she won't even silence Republicans, but also made clear that she won't stand for any attempts to do culture wars, either:

“Today is a fresh start,” McClinton said. “We’re going to stand against every form of discrimination. We’re going to have rules that protect women, people of color, LGBTQIA+.”

“While we didn’t have the opportunities to pass those types of reforms before, today’s a fresh start,” McClinton added.

Rozzi used his brief time as speaker to pass a pair of bills that would give survivors of child sexual assault a two-year window to sue their abusers and institutions that protected them (i.e., Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania), even though the statute of limiitations has expired; he's a victim himself and has tried several times to get action on the bills. They finally passed last Friday, and Rozzi announced he was resigning this morning at the beginning of the session.

The Philadelphia Inquirer also notes that Rozzi spent his first month as speaker meeting with a group of three Democratic and three Republican House members to reform House rules so that a majority of House members "should be able to carry the day" without procedural trickery or even interference from House leadership. As he stepped down as speaker — he'll keep his House seat — Rozzi offered his endorsement to McClinton as the next speaker, saying she is "one of the most intelligent and compassionate women I have met in politics."

McClinton has served in the House since 2015, and is a native of Philadelphia. She graduated from LaSalle University and Villanova Law School, and has served as an attorney for the state Senate, and as a public defender, and Crom knows we need more former public defenders in government.

Good luck Madam Speaker. Keep an eye on those Republicans; your state grows 'em pretty weird.

[Philadelphia inquirer / Post-Gazette / NBC Philadelphia / Photo: Gov. Tom Wolf, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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