Legislative Update

Legislative Update

SEPT. 21, 2023

The Senate was in session this week and will return to Harrisburg on Oct. 2. The House remains adjourned until Tuesday.


Democrats retain one-seat edge

Democrat Lindsay Powell’s victory in a special election Tuesday ensured Democrats will hold on to a 102-101 majority in the House. Powell will fill Pittsburgh’s 21st state House seat vacated this summer by former Rep. Sara Innamorato, who resigned from the General Assembly to run for Allegheny County executive. A former congressional aide, Powell is the director of workforce strategies for InnovatePGH, a public-private partnership created to make Pittsburgh a leading tech hub. Read more from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Associated Press.


Senate Judiciary Committee passes bill which would expand Clean Slate limited access

HB 689, filed by Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) and Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), which passed the full House in June, was before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Delozier spoke before the committee in favor of the bill. Sen. Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria) raised concerns on expanding Clean Slate when there is widespread misinterpretation of the existing law by county clerks throughout the state, where clerks are sealing records involving offenses not eligible for Clean Slate when those offenses are associated with lesser offenses that are eligible. Langerholc intends to introduce a floor amendment containing language intended to help solve this problem. The chair of the committee, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), stated that she would organize the bill sponsors, stakeholders, and the committee to confer and work toward including a solution to this misinterpretation problem in the bill. PNA will work with this group on achieving a workable answer to this issue.

The bill was amended in committee to include a provision providing for the automatic expungement of pardons and passed favorably out of committee. It will now go to the full Senate.


Cutler talks transparency at Press Club

House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) was the featured speaker Monday at the monthly Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at Hilton Harrisburg. Cutler underscored the importance of the media in ensuring legislative accountability. During the interactive session, he highlighted the need to consider a comprehensive revision of the Right-to-Know Law due to its limited provisions concerning state funding. He discussed the need for greater transparency of the state-related universities, which is needed for a school funding deal to receive GOP support. For more, visit PennLive.


SEPT. 14, 2023

The General Assembly remains in summer recess. The Senate returns to session Monday, the House on Sept. 26.


House membership outlook

The House has already seen four special elections in this new legislative session, and another is set for Tuesday to fill the 21st state House seat held by former state Rep. Sara Innamorato, a Democrat who resigned to run for Allegheny County executive. Vying to succeed her are Democrat Lindsay Powell, director of workforce strategies for InnovatePGH, a Pittsburgh nonprofit economic development organization, and Erin Connolly Autenreith, a Realtor and chairwoman of the Shaler Township Republican Committee.

State Rep. Robert Mercuri (R-Allegheny) is a candidate for his party’s nomination to challenge Democrat U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio for the 17th Congressional District seat. Mercuri does not plan to simultaneously run for re-election to the state House.


State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh) is seeking next year’s GOP nomination for the 7th Congressional District seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild. He will not run for re-election in the state’s lower chamber.


State Rep. John Galloway (D-Bucks) won Democratic and Republican primaries for Falls Township magisterial district judge. He will not vacate his seat in the state House until shortly after the start of 2024. His seat is expected to be filled through another special election.


Visit the Pennsylvania Capital-Star for more on recent and anticipated General Assembly changes.


House bill would amend RTKL, requiring agencies to provide live phone services

Rep. Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery) has filed HB 1671, which would add a provision to the Right to Know Law that would bar state agencies from utilizing computer systems or automated telephone answering systems that would impede members of the public from speaking with a live agency employee when a member of the public calls a publicly accessible telephone number.


Rep. seeks to require improved transparency on the use of Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust funding

Rep. Andrew Kuzma (R-Allegheny) has filed a co-sponsor memo which would require the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to compile an annual report on how Pennsylvania’s opioid settlement funds are used. The memo notes that 85% of the settlement funds that come to Pennsylvania are distributed directly to counties and local governments. Counties and local governments are required to submit reports on these funds to Pennsylvania’s Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust and the contemplated legislation would simply require DDAP to aggregate these reports.