How a Slim Majority for Pa House Democrats Could Impact Productivity
HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - There will be a new party running the show in the Pennsylvania House. Democrats have won control of the lower chamber for the first time in twelve years.
“We couldn't be more excited. That gives us 102 members and the official majority in the Pennsylvania House,” said Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie).
On Tuesday, voters in Allegheny County made their voices heard in the three special elections. Democrats secured the 32nd, 34th and 35th House Districts, giving them a House majority for the first time in 12 years. However, they face an uphill battle with only a one-seat majority.
“We have a very slim majority. There are 203 members in the House of Representatives. We have 102. We have the majority by one vote,” said Bizzarro, who will now serve as Chairman of the Majority Policy Committee, a key leadership role that determines legislative priorities for his caucus. “We're under no illusion, and nobody should be, that this is going to be easy. There's going to be a lot of give and take,” Bizzarro added.
Whether a slim majority can pave the way for more bipartisan legislation and compromise will be on display once lawmakers return later this month. So far, the session has been anything but productive with a House that has been hampered by gridlock.
"I would imagine that since they've been in the minority for a dozen years, that they understand that they need to be ready to get their agenda into motion,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bloodworth of Gannon University.
Bloodworth suspects House Democrats have a plan for the current circumstances and may even try reaching across the aisle.
“This is a closely divided state. One would think an olive branch to Republicans might be the smart thing,” said Bloodworth.
The House is scheduled to return to Harrisburg on Feb. 21. Once the new members are sworn in, the Democratic-controlled House is expected to consider two bills that would provide a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual assault.