Divided Pennsylvania House elects Democrat Rep. Mark Rozzi as speaker

Republicans were unable to convert their 101-99 majority into a vote to retain the speakership.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Divided Pennsylvania House elects Democrat Rozzi as speaker
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The chamber voted 115-85 to make Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County its speaker after Republicans were unable to convert their 101-99 majority into a vote to retain the speakership.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The narrowly divided state House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved a logjam over control of the chamber by making its new speaker a Reading-area Democrat who was nominated by western Pennsylvania conservative Republicans.

The chamber voted 115-85 to make Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County its speaker after Republicans were unable to convert their 101-99 majority into a vote to retain the speakership.

Rozzi, who began his sixth two-year term this week, is best known as a champion of the effort to provide a two-year window in which victims of child sexual abuse can sue over otherwise outdated claims.

FILE - Pennsylvania state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, speaks before Gov. Tom Wolf signs legislation into law at Muhlenberg High School in Reading, Pa., on Nov. 26, 2019.
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The child sexual abuse lawsuit window has not been enacted, but Rozzi and others have advanced a constitutional amendment that will go before voters if both chambers give it a second round of approvals over the coming two years.

Democrats had hoped to elevate their floor leader, Philadelphia Rep. Joanna McClinton, to become the state's first woman speaker, but with the chamber so close their attempt to delay the proceedings for seven weeks failed. If that had worked, the Democrats would have had time to fill three vacant seats.

Instead, Rozzi overcame the rival candidacy of Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Somerset, who received 85 votes.