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New Legislature sworn in; new midstaters take oath - abc27 WHTM

New Legislature sworn in; new midstaters take oath

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A new year wasn't all that was heralded at the Capitol on January 1. A new legislative session was sworn in and several midstater legislators took the oath for the first time. But, if they are  looking for a lengthy and slow transition into elected office, they sure aren't showing it.

"I'm not really here to sit around and watch," said Republican Mike Regan, who replaced Scott Perry to represent York and Cumberland counties. "The people elected me to go to work and I look forward to working very hard."

Regan is a former U.S. Marshal who is working on legislation that would put retired, armed police officers in schools. He began working on it the day after the Newtown, Conn. shootings.

"We have our most vulnerable, precious citizens behind a glass door and a buzzer. I think we need to step that up and protect our kids and our teachers in our schools," Regan said. "You need to have real highly qualified people. You don't want to just put anybody in school with a gun. I talking about high caliber individuals who had a good record as a police officer and would do something that's valuable."

Newly-elected Democratic Senator Rob Teplitz, who replaces longtime lawmaker Jeff Piccola in Harrisburg and its suburbs, promises a package of government reform bills in the next few weeks.

"[I want to] audit the legislative slush fund, end the automatic colas, non-partisan redistricting, on and on and on," Teplitz rattled them off. These are "best practices from other states in terms of good government."

Teplitz says he got some of his ideas from working in the auditor general's office for the past eight years. The specific reforms he mentioned certainly sound good to average voters but will this legislative rookie be able to get the proposals past leadership that's typically resistant to such reform?

"I think there's an appetite for it and we're gonna fight to make that a priority here," Teplitz said.

Harrisburg also has a new state representative in Democrat Patty Kim, a newswoman-turned city council woman-turned state lawmaker. She says the city's financial and educational crises will be her top priority and she's trying to thaw her traditionally icy relationship with Mayor Linda Thompson.

"We're in a dire situation, so [the mayor and I] met last week and agreed we need to work together and meet once a month to be on the same page. She agreed and we're gonna do it," Kim said.

But the real work will start on January 2. Swearing in day is one for families, friends and memories.

Teplitz two boys were more interested in the Disney Channel on his office television than their father's pomp and circumstance.

Kim's two children loved mugging for the cameras.

The rotunda was full of well-wishers who watched the ceremonies on closed-circuit tv.

But the long-distance award likely goes to Patty Kim's father, who flew in from South Africa to see his daughter become the first Asian-American woman in the history of Pennsylvania's legislature.

"It's an historical moment for me," Wayne Kim said. "I'm so happy."

Three new Republicans, Mindy Fee, Keith Greiner, and Steven Mentzer, will represent Lancaster County in the state house.

The first session day for the 197th Pennsylvania Legislature is January 14.

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