HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania has a speaker. He just isn’t speaking.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi is making history. He said he’ll be the first independent speaker in Pennsylvania history, beholden to neither Democrats nor Republicans.
He was elected as a Democrat from Berks County. Whether he’ll change his party registration is one of many questions for the new speaker.
On Friday morning, Rozzi had to appear on the House floor briefly, and abc27’s Dennis Owens was there to try to get answers. It was a very brief exchange, and Rozzi did not take Owens’ questions.
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Rozzi appeared on the House floor to officially close session from another day — really just a technicality — and he was in and out in minutes.
It is still unclear which party will control committees and which party will control the legislative calendar.
Rozzi promised to address the media “soon” but didn’t define soon.
Former speaker Republican Bryan Cutler from Lancaster, who engineered the unusual speaker arrangement, is optimistic about it even if it is off to a sluggish start.
“I think it’s very exciting given the political dynamic here in the commonwealth. It’s such a close division here in our chamber. I think that an independent speaker is exactly the right way to go because it’ll really help us to come together and work together,” Cutler said.
Cutler said one of Rozzi’s top priorities will be getting an amendment allowing survivors of childhood sexual abuse to sue their abusers after the statute of limitations has run out. He said Republicans also want amendments on voter ID and giving lawmakers power to stop governor regulations with a majority.
They need to pass those bills by early February in order for them to make it onto the May primary ballot.
Cutler and Republicans also said Rozzi will be a “capital I” Independent — as in, not a Democrat. Democrats say he told them he’ll remain a Democrat.