State Rep Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, was elected Tuesday as the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, becoming the first woman and the second Black individual to hold the position.
McClintock’s election came after state Rep Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, stepped down. Her appointment was made by a straight party-line vote, 102-99, report PennLive and Spotlight PA: All 102 Democrats voted for her, while no Republican did.
She will be governing with a slim 102-101 majority, with the Democrats holding the majority for the first time in more than a decade.
“Rather than seeing our margin in this chamber as an obstacle, we can reframe it as an opportunity,” she said, according to PennLive.
Rozzi had held the speaker’s position for two months after being appointed in a bipartisan compromise. He used his role to advance a constitutional amendment opening a temporary window for victims of sexual abuse to sue their abusers.
He had promised to become an independent, which would have given the House a 101-101-1 split. In the end, he remained a Democrat. His actions as speaker angered Republicans, who had hoped to advance constitutional amendments requiring voter ID and limiting the governor’s power to set regulations. The goal was to pass them in time to place them on the May primary ballot.
In comments to Spotlight PA, Rozzi says he concluded Republicans were trying to “hoodwink” his colleagues by making him speaker, and decided to fight back.
The House has yet to adopt its session rules. Democrats say they want to give rank-and-file legislators more control over the legislative agenda, but some are wary of a move that could give power to Republicans.