HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Amid a six week stalemate Pennsylvania lawmakers returned to the state capitol in Harrisburg for a special session on Tuesday and passed their first legislation.
Late Monday night, House Speaker Mark Rozzi sent members a list of “Rozzi rules” that have been in development for several weeks. Those rules passed by a vote of 102-99 with three new Democratic lawmakers sworn in and two Republicans not in attendance.
The House also passed a constitutional amendment and a law that gives child sex abuse survivors the ability to sue their alleged abusers outside of the statute of limitations during a two year window.
Those bills passed 102-99 and Republicans argued after not being able to debate or amend the legislation, calling it undemocratic and unfair.
“I don’t believe that’s the proper way to run the House,” said Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster). “We recognize they have a one-seat majority, but this kind of heavy-handedness with a one-seat majority I think sets very bad precedent going forward. It’s something we never did in the majority and I’m very sad to see them do it.”
Democrats said that’s how they felt the last 12 years under Republican control.
“Being in the majority you dictate the agenda,” said State Rep. Tim Briggs (D-Montgomery). “It would be nice to be able to find some consensus, some common ground, but bottom line we have to move on this. Victims have been waiting too long and if it needs just 102 votes we will deliver them.”
Speaker Rozzi said he was “really happy with the way things went down today” following the session.
“The biggest thing is that victims want to expose these perpetrators cause still out there living among us so if we can protect future generations of children from being abused why wouldn’t do that,” said Rozzi.
It’s unclear how the Republican-controlled State Senate will handle the House’s versions of the two bills.
Special election victories earlier this year gave Democrats a 102-101 majority, which is the first time in 12 years that Democrats will control the House chamber.
Upon being elected speaker earlier this year Rozzi vowed to not pass any other legislation until the sex abuse amendment passed.
Whether Rozzi remains Speaker after this week’s special session remains to be seen.