Politics in Pennsylvania is tense It could quickly devolve into complete chaos

Politics in Pennsylvania
Politics in Pennsylvania

The state House is a shambles, with both parties claiming majority status and Republicans potentially passing amendments after Democrats won more seats.

Democrats in Pennsylvania won a majority of state House seats this fall, fueled by voter outrage over Roe v. Wade’s demise.

But it’s anyone’s guess which party will hold the Speaker’s gavel next year. A razor-thin Democratic victory, combined with a handful of vacancies and the state capitol’s hardball political culture, has sparked a high-stakes battle for House control.

The crux of the issue is a disagreement over which party has the authority to call special elections to fill vacant seats when two Democratic state House members resigned for higher office and another died. Democrats want to hold the elections, which they are expected to win, to claim a majority next year as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Republican legislators hope to push the deadline back three months, preserving their majority. One Republican has even declared her candidature for Speaker, hoping to capitalise on the likely brief window in which the partisan balance of power favours her party.

Politics in Pennsylvania; image from TribLIVE.com

Both parties see the ensuing conflict as a battle for democratic governance and the rule of law in general.

They privately fear that the next few weeks will throw the state into unprecedented chaos. If Republicans are successful, they may be able to use their control window to pass constitutional amendments requiring voter ID, easing regulatory rollbacks, and potentially even limiting abortion rights. Attempts to amend the state constitution were passed during the previous session. If they give in two consecutive sessions, they will be placed on the ballot for voters to consider without the signature of Democratic Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro.

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