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PA GOP Legislators to Shapiro: Support Texas’ Efforts To Secure the U.S. Border

With the U.S. southern border in chaos, Pennsylvania Republicans are supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in his efforts to prevent waves of illegal immigrants from crossing into the U.S. And they want Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) to step up, too.

In December, Customs and Border Patrol reported a record 302,000 migrant encounters at the U.S./Mexico border. More than 7 million illegal immigrants have crossed into the country since President Joe Biden took office three years ago, according to the House Homeland Security Committee.

One of Biden’s first acts was to stop construction work on the border wall initiated by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39), Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-41), Appropriations Committee Chair Scott Martin (R-13), and Majority Whip Ryan P. Aument (R-36) circulated a co-sponsor memo Wednesday for a resolution affirming Abbott is lawfully exercising his constitutional authority to defend his state and its citizens.

It comes in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Border Patrol agents to cut razor wire that Texas forces deployed along the Rio Grande in an attempt to prevent illegal border crossings.

The Senate resolution also calls on Shapiro to join 25 GOP governors across the country publicly endorsing Abbott’s actions. The resolution also calls on the Biden administration to stop fighting Texas’ efforts and instead commit resources to support the Lone Star State in securing the border.

“Many of us are hearing from our constituents who are concerned with this troubling crisis and who have expressed a desire for us to help take a stand against the Biden administration’s disastrous border policies. This resolution reflects our duty to uphold our oath to support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States and ensure the safety of its citizens,” the lawmakers said.

“State and local officials across this country have sounded the alarm regarding the straining of their resources, the scourge of fentanyl deaths, the tragedy of human trafficking, including children smuggled across the border, and the flow of illegal firearms and dangerous gang members; all exasperated by the disastrous enforcement at our borders by the Biden administration.”

The resolution will likely go before the full Senate for a vote next week.

Similarly, the letter penned by Rep. Michael Cabell (R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming) and signed by dozens of representatives calls on Shapiro and Attorney General Michelle Henry to support Texas’ Operation Lone Star.

“While Operation Lone Star should be credited for, in a relatively short span of time, apprehending approximately 500,000 undocumented immigrants and seizing enough Mexican fentanyl to kill the entire population of the United States, additional manpower and resources are urgently needed to stem the tides of unlawful migration, human trafficking, and deadly narcotics trafficking,” the letter to Shapiro reads.

“At a time when the federal government has demonstrated an unmistakable aversion to countering this ever-increasing surge in illegal immigration, we encourage you to honor your commitment to ensuring that Pennsylvania ‘does not leave any state with an oversized responsibility’ in addressing the crisis at our southern border. Indeed, like you, we believe that all states, including Pennsylvania, share an obligation to fight this crisis to safeguard our communities and uphold the rule of law.”

Delaware Valley Reps. John Lawrence (R-West Grove), Donna Scheuren (R-Gilbertsville), and Milou Mackenzie (R-Bethlehem) signed the letters.

Also, Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who ran against Shapiro for governor in 2022, called on Shapiro to send Pennsylvania National Guard troops to help Texas.

“Reckless federal government policies have created a crisis at our nation’s southern border,” Mastriano said. “Every state is now a border state. Pennsylvania has a compelling interest in helping secure the southern border of the United States. Fentanyl has flooded communities throughout our commonwealth, school districts are increasingly burdened, and strained social safety net funds are being diverted.”

Asked to comment, Shapiro’s spokesperson Manuel Bonder said, “Gov. Shapiro has been clear that our country needs a secure border and Congress needs to pass comprehensive reform to fix our broken immigration system. This issue requires leaders from both parties to step up and deliver real, comprehensive solutions — not the failed talking points and political grandstanding that have brought us decades without immigration reform.”

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O’NEAL: Chaos, Corruption, Scandal – Pennsylvania Democrats Put Power Over People


The beginning of 2023 ushered in a new day for Pennsylvania Democrats. The party had a new governor and, for the first time in over a decade, a one-seat majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

However, it was immediately clear that Democrats in Harrisburg are far more concerned with holding onto power at all costs rather than governing. Their constant political posturing has led to staggering gridlock, mistrust, and absolute chaos.

At the beginning of the year, an insecure Democrat leadership team totally shut down the state House for months because its majority was not cemented due to three vacancies in its caucus. Crucial time was lost leading up to the governor’s budget address because they refused to work with House Republicans. Since then, the Democrat majority has held the fewest number of voting session days in recent memory, creating one of the least productive legislative years in history.

In fact, as of this writing, Pennsylvania still does not have a completed budget thanks to a tantrum from House Democrats and a lack of leadership from Gov. Josh Shapiro. Shapiro came to a budget agreement with the state Senate centered on scholarships for children in failing schools. But apparently helping children in bad schools is unacceptable to House Democrats and their political allies, so they blew the compromise up.

This led to Shapiro weakly going back on his word, creating a costly budget impasse that has yet to be solved. The result is total mistrust among the branches of government and a lack of legislative direction that would enable hundreds of millions in funding to flow to programs and entities that sorely need it.

Speaking of the governor, Shapiro made his bones on the campaign trail by touting his commitment to responsible government and transparency. Apparently, he has totally abandoned this mantra. This may be due to Shapiro focusing his attention on his Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mike Vereb, who recently resigned in disgrace amidst a workplace sexual harassment scandal.

Vereb and Shapiro go way back and by now it is apparent that the governor kept this scandal under wraps for months, only acting after the media finally began asking questions. Even now, Shapiro has not been up front about the timeline of events and how the situation was handled internally. His lack of accountability should speak volumes to the victims for whom Shapiro has always claimed to protect. Perhaps the governor is too worried about his image and political future to stand up for the women on his staff.

If one sexual harassment scandal isn’t enough, let’s not forget about Democrat State Rep. Mike Zabel. Once again, House Democratic leadership was long aware that Zabel had been accused of assaulting a woman, yet no action was taken. When the charge was finally made public, numerous other women came forward to reveal similar experiences with the representative.

It is horrendous to think that if House Democrats would have acted Rep. Zabel may not have been able to assault other women. Apparently, they were more concerned with protecting their slim majority in the House.

Finally, irresponsible Democrat leadership goes beyond the Capitol building. This summer, it came to light that the executive director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm in Pennsylvania pocketed over $365,000 in reimbursements since 2021. After calls for an investigation, it was revealed that the committee could not even produce receipts for nearly $150,000 of those expenses, a blatant campaign finance violation that borderlines on corruption. Yet, we have not heard a peep on the matter from either the governor or his former aide who is now the attorney general.

With all that said, one thing is clear. Democrats are only concerned with holding onto power at all costs. From covering up scandals to shutting down state government, Democrats have done whatever it takes to put their political interests over the people of Pennsylvania.

We must do better in Harrisburg. People across the Commonwealth are struggling everyday with skyrocketing costs, economic uncertainty, and rising crime. There is simply no time to waste playing political games. Pennsylvania Democrats need to clean up their act or step aside and let the adults get to work.


O’Neal represents the 48th Legislative District in Washington County and serves as the Republican Whip.

Boyd Beats Ford in Special Election, Democrats Keep House

With the help of $1 million in campaign cash, Democrat Heather Boyd won Tuesday’s special election in House District 163 defeating Republican Katie Ford.

This leaves Democrats in control of the House after the resignation of Democratic Rep. Mike Zabel — forced from his seat by allegations of sexual assault — left the party’s majority in the chamber in doubt.

Unofficial election numbers as of Wednesday morning showed Boyd with 60 percent of the vote compared to Ford’s 38 percent. Libertarian Alfe Goodwin pulled down about 1.2 percent.

“This election has been about all of you in this room and countless others who aren’t here today who cared enough and believed enough and worked hard enough to make the difference,” Boyd told supporters at a post-election party.

In a statement Ford said, “At the end of the day, I ran a campaign with honesty and integrity and that is more important than winning.” On Facebook Ford wrote that she “knew [the race] would be an uphill battle.”

“I wanted to represent the incredible community we have here,” she said. “Unfortunately, we fell short and my opponent has won.”

The race became a major front for state Democrats over the past several months, with the party pouring around $1 million into the district to help shore up Boyd’s chances. Republicans, in contrast, spent around $150,000 backing Ford.

On the eve of the election, President Joe Biden swooped in to offer Boyd a boost. “With control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on the line, this race will determine the future of so many fundamental freedoms that Pennsylvanians hold dear,” Biden told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Heather is an experienced public servant who will protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, stand up for common sense gun safety laws and expand access to voting rights,” he said.

Berwood Yost, the director of the Center for Opinion Research and the Floyd Institute for Public Policy at Franklin and Marshall College, told DVJournal that these kinds of endorsements of state candidates have become “more common” in recent years.

“Barack Obama has endorsed many state legislative candidates the past few years,” he said. “Since a loss in this race would flip control of the state house, I’m not at all surprised that Biden provided his endorsement.”

Republicans tapped Ford for the slot in March of this year. A lifelong Upper Darby resident, she was trained as a combat medic and served in the U.S. Army for eight years.

Ford had touted her status as a political outsider.

“I’m not a politician and never have been,” she said this month. “What I am is a regular citizen tired of the politicians failing us and ready to step up and make a difference on crime, on inflation, on schools and education, and on helping real people.”

Boyd, on the other hand, has a well-established career in Democratic politics. The Upper Darby Democratic Committee chair, Boyd formerly worked for Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and was chief of staff for Delaware County state Rep. Leanne Krueger. She also served on the Upper Darby School Board from 2015-2018.

The race was kicked off earlier this year after Zabel resigned the seat in March amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment from female colleagues. At times, his alleged behavior was used as a line of attack from the Ford campaign.

Democrats “[chose] as my opponent the political boss who enabled Mr. Zabel’s re-election, even though news reports show she knew what was happening,” Ford claimed in March. Earlier this month she took a thinly veiled swipe at Boyd when she argued: “If someone comes to you and says they’re being sexually harassed, you do something about it. You don’t just let it go. And you don’t continue to endorse someone. You don’t continue to champion for them.”

Boyd, on the other hand, contended that she had worked to “change the rules to protect all women” in the state government.

“As a woman who has worked in Harrisburg, I’ve witnessed sexual harassment. I’ve experienced sexual harassment,” she said.

The significance of the race, and the control of the state House, was not lost on Democrats from Biden on downward.

“The control of the House is at stake, so we are not taking anything for granted,” Democratic Rep. Leanne Krueger told the Inquirer this month. Gov. Josh Shapiro filmed a TV ad for Boyd, focusing on abortion rights. That ad, along with another abortion rights spot and one that hit Ford on her family’s finances, ran continuously in the leadup to the election.

And Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney told media earlier this year: “The House majority runs through Delaware County in May.”

On Tuesday, it did just that.

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NELSON: Democrats’ Worker Safety Effort Is Not Ready for Primetime

As a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), I have dedicated nearly all my career to helping protect people, property, and the environment. I sincerely believe all workers deserve to be safe from bodily injury or harm in the workplace.

Unfortunately, legislation being pushed by public sector unions and their allies in the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus seeks to mandate public sector OSHA is an incomplete work that puts special interests over the best interests of Pennsylvania.

Their bill expands government and increases Harrisburg’s power over counties, townships, municipalities, and more, including the authority to levy fines and penalties on your community. That means higher property taxes from another unfunded mandate from Harrisburg.

Currently, without any legal requirement, state and local public employers provide significant safety measures for workers. Additionally, they ensure workers are protected from financial loss through workers’ compensation programs.

Before any legislation is passed, Pennsylvania should first answer one very basic question: Are public sector employees getting injured or killed at higher rates than their private sector counterparts? After multiple Labor and Industry hearings and a review by Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Safety Sciences, the answer is we do not know. The state does not have the data to compare with general industry.

Again, I believe workers need to be protected from injury and loss in the workplace. It is the right thing to do; however, the House Democrats’ proposal is not supported by data and is opposed by nearly every non-partisan organization representing the interests of local governments and school districts because of its likelihood to increase taxes on Pennsylvanians to support its implementation.

The fact that data do not support this legislation is important.

While there are horrific and avoidable stories of public sector workers being seriously injured on the job, Pennsylvanians should expect more than anecdotal evidence before their government implements a multi-million-dollar program.

We heard as much from the bipartisan County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, which testified in opposition to the implementation of unsupported public sector OSHA requirements at a hearing I held last session as chairman of the Workers Compensation and Worker Protection Subcommittee of the House Labor and Industry Committee.

They said, “Another critical concern for counties is that applying OSHA to counties would be very costly when compared to any potential benefit, both for counties and for the Commonwealth. Specifically with such proposals, we question the need for the legislation in the absence of statistics establishing that there is a worker safety problem in local government.”

That leads to a second and critical, component about why we should exercise extreme caution when looking to implement such stringent public workplace safety measures: the cost.

While IUP just this year has completed a cost feasibility study, the report has not yet been made public. Even at recent state budget hearings, the state Department of Labor and Industry leaders declined to share details about the report.

However, we do know that there will be costs for the Department of Labor and Industry to implement and enforce the new safety regime – on top of the costs to municipalities and school districts for safety inspectors, compliance officers, and fines and costs associated with worker safety above and beyond what is already provided in the Workers Compensation programs offered by government employers.

Under this public sector OSHA proposal being pushed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, no local government will be exempted from its requirements.

From school districts to boroughs and townships, every public sector employer would have to comply with these standards and will be subject to its penalties.

Fortunately, we are not without a path forward that balances the need for worker safety with the lack of empirical data necessary to support the advance of such a large undertaking.

This spring, I introduced House Bill 959, legislation developed with Republican and Democratic colleagues to collect and analyze public sector injury data. This responsible approach will enable Pennsylvania to learn how our workers are getting injured and prioritize focused improvements.

My bipartisan proposal reflects the results of what we heard in public testimony, coupled with stakeholder input, and would collect data from public employers to make an apples-to-apples comparison with the private sector on workplace injuries.

Indeed, it is irresponsible to mandate millions of taxpayer dollars for a program before we have the facts. Requiring thousands of pages of OSHA requirements developed over the last fifty years to apply to public employers will drown our local governments in paperwork and cannibalize limited resources from the areas that may need it the most.

We want a safer Pennsylvania, not a political win for special interest groups.

The so-called public sector OSHA proposal before the Pennsylvania House to enhance public sector safety mandates is an unworkable behemoth that is unsupported by empirical data and will lead to tax increases. Using a data-driven size and scope, we should choose a better path to prioritize worker safety.


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Two Women Vie to Fill Delco Vacancy Left by Zabel Resignation

Democratic state Rep. Mike Zabel was forced to resign his Drexel Hill seat three weeks ago following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate touching of women. With a special election set for May 16,  two women are now vying to fill that vacancy.

And while both candidates are female, they have very different backgrounds.

Democrats have nominated a political veteran, Upper Darby Democratic Committee Chair Heather Boyd. She formerly worked for Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and was chief of staff for Delaware County state Rep. Leanne Krueger. Boyd also served on the Upper Darby School Board from 2015-2018.

Republicans are countering with Katie Ford, an Army veteran and special education therapist who has never held elected office or worked in politics.

Boyd had the backing of the Democratic committee, which gave her 91 percent of the vote over two others who applied.

Heather Boyd

“As a former teacher and local mom, I am running to make sure that every person and family in our district gets the resources and representation they deserve,” said Boyd. “I will work tirelessly to make sure residents of the 153rd District have a seat at the table in Harrisburg.”

The state House is closely divided, with Democrats in control at the moment by one vote, so the contest for the 163rd will be a closely watched race.

“The House majority runs through Delaware County in May, and Heather Boyd is the clear and resounding choice of local Democrats,” said Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney.

Ford said she has never been involved in politics but decided to run to “make a difference for real people like you by serving communities every day. Service is part of who I am, be it as a trained combat medic in the U.S. Army, a local volunteer, an education advocate, or a special education therapist. Now is the time for regular citizens like myself to once again step forward and put the interests of people before the interests of politicians.”

While the 2023 special elections have been lopsided affairs thus far, Republican strategist Christopher Nicholas said voters should expect a competitive race. “Both House Democrats and Republicans realize this race will decide control of the chamber.”

Not surprisingly, Rep. Scanlon is endorsing her former staffer.

“I have known Heather Boyd for over a decade as a dedicated public servant and effective community organizer. She has been a valuable leader on my congressional team, sharing her passion for issues involving children and families, and helping develop a robust and responsive constituent services program that has assisted tens of thousands of people in our community.”

Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) said, “I’ve spoken with Katie, and she is a fantastic candidate for the State House! Her work and dedication to her community speaks for itself. Volunteer. Mom. Veteran. Please tell all your friends, family, and coworkers about Katie Ford.”

Ford brought up the sexual harassment scandal that caused Zabel’s resignation, saying that Boyd, as Upper Darby party chair, knew that he’d harassed his campaign manager.

“They have chosen as my opponent the political boss who enabled Mr. Zabel’s re-election, even though news reports show she knew what was happening. And even as she claims to fight for women. To this day, she still has not denounced what occurred. This is hypocritical and politics at its worst.”

“My opponent is the political boss who put into office local officials whose leadership, if we can call it that, has resulted in issues with (American Rescue Plan) funds, alleged fraud… It’s more of the same. Is that what we want?”

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Meet New DelVal State Rep. Kristin Marcell

Now that she has been sworn into her first term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to serve the people of Bucks County, Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) said she is ready to get to work.

“I’m honored to represent the residents of the 178th District, and I thank them for placing their faith in me to share their concerns and craft legislation to solve those problems,” Marcell said.

Before Marcell was elected to the House, she was a communications professional, Council Rock School Board member, and community volunteer. She is also a lifelong Bucks County resident and graduated from Council Rock High School in 1995.

Rep. Kristin Marcell and family

“As a native of Bucks County, I believe we need to bring people together to find common ground, establish relationships based on trust and respect, and get things done,” Marcell said. “Regardless of policy differences, we can work together to tackle difficult problems and take action to move forward for our communities – all without vitriol and personal attacks.”

Marcell brings extensive experience from both the public and private sectors to Harrisburg. After graduating from college, Marcell worked in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Transportation as the communications director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Marcell’s experience in the private sector included two decades of providing strategic and communications counsel to businesses in the energy, environmental, and utility industries.

“I’m passionate about ensuring people have a voice in government. Unfortunately, that was lost during the pandemic, something we must never lose as a democracy,” Marcell said. “Beyond that, there are many issues important to my constituents, including public safety, improving education, getting our economy moving again, and a host of local issues that I want to focus upon.”

In 2014, Marcell attended her first school board meeting as a concerned parent advocating alongside other community members to save their local elementary school from closure.

“During that community-driven effort, I realized there was more I could do to help all our children,” Marcell said. “That’s why I ran for the Council Rock School Board – to advocate for students, ensure parents have a say in their kids’ education, and focus on real priorities to protect homeowners and taxpayers.”

While on the school board, Marcell learned working together and taking action can make all the difference, whether as a small group like the school board or in a body of 203 members like the Pennsylvania House.

“From my vantage point on the Council Rock School Board, I saw firsthand how decisions in Harrisburg during the pandemic impacted our students, families, and small businesses,” Marcell added. “Our community deserves a strong voice fighting for them in the capital.”

In addition to her work on the school board, Marcell served on the Middle Bucks Institute of Technology’s Executive Council. Marcell’s educational background includes a BA in political science from Penn State and a master’s degree in public policy from George Washington University.

Marcell lives in Wrightstown with her husband, Steve, and their two children. Outside of work, Marcell enjoys spending time with friends. She is an avid Penn State and Philadelphia sports fan.

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PA State Senate to Join House in Closing

They might want to hang a “Closed for Business” sign on the door of the Pennsylvania State Capitol.

First, the state House closed. Now the state Senate announced it will be closed the weeks of Jan. 23 and Jan. 30 because the House is closed.

“Given that the House has not yet organized their chamber, our options for fully addressing legislative issues are limited at this time,” said Kate Flessner, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Armstrong).

“Additionally, the Commonwealth Court opinions on the impeachment process create more questions than answers, leaving our proceedings on the matter in flux.  Given that an open appeal period on the litigation runs through January 30, until further notice. No impeachment actions will be taken by the Senate,” Flessner said.

The Senate was to hold an impeachment trial for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Jan. 18. It was postponed after the court ruling.

In the closely divided House, several Republicans, including the leadership, had agreed to elect Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) as speaker. While the Republicans currently hold the majority at 101-99, the Democrats will likely be narrowly in the majority after special elections are held for three vacancies in heavily Democratic districts.

Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) had said they voted for Rozzi, a moderate who was nominated by Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), to keep progressive Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) out of the position.

“We prevented the progressive agenda from being able to move forward,” White said.

However, when Rozzi did not immediately change his party registration to independent as he had promised Republicans, including Gregory, called for him to step down. And the legislative session paused.

Rozzi adjourned the House and issued this statement. “In an effort to move things forward and to get Democrats and Republicans talking again, I am creating a workgroup of three Republicans and three Democrats of varied interests from across the commonwealth to sit down and find a way forward.

“Make no mistake – we must pass statute of limitations reform (for childhood victims of sexual abuse). But we also must fix the workings of our government and find a way to move forward as Pennsylvanians for the betterment of Pennsylvania.

“History will not judge us based on how many Democratic Party wins or Republican Party wins we achieve, but we will be judged based on what we did for the children of this commonwealth.”

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Cutler Signs Election Writs, Accuses Dems of ‘Questionable Legality’ in House Dispute

It’s the math.

With the Pennsylvania House Republicans now at 101 to 99 members, Republican Leader Bryan Cutler said he is in charge, not Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton.

McClinton had sworn herself in as leader when there was a 101-101 tie. Now, with Rep. Tony DeLuca’s death and two representatives who ran for higher office resigning their seats, the Republicans are now in the majority.

On Thursday, Cutler (R-Lancaster) issued election writs for May 16, the same day as the state primary elections, for the seats held by Summer Lee and Austin Davis in Allegheny County. While still the House Speaker in the last session, Cutler had issued a writ of election scheduling a special election for DeLuca’s seat on Feb. 7.

Cutler spoke to the Delaware Valley Journal for a podcast Thursday, explaining what has become a situation confusing to many. McClinton did not respond to requests to participate in a podcast interview.

“Well, as it currently stands, the Republicans have 101 members, and the Democrats have 99.  So while I was elected the Republican Leader, math makes me the majority leader by virtue of having a 101–99 majority,” said Cutler. This makes us a functional majority for swearing-in day on January 3rd. There is no longer a tie.”

Cutler also asked Commonwealth Court to rule on this and to enjoin McClinton (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) from issuing writs of her own.  She issued writs to hold the three special elections on Feb. 7.  The court has yet to rule.

If the two legislators had not resigned, then there would be a 101-101 tie.

As for the Democrats, Cutler said, “I think that math tripped them up because I don’t think that they thought through how that [math] worked.”

Democrats have accused Cutler of transferring $51.4 million in House funds they say should go to the incoming Majority Leader.

“Those are all Republican caucus funds. And you can go back through all the prior budgets and take a look at it,” Cutler said. “That is money that has accumulated because we’ve been good financial stewards, and we’ve been in the majority for the last 12 years. And, every year, we didn’t spend all of our money.

“In fact, we had started using a lot of that money and paying for institutional upgrades. If you come to the House floor, you’ll see new voting screens and boards because they hadn’t been updated since like the late ’60s. We also initiated a safety grant program for district offices, both Republican and Democrat, out of those surpluses.”

Cutler also suggested the Democrats wanted the money because they had mismanaged their own caucus funds.

“The reality is, even though we’ve been in the majority, we have just under 700 employees. The Democrats, who’ve been in the minority for 12 years, are approaching 800 employees. And they consistently run out of money.”

At a press conference Thursday, Cutler insisted his actions are being guided by both the math and the law.

“As a party, we stand for the law,” Cutler said.

And as for the three vacant seats that Democrats believe they will win again when special elections are held, he said they should not count on that.

“I don’t believe Democrats have perfected the art of gerrymandering to have guaranteed these seats,” said Cutler. “We intend to be competitive.”

Democrats dispute Cutler’s account of recent events.

“Today, Rep. Cutler continued his campaign to disenfranchise nearly 200,000 voters in suburban Pittsburgh,” Nicole Reigelman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Caucus, said in a statement. “The only reason for the GOP leader to delay the special elections in Districts 34 and 35 in Allegheny County until the May primary is to deny those voters their right to representation in Harrisburg and to empower the House Republican Caucus to play politics and ram through extremist policies.

“Rep. Cutler was the first to act, and while flawed, chose to set the special election to fill the vacancy that occurred on December 1 in District 32 on February 7. For what can only be understood as an attempt to disenfranchise, Rep. Cutler has filed writs for the vacancies that occurred on December 7 – seven days after the original vacancy – in Districts 34 and 35 – for May 16 – 98 days after the original date of February 7.”

She accused Cutler of “showing disdain for good government and democracy.”

Asked if the current fight would poison the well for bipartisan action in the upcoming session, regardless of who held the majority, Cutler told DVJournal he was willing to work with Democrats. But, he said, they’ve put partisanship first.

“And you look back over the last couple sessions, you had the Democrats take over the rostrum in the House. You had the Democrats disrupting swearing-in ceremonies at the beginning of the last session in the Senate. There is a continued pattern of [Democrats] grasping and reaching for things that are questionably legal.

“And in this case, I think most of the voters clearly understand the math at 101  to 99. The person with 101 is the person who is in, by definition, in the majority.”

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Impeach! PA House Filing Articles Against Philly’s Progressive DA

Pennsylvania’s House leadership is filing articles of impeachment against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. The progressive prosecutor has become a symbol of what Republicans call “soft-on-crime” policies that they say have led to the national surge in big-city crime.

On the last scheduled business day before Election Day, Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) filed a resolution that included the articles of impeachment.

The House Select Committee to Restore Law and Order released a second interim report on Monday, which included testimony from public hearings and information from subpoenaed documents and other sources. While the report did not provide any recommendations to move forward on impeachment, it was not the final word from the committee.

White has been involved throughout the impeachment process, attending both days of public hearings in September. She is the lone Republican member of the Philadelphia delegation. During her appearance at the press conference, she cited the 78 percent increase in homicides in Philadelphia since Krasner became district attorney in 2018.

“Larry Krasner is the top law enforcement official who is supposed to be representing the interest of our commonwealth in Philadelphia,” she said at a press conference Wednesday. “His dereliction of duty and despicable behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

She encouraged her colleagues to “put politics aside and do the right thing” in supporting the articles.

Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland) accused Krasner of “prioritizing criminals over victims” with policies that have led to fewer prosecutions and substantially higher dismissal and withdrawal rates of crimes. Ecker served on the select committee and insisted the overall behavior and attitudes of the district attorney’s administration met the threshold of an impeachable offense.

He also described the efforts Krasner used to avoid responding to the charges, saying “our work was met with the worst kind of obstruction and defiance.”

“District Attorney Krasner has failed to uphold his elected duty to enforce the laws of Pennsylvania and protect the citizens of the commonwealth,” Ecker said. “That is the very definition of misbehavior in office, which is contained in our Pennsylvania state constitution.”

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) did not commit to a specific timeline for the voting process. He did note that discussions have occurred with the Speaker’s office and voting days may be added to the calendar and the process may work into the new session next year. However, he flatly denied the accusations of Krasner and others that this is an attempt to influence the upcoming election.

“I believe the people of Philadelphia are no longer free,” Benninghoff said. “Day after day, when I see the news of constantly increasing violence in Philly, I think it’s time to say enough is enough. Philadelphia citizens are prisoners of fear.”

Before the press conference, Krasner took to his Twitter account, decrying the efforts, insisting no crime was committed, and claiming the House Republicans “just don’t think Philly has a right to govern itself.”

“It’s the last day of session before the election. The House could pass gun reform. It could improve our schools. It could work to improve our infrastructure. Instead, it is playing political theatre and trying to remove Philly’s right to vote,” read one tweet.

One of the issues pinpointed during public testimony that was also mentioned in the report was the inconsistent and inadequate enforcement of existing gun laws, notably VUFA cases as handled by the district attorney’s office. Since taking office in 2018, withdrawals and dismissals of cases have increased dramatically in Philadelphia. Many charged who later walk free have been charged with other offenses, including homicide.

The 63-page report released by the committee detailed the results of dozens of interviews and documents reviewed by the committee. It also described Krasner’s reluctance to cooperate with the investigation. Krasner had sued the General Assembly in August in Commonwealth Court over the validity of the committee. His initial refusal to testify led to a bipartisan vote in the House to hold the district attorney in contempt. The report noted Krasner then submitted a six-page letter to satisfy the testimony request.

The committee also listened to heart-wrenching testimony from crime victims and their families who described the callous treatment they received from the district attorney’s office.

There have been 438 homicides in Philadelphia this year and 562 in 2021. The city has also seen more than 1,000 carjackings since this time last year, including one involving Democratic Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon.

“When we repeatedly see the extensive criminal histories of those we arrest for violent crime, the question needs to be asked as to why they were yet again back on the street and terrorizing our communities,” Philadelphia Police Superintendent Danielle Outlaw recently said.

If the House votes to impeach him, Krasner would next be subject to a trial in the state Senate, which would then vote on whether to remove him from office.

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House Select Committee Releases Report on Krasner Impeachment Hearings

No impeachment for Larry Krasner before the midterm elections.

That was the news as the House Select Committee investigating Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) released a second interim report Monday.

The 63-page report details the results of dozens of interviews and documents reviewed by the committee. It also describes the persistent resistance from Krasner, who sued the General Assembly in August in Commonwealth Court over the validity of the committee. His initial refusal to testify led to a bipartisan vote in the House to hold the district attorney in contempt. The report noted Krasner submitted a six-page letter to satisfy the testimony request.

“Rather than collaborate with the Select Committee, the DAO and DA Krasner have put up roadblocks at every turn, even filing frivolous litigation against the Select Committee and its members,” the report’s executive summary reads in part. “DA Krasner’s repeated and ongoing obstruction of the Select Committee’s investigation no doubt speaks to his failure to integrate and effectuate his progressive policies with any success—as an office, in failing to be a collaborative partner with other public safety stakeholders, and as a voice for victims, in failing to competently and successfully prosecute violent criminals.”

As the report details, the district attorney’s office was the only one of six Philadelphia offices to refuse to submit requested documents following August subpoenas. That included the offices of the mayor, sheriff, city controller, and police department. Instead, Krasner filed the lawsuit that remains pending.

The rise in crime in Philadelphia has happened alongside lower prosecution rates. According to the district attorney’s office data, 30 percent of “all offenses” were withdrawn or dismissed in 2016. That number rose to 67 percent last year. And 21 percent of firearm cases were nolle prossed or withdrawn after initial charges were filed in 2021, up from 10 percent in 2016. Groups like the Delaware Valley Intelligence Center, which created two studies for the PPD as part of its response to the investigation, have noticed the decrease in convictions has altered the mindset of those arrested.

“This implies that, even when criminals are caught with a gun, they are swiftly finding out they may not receive as significant a consequence as they had historically,” their findings read in part. “Notably, the likelihood of being arrested is low to begin with. This means that criminals know that their likelihood of getting caught with a gun is slim and, even if they get caught, they feel that they can leave without severe (or any) consequences.”

Matching a theme found through public testimony in September, the report cited interviews reporting that Krasner was not just reorganizing his office under his vision, but he ignored decades of previous best practices and seemingly alienating partners, notably police officers. In addition to changing rules on bail requests and creating a list of officers not to call as witnesses at trial, Krasner instructed the reduction or dismissal of certain charges when they would affect a defendant’s immigration status, especially when relating to illegal immigrants. The report also details the amount and level of criticism the DAO has received from federal and commonwealth judges.

In a statement following the report’s release, Chairman John Lawrence (R-Chester) said the work was not done. A final report will likely come out before the House’s term ends this fall.

“Today’s report is by no means a conclusion of the committee’s work,” Lawrence’s statement reads in part. “The investigation into the historic crime and violence in Philadelphia and recommendations for possible solutions will continue in earnest over the coming weeks.”

Krasner’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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