inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

PA May Soon Say Goodbye to Using Handheld Cell Phones While Driving

Pennsylvanians may soon have to put down that phone and drive.

In a bipartisan 124-77 vote Tuesday, the Pennsylvania House passed a law that would allow police to write tickets to drivers yacking on their handheld smartphones instead of paying attention to the road, even if they are not violating other traffic laws.

Other nearby states ban handheld cell phones.

The bill will now go back to the Senate, which has already passed a different version.

Before the vote, the House heard from Eileen Miller, whose 21-year-old son died in a crash with a distracted driver in Monroe County. The bill is called “Paul Miller’s Law.”

“SB 37 isn’t just about following the rules of the road,” said Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Philadelphia), who chairs the House Transportation Committee. “It’s about saving lives, keeping families together, and ensuring that the road trip ends safely. This is a crucial step to ensure Pennsylvania drivers commit to the safety of not only themselves but everyone they encounter on the road.”

Local state Rep. Lisa Borowski (D-Springfield) was a yes vote.

“I voted on a law to strengthen the existing distracted driving law,” said Borowski. “One in eight fatal crashes involve a distracted driver. Yesterday, when we voted on the law, there was a family on the floor who lost their son due to a crash with a driver who was texting.

“The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, expands existing law prohibiting texting while driving to now include using an interactive mobile device while driving. In other words, no texting and driving, no online shopping and driving, no watching a movie and driving, no playing video games and driving.

“I voted to expand existing law to make our roads safer for all Pennsylvanians,” said Borowski.

Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) voted against the bill.

“Driving on the road with a cell phone in your hand is already illegal,” Grove said. “Senate Bill 37, while well-intentioned, will not provide the desired outcome of eliminating texting while driving. I am also concerned this bill runs afoul of the single-subject rule, which requires bills to be limited to one issue. [The Senate version] was amended by House Democrats to add an onerous reporting requiring on traffic stops by law enforcement. For these two reasons, I voted no.”

But Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro), who voted yes, said, “Distracted driving is a major factor in automobile fatalities. This commonsense bill is a deterrent that will help contribute to having safer roadways for our community members and loved ones.

Of the 27 states that have passed similar legislation, they have reported declines in motor vehicle accidents, and overall highway fatalities have declined nationally. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is not one of those states, and our fatalities are up 4.2 percent from 2022 to 2023.”

Sen. Rosemary Brown (R-Lackawanna) has been trying to get this bill passed for 12 years. Because April is Distracted Driving Awareness month she said it’s fitting it should go forward now. She hopes the Senate will vote on the amended bill next week.

“I’m very pleased,” said Brown, adding that she worked very closely with the House on the amendments it suggested. “Hopefully, we’ll see it go to the governor’s desk.”

As to Grove’s concern about adding more work for police officers, Brown said state police already do the data collection it requires and police departments in towns with fewer than 5,000 residents are not included.

“I really hope it will help,” she said, noting that Eileen Miller was “an inspiration for me.”

Some DVJournal readers commented about the bill on Facebook.

Tina Marie Hoseweart said, “I’ve seen so many people holding their phone and going so slow or almost causing accidents.”

Teri Selleck Majewski said she’s probably in favor of it because “there is no common sense. It is dangerous to text and drive.”

And Michael Lake said it is “just as dangerous to text and drive with the phone on a windshield mount.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

DelVal’s Republican Rising Stars Are Helping Their Communities and PA

First-term Bucks County Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) hit the ground running.

Marcell, a former Council Rock School Board member, is the sponsor of two bills that Gov. Josh Shapiro already signed into law:  one that requires the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to engage in a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers of human use of xylazine or “tranq,” and the other with Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bensalem), is the porch pirate bill that Sen. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) sponsored in the Senate, to make mail and package thefts a felony.

In one year, Marcell has sponsored 107 bills and 36 resolutions. She is the prime sponsor of 11 bills. Recently, with other Republican representatives, Marcell sponsored a package of bills to combat antisemitism. Her bill requires curriculum transparency for schools that teach about the Holocaust and genocide.

Rep. Kristin Marcell (R) is sworn in to represent the 178th District.

“It’s always a challenge in a closely divided House,” said Marcell. “But I was able to unite a bipartisan group of legislators to successfully call for one member to resign for sexual harassment and I was able to get legislation to toughen the penalties against porch pirates made into law. It proves we can still accomplish important things if we find consensus, even while staying true to our principles.”

In Chester County, Republican Eric Roe, a former state representative, was elected as a minority member to the county Board of Commissioners, replacing outgoing Commissioner Michelle Kichline in January.

“We live in the best county in America,” said Roe. “Let’s keep it that way for our children and grandchildren. As our county commissioner, I will strive to make our residents even prouder to live here. My goal is to make Chester County the most family-friendly and business-friendly county in the nation one day. We can achieve that by protecting our local economy and preserving our beautiful landscapes.”

“I’m not opposed to business and industry,” said Roe. “I just want it to be in the right places.”

Roe will  reach across party lines to get things done.  With a three-person board, “you only need one other person to agree with you,” he said.

Roe is also a fiscal conservative.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re living within our means,” he said. “Just in the last four years the county budget ballooned by over $200 million.” Much of that money is one-time payment, federal dollars. “I want to make sure we’re spending our money wisely (so) we’re not spending one-time funds on recurring projects.”

In Delaware County, Newtown Township Supervisors Chairman Leonard Altieri, served on the Marple-Newtown School Board before voters elected him as supervisor in 2019. At 30 he is the youngest person ever elected to be a Newtown supervisor.  Altieri was 23 when he was appointed to the school board, then elected to that position at 24.

DVJournal asked Altieri, a lawyer, what he’s done as a supervisor so far, and he immediately said, “Expanding walkability.” The township received a $650,000 state grant through former Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Newtown) for installing sidewalks.


“And we’re putting them in strategic areas in the township to connect different neighborhoods along busy roadways,” said Altieri. Sidewalks are also part of the new town center “that’s happening along West Chester Pike,” he said. “We required the installation of sidewalks there. Again, there were never sidewalks along West Chester Pike.”

“We also have strong fiscal management,” said Altieri. “We received an AAA bond rating from Moody’s, which we never had before. We are one of only two municipalities in the county (with) Radnor being the other one and only a handful in the state with an AAA bond rating. We’ve been very careful with our budget and have strong financial planning. There’s not a lot of people who can say that from a municipality perspective.”

 Incoming Chester County Commissioner Eric Roe

Newtown has the lowest tax rate of any Delaware County municipality with a full-time police department.

And the police department has been recognized and received the “highly coveted and extremely rare Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation certification along with certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.”

Altieri, who grew up in Newtown, said they are also big on sustainable development.  The previous board approved several new housing developments, and the current supervisors are making sure the developers live up to their commitments, he said.

They also use environmentally friendly practices with copiers and township vehicles, he said.

Altieri said on the school board and now a supervisor, his “number one priority” remains communication with his constituents. He uses a Facebook page, Instagram and emails to keep in touch.

Montgomery County Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Harleysville) is a former businesswoman who served on the Souderton Area School Board before she was elected to the House in 2022.

“Serving the people of the 147th has been the honor of my life,” said Scheuren. “My legislative duties have allowed me to meet so many great residents, business owners, and non-profit organizations across the district, as well as the local leaders of our schools, churches, police, fire and emergency services housed within our townships and boroughs. All of them have great needs and wants or ideas to help keep their businesses or community’s strong, and advocating for all of it as their voice in Harrisburg is truly a privilege. There is much more to do and hopefully my first year in office is the start of many more to come.”

Scheuren secured funding to build a new bridge on Bergey’s Mill Road in Lower Salford, which was out for 12 years, causing slower emergency response times.

Rep. Donna Scheuren

“I was also proud to stand with my fellow legislators to propose a package of bills that promote transparency in government related settlements,” said Scheuren. “My legislation would amend the PennWATCH Act to include information on each settlement paid to an individual, or to an employee of a commonwealth agency, as a result of an action taken by an employee of a commonwealth agency.

“With no risk of personal or private information being shared on any victims, my legislation would provide an easier way to monitor how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent, as well as greater transparency on taxpayer funded expenditures and investments,” she said.

Scheuren said, “Along with my Republican colleagues, we also successfully fought for $150 million in Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) funding to be included in the final budget, after Democrats took it out at the last second just before a vote before Thanksgiving. I am fighting for education at every level of the process.  Whether its funding win-win programs like EITC helping local businesses and schools simultaneously, or new funding for our technical career centers, or my legislation that would help to fix the school bus driver shortage by providing an income tax-credit to new bus drivers, I’m driving common sense legislation through the chamber.”

Scheuren hopes to make Pennsylvania more business friendly.

“With the governor’s announcement to appeal the court’s verdict that enrolling Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is unconstitutional – knowing full well that enrollment in RGGI will send utility bills for all PA residents through the roof – to the unnecessary attacks and potential mandates on our vital energy resources throughout the state, or to getting our labor force back to work to boost state revenues, there is great need to address all these issues.”

“I am once again ready to take on the challenge of making Pennsylvania a better place for all,” said Scheuren.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Bucks County Rep’s Bill Confronts Dangers From ‘Tranq’

A group of Bucks County lawmakers held a press conference in September to announce they were working on bills to fight increased crime. One issue they focused on was the increase in drug addiction and overdoses.

This week, state Rep. Kristin Marcell’s bill to require the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to educate people about xylazine, dubbed “tranq,” passed out of committee and will be voted on by the House.

“Over the past several years, law enforcement officers and public health professionals have detected an increase in the prevalence of the illicit use of xylazine, an animal tranquilizer – or ‘tranq’ – in street drugs used in the commonwealth,” Marcell said. “In fact, about half of all Pennsylvania counties saw cases where illicit use of xylazine caused a death in 2021. Worse, 90 percent of the opioids sampled by the city of Philadelphia showed xylazine in 2021.”

The federal Department of Drug Enforcement has released an alert about the dangers of this new deadly drug mix.

“Xylazine is making the deadliest drug threat our country has ever faced, fentanyl, even deadlier,” said Administrator Anne Milgram. “DEA has seized xylazine and fentanyl mixtures in 48 of 50 states. The DEA Laboratory System is reporting that in 2022, approximately 23 percent of fentanyl powder and 7 percent of fentanyl pills seized by the DEA contained xylazine.”

Despite the dangers, most Delaware Valley residents are unaware of the threat.

“Too few people are aware of this drug’s existence. Increased public awareness of the impact of the illicit use of xylazine can help the effort to protect our residents,” Marcell added.

Under Marcell’s HB 1690, DDAP would partner with healthcare providers, community-based health centers, and hospitals to educate Pennsylvanians on the dangers of human use of xylazine.

DDAP would also create brochures and other materials with information about xylazine and how it affects the human body, how to discuss the dangers with others, and other materials needed to raise awareness of the risks “tranq” poses.

Drug dealers use xylazine, designed as a horse tranquilizer, as a cutting agent for heroin and fentanyl, which people then use. Those who use xylazine tend to get wounds that do not readily heal.

Bucks County Sheriff Fred Harran has been at the forefront of raising awareness of xylazine. He reports an increase in people being arrested with gaping wounds from “tranq.” As a result, these suspects need to go to the hospital rather than jail, which ties up law enforcement officers who must stand guard rather than patrol the streets. That is particularly problematic for smaller departments with fewer officers.

Harran said he supports Marcell’s bill.

“Any education is good. People should be aware of it. It’s definitely positive.”

As its illicit use has grown, xylazine has attracted the attention of media and public health officials. It made national news when the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy warned the nation of its dangerous use.

Xylazine-positive overdose deaths have increased tenfold in the Southern U.S. from 2020-21, sevenfold in the Western U.S., and fivefold in the Midwest. The U.S. Department of Health recently temporarily scheduled xylazine as a controlled substance.

Bucks Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Crack Down on Crime

After a surge in suburban crime — including a 130 percent increase in firearms offenses — a group of Bucks County lawmakers led by GOP Sen. Frank Farry are sponsoring legislation to fight back.

“Every day when you turn on the news, those of us in the Philadelphia media market see what’s going on,” said Farry. “You see different and evolving crimes happening in our communities and our neighboring communities. We think it’s our responsibility, as public figures, to step forward and make sure proper statutes are on the books to help the men and women in law enforcement have the tools they need to do their jobs.”

And they had plenty of backup from the local police. About two dozen police representatives from Bucks and Montgomery Counties were on hand at Thursday’s press conference Thursday outside the Northampton Township Police Department to endorse their efforts.

Lawmakers are introducing the bills because of “feedback we’ve heard from law enforcement, feedback we’ve heard from victims, feedback from our communities, and feedback we’ve heard from prosecutors,” said Farry. “We want to ensure that law enforcement has the proper tools in their tool chest to be able to properly charge crimes that will ultimately lead to convictions.”

Warrington Police Chief Daniel Friel, president of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Bucks County, said, “We’ve seen increases in nearly every category of crime that affects the average citizen or business owner. These categories include robbery, burglary, thefts from vehicles, retail thefts, thefts of catalytic converters, and firearms thefts…We have seen a 32 percent increase in thefts from vehicles since last year (and) a 28 percent increase over the average of the past three years. Theft of catalytic converters in Warrington Township is up 85 percent since last year, and again, that’s a 237 percent increase over the past three-year average.”

Perhaps most disturbing, “There’s already a 130 percent increase in firearms offenses, which is an 89 percent increase over the past three years,” said Friel.

And illegal car meetup rallies have become common in Bucks County, overwhelming municipal police forces, he said.

The bills include mandatory jail time for illegally possessing a firearm, cracking down on porch pirates, reducing catalytic converter robberies, increasing penalties for gun store robberies, putting the brakes on vehicle meetup rallies, and enhanced charges for rioters.

Warrington Police Chief Daniel Friel speaks with Bensalem Public Safety Director William McVey, Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (left), and Rep. Kristin Marcell (right).

Bensalem Public Safety Director William McVey called them “common sense.”

“First, mandatory jail time for illegal gun possession is absolutely needed in Pennsylvania,” he said. “In Bensalem, we’ve experienced a 75 percent increase in illegal guns. We’ve seized 174 illegal guns in that timeframe. More distressing is the fact we’ve arrested 21 convicted felons for illegally possessing a firearm this year to date.”

“Without strong penalties, these felons are often released and go back to carrying illegal guns,” he said. “And worse, they use the illegal guns on innocent victims.”

And catalytic converter theft is booming. One Bensalem business had 58 catalytic converters stolen from its fleet of vehicles, which cost more than $100,000 to replace. When officers see someone with a truckload of catalytic converters, they can’t charge them “even when they have no legitimate purpose to carry them.”

“And the car meetups, the drifting, it’s absolutely crazy,” said McVey. “They’ve popped up in our jurisdictions. They overtake areas. They have no regard for anyone’s safety.”

Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Wrightstown) thanked Farry for shepherding the porch pirates bill, which increases penalties for that type of theft, through the Senate. It awaits passage in the House.

“Especially with the holiday season, where more people are relying on mail-order purchases, it’s more important than ever to protect consumers and to think about how we can help,” she said. She said that stealing boxes from people’s porches is not a victimless crime. For example, it could be medicine ordered by an elderly person that’s stolen.

Afterward, Marcell told DVJournal that Democratic Reps. Joe Ciresi (D-Royersford) and Ed Ne9lson (D-Philadelphia) are also sponsors.

Rep. Joe Hogan (R-Langhorne) said, “What’s happening in our cities right now is a choice. The decline, the prosecutorial decisions, is a choice…to allow violent criminals to be released out on bail to go back and commit more crimes. This morning, I learned that an individual who was picked up in the burglary and the rioting two days ago was released on bail on a murder three charge. (They were) right back out committing more crimes.”

Hogan introduced a bill in response to crooks who robbed a gun store in Langhorne in the middle of the night.

“If you rob a gun store and steal guns, you are going to jail for a mandatory minimum of time,” said Hogan. “We’re going to take that decision away from these prosecutors who are letting our cities fall into chaos, and we’re going to make sure that if that crime is committed, you are going to jail, and you’re going to be there a long time.”

Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bensalem) said, “Nearly 40 percent of the crime committed in Bensalem is not committed by Bensalem residents but by individuals crossing over the border from Philadelphia. Sadly, the city continues to send a message of tolerance. I stand here today with my colleagues and law enforcement to make our message very clear: Bucks County will not tolerate what’s going on in the city.”

“We will always fight to maintain the quality of life we enjoy here in Bucks County,” Tomlinson said.

Rep. Grove Explains the PA State Budget Impasse

Despite multiple media reports that the state’s $45.5 billion budget is a done deal, Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) says not so fast.

Grove, Republican appropriations chair, told DVJournal Tuesday that because the Senate leadership has not signed it, the budget is not actually finalized.

Grove laid the blame squarely on Gov. Josh Shapiro, who reneged on his promise to Senate Republicans to fund a $100 million school choice program.

“I call it the great betrayal of Josh Shapiro,” said Grove. “You know, talking about how important school choice is and, ‘All of God’s children need the opportunity for education, blah, blah, blah,’ right?”

“And then, to get the budget out of the House, he commits to line-item veto the school education choice portion of it to get the House Democrats on board,” Grove said. “And the Senate, currently, is not in. They haven’t signed it. So it’s still sitting in the House.”

Asked if there are enough Republicans to pass the Lifeline Scholarships — now known as the PASS program– in the Democrat-controlled House, Grove said there were. “And there’s a lot of House Democrats that have said they support school choice. They just don’t want to bring it up on the House floor for a vote.”

Grove added, “Listen, there was a negotiation between Gov. Josh Shapiro and Senate Republicans. They came to an agreement. Josh was supposed to get House Democrat votes. (The budget needed 102 House votes to pass.) And he never did that. He faced strong opposition from very extreme House Democrats who don’t want to spend 0.2 percent of the budget. That’s what we’re talking about…$100 million out of a $45.55 billion budget in order to help some kids.”

Grove was astonished Shapiro, and the Democrats would block the budget over “a couple of thousand kids [having] the opportunity for academic success and changing their life in a positive way forever. “It’s crazy.”

Grove said the state can make it through the summer without a budget until the Senate returns in September, noting it took nine months to get former Gov. Tom Wolf’s first budget done. School districts will be getting their property tax payments soon, and “They’re sitting on billions of dollars of reserve funds,” Grove said.

Another sticking point is state funding for state-related universities like Penn State.

Grove said it takes two-thirds of the General Assembly to pass that bill because those are “non-preferred appropriations.” Republicans would like a tuition freeze and to have the universities to be subject to right-to-know law for greater transparency.

DVJournal asked Grove whether diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, “which many people see as political boondoggles,” would be included in the transparency.

Grove said he believed that would fall under the right-to-know law.

Asked about the state’s budget surplus, Grove said Pennsylvania has $5.9 billion in the rainy day fund and another $7 billion budget surplus.

“The kind of interesting part is the fact that we’re under a budget impasse. (Because of that) the current fiscal code law requires that 10 percent of the budget surplus be remitted back to the rainy day fund,” Grove said.

The overall budget that had passed had a 6 percent spending increase and included “this robust school choice program for the commonwealth,” he said.

The legislature also has to pass various enabling legislation before the money in the budget can be spent, and it has not done that, said Grove.

With Shapiro’s change of heart on the school choice program, Grove wondered if even members of his own party could trust him now.

“I mean, the simple fact is that (in) Harrisburg, you have one thing. You have the handshake, right? You have an agreement. You have your word. If you don’t have that, you have nothing. So even the House Democrats have to be leery of cutting any kind of negotiation with Josh because at what point is he going to walk away from it for his own benefit?”

Shapiro defended his decision, blaming Senate Republicans during a recent press conference.

“House Democrats made it clear it would not pass their chamber, particularly with the Senate’s unwillingness to advance more of the House’s priorities,” Shapiro said.

Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks) said, “While there was much in this budget I worked to include and wanted to support – including increased education funding and funding for mental health services — the fact remains that the House majority refused to provide the actual spending plan for the dollars allotted. It means that while a framework for spending was there, it was not ‘locked in’ and can still easily be changed – so those dollars we may believe will be used for priorities we agree upon can still be appropriated elsewhere. That, to me, is bad policy and why I voted no.

“It is also disappointing that the governor refused to fight his party’s leaders and special interests to fulfill his campaign promise and rescue children trapped in failing school districts. I came to Harrisburg ready and willing to work in a bipartisan manner. Sadly, when I attempted to do so, the other side of the aisle not only rejected it, they did so by lying.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

State Agency Has Years of Unspent Funds that Total Nearly $100 Million

Most Pennsylvanians would agree that $100 million is a lot of money.

State Rep. Clint Owlett grilled state officials with the Department of Community and Economic Development last week about nearly $100 million in unspent funds in that agency’s coffers.

The unspent money is part of the DCED’s budget that gets doled out to businesses that apply for various grants.

“Why is your department holding on to these prior years’ money?” asked Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford). “An overarching concern is we appropriated money every year. You’re sitting on almost $100 million in lapsed funds, some of it going back 15, maybe 20 years.”

Acting DCED Secretary Rick Siger said, “The vast majority of the $100 million is obligated grants. Because of the nature of business. Business does not work on the government fiscal year.”

Owlett shot back, “I’m from business so I understand.”

Siger added, “They’re going to spend the money when they spend it. Most of these projects are on a reimbursement basis. They file the reimbursement. We pay it out, so we have to have those dollars available to pay out.

“The second thing is, I do want to look at some of these older grants. I was not aware of one from 2005 and understand what our process is to reprogram that money.”

Owlett said the lawmakers often argue about spending $500,000 and the DCED has  “lapsed year funds and we have businesses that could really use it. If it’s claw back money, great. Let’s repurpose it for use and figure out a way to do that.”

Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks) said, “It’s concerning that at the same time that DCED is sitting on nearly $100 million in unspent funds from prior budgets, the agency is also requesting new spending. DCED owes it to the taxpayers to use these funds as intended or return them to the General fund.

“Instead of depleting our budget reserves and the Rainy-Day Fund in the Administration’s budget, we need to focus on the positive, common-sense changes that can be made to help address Pennsylvania’s structural deficit,” she said. The structural deficit is more than $2 billion.

Gov. Josh Shapiro laid out a $44.4 billion budget for 2023-24. The DCED is requesting $191,414,000.

The DCED helps new businesses start and existing businesses grow. It’s also involved in workforce development and training, and services to local governments. It’s also involved in community planning, weatherization and other programs.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Women House Members Have Message for Zabel: Resign.

Sixteen female state representatives presented a letter to House leadership Monday asking accused groper Rep. Mike Zabel to resign.

The lawmakers—all Republicans—led by Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) hand-delivered the letter to Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) and Zabel.

Zabel (D-Drexel Hill), first elected in 2018, sent a letter to House Democratic leadership Friday saying he would resign from committees and seek treatment for an undisclosed illness. However, he refused to give up his $102,844-a-year job.

Multiple allegations of Zabel’s mistreatment of women have surfaced in recent days, though his inappropriate behavior was an open secret among House members, legislators have since confirmed.

“Women have spent generations breaking down barriers to hold positions of public trust and confidence, but the disgusting unwanted sexual advances by people like Rep. Zabel have continuously held women back or slowed the progress they have made,” the letter said. “Too often, the behavior of such men and the silent complicity of others has, sadly, prevented others from even believing the truth.

“Knowing Rep. Zabel will not be serving in the halls of the Capitol is the only way women who have had to deal with the grotesque and repeated conduct from this serial harasser will be able to feel safe,” the letter said.

Marcell, a first-term member of the House, has been outspoken in her calls for Democrats to set aside partisanship and stand with Zabel’s alleged victims.

“What makes this situation even more intolerable is that House Democratic leadership, which has at times consisted of several different women, covered up these actions and remained silent until Rep. Zabel was finally caught. The timeline of how his identity was kept quiet – despite his identity being reported as ‘an open secret’ by the news media in the weeks preceding– is there for everyone to see.”

“The speaker’s call for a vote to shut down the mention of Rep. Zabel’s name during the House rules vote is there for anyone to see. How can we allow Rep. Zabel to continue to hold the title and position of trust he abused – especially when he has yet to deny any of the accusations made against him? How can any party prioritize its political power and voting margin over women’s safety?” Marcell asked.

During a podcast with DVJournal, Marcell said she had been warned by a “number of female colleagues to avoid being around” Zabel.

Zabel has refused to respond to Marcell’s story and has ignored repeated requests for comment. In a sign Democrats are even more on the defensive as this scandal unfolds, a McClinton spokeswoman said Monday she was a ” no comment” as well.

“As disturbing allegations continue to mount against Rep. Zabel, it’s clear that Speaker McClinton and Democratic leadership will not address these allegations in an effort to protect their razor-thin majority,” said Republican Senate Leadership Committee Deputy Communications Director Mason Di Palma. “Rep. Zabel is no longer able to serve the people of his district effectively and should resign immediately. Democrats’ silence on this matter shows that they are only concerned with holding onto power and not standing by victims of sexual abuse.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or


Bucks County Rep. Marcell Calls on Rozzi to Resign Speakership

Freshman state Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) is already making an impact in Harrisburg, releasing a statement calling on Speaker Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) to resign the speakership of the House of Representatives.

Like many of her fellow House Republicans, Marcell believes Rozzi has reneged on a pledge he made to leave the Democratic Party and become an independent once elected Speaker.

“Last week, I communicated my dissatisfaction with Speaker Rozzi and gave him an opportunity to keep his word, fulfill the promises he made to the citizens of Pennsylvania and members of the House, and call the House into session so we can begin the people’s business. Now that Mr. Rozzi has failed to take action on any of these items, I must ask for his immediate resignation as speaker of the House.

“With his announcement of a statewide tour as well as his failure to register as an Independent and build a bipartisan staff, it now clear that Mr. Rozzi has no intention of keeping his word,” said Marcell.

Marcell joins Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), who nominated Rozzi for the Speaker post, in calling on him to resign, claiming that he has not fulfilled his promises.  Rozzi did not immediately respond when asked to comment on Marcell’s call for his resignation.

Rozzi has also declined to make a clear public statement about what he pledged to do regarding his party registration when he was negotiating with Republicans. Democrats say he merely pledge to be an independent Speaker — avoiding partisan stances and declining to caucus with the Democrats.  Republicans insist he promised to drop his Democratic registration and become a capital-I independent.

“It’s time for Mr. Rozzi to honor the commitments he made in accepting the role of speaker, especially his pledge to change his registration from Democrat to Independent as a symbol of unity,” editorialized the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Rozzi has embarked on what he calls a “listening tour” around the state.  And with the House on pause, the Senate also took a two-week hiatus so the business of the legislature has halted.

Rozzi announced the first of several planned listening tour sessions at the Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh on Jan 25. He will be joined by members of the bipartisan Speaker’s Workgroup to Move Pennsylvania Forward, a group of six House members convened to create bipartisan operating rules for the House. They are also tasked with breaking partisan gridlock in Harrisburg to swiftly address justice for survivors s of sexual assault, according to Rozzi.

The Speaker and House members will be joined by representatives from interested groups and survivors of childhood sexual assault to discuss how to improve House operations and the importance of providing the opportunity for survivors of childhood sexual assault to get the justice they deserve. The public is invited and can speak during a public comment period at the end of the session.

Marcell is not satisfied with Rozzi’s plans.

“The people of Pennsylvania expect us to act on the important issues of the day: fighting inflation, helping job creators to grow our economy, working to improve schools, and making our communities safer,” Marcell said. “I stand ready and able to work on these and other issues, but Speaker Rozzi’s actions have now paralyzed the House of Representatives when action is needed. He must resign the speakership so that we can begin to move our state forward.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or