By Rep. Steven Mentzer (R-Lititz)
With a strong majority going into the 2019-20 legislative session, the 110 members of the House Republican Caucus – including 91 returning legislators and 19 freshmen – this week elected their leadership team to begin Jan. 1.
This is just the second time since 1924 that Republicans have maintained control of the House for more than four terms in a row.
The big news is that my colleague, Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) was elected Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. As Leader, Cutler, a Lancaster County native, controls House floor proceedings and is one of the chief negotiaters with the administration on tax policy and fiscal priorities.
In other House leadership elections, another south central member, Rep. Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion) – right across the river from Cutler – was re-elected chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The Committee plays a pivotal role in forming recommendations for budget/fiscal related matters and is integrally involved in the annual budget process.
Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) has been nominated to continue serving as speaker of the House. The official election to the position of Speaker occurs on swearing-in day, Jan. 1, 2019.
Also new to their respective leadership positions are House Majority Whip Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin), Majority Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Majority Caucus Secretary Michael Reese (R-Westmoreland).
Retaining their respective leadership positions are Caucus Chairman Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) and Caucus Administrator Kurt Masser (R-Columbia/Montour/Northumberland).
Republicans hold a 110-93 majority in the state House, but two vacancies will exist on n Swearing-in day.