This story originally appeared on Spotlight PA.
The Pennsylvania House picked state Rep. Mark Rozzi to be the chamber’s new speaker Tuesday in a surprise vote.
Here are the basics about the Berks County lawmaker, how he became speaker, and more.
Who is Mark Rozzi?
Mark Rozzi is a state representative from Berks County who was first elected in 2012.
He is a prominent advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, having been raped by a Catholic priest when he was 13. He supports creating a retroactive two-year window for survivors to bring civil lawsuits.
Spotlight PA will have more on Rozzi’s record in the coming days.
Rozzi is a registered Democrat, but on Tuesday he said he would be an independent speaker. More on that below.
How did Mark Rozzi become House speaker?
The simple answer: He won a majority of votes, 115 to his only competitor’s 85.
All Democrats voted for Rozzi as did 16 Republicans including those who hold leadership positions:
- Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County (leader)
- Sheryl Delozier of Cumberland County (caucus administrator)
- George Dunbar of Westmoreland County (caucus chairman)
- Jim Gregory of Blair County
- Seth Grove of York County (Appropriations chair)
- Doyle Heffley of Carbon County
- Joe Hogan of Bucks County
- Josh Kail of Beaver County (policy committee chair)
- Andrew Kuzma of Allegheny County
- Kristin Marcell of Bucks County
- Tom Mehaffie of Dauphin County
- Tim O’Neal of Washington County (whip)
- Donna Oberlander of Clarion County
- Stephenie Scialabba of Butler County
- Kathleen Tomlinson of Bucks County
- Martina White of Philadelphia (caucus secretary)
The more complicated answer is still emerging.
Rozzi’s name was not floated publicly as a choice for speaker. He was nominated by state Rep. Jim Gregory (R., Blair), who is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and has worked closely with Rozzi on the issue.
Gregory told Spotlight PA he and Rozzi had discussed the option of Rozzi running for speaker for “months.” But he said he didn’t bring the idea to his party leaders until around 2:30 Tuesday afternoon, when the chamber appeared on the verge of recessing without choosing a speaker.
“They were not aware,” Gregory said. “I made a suggestion to them. ‘Go to Mark Rozzi, I think you might be able to do it.’ And they did.”
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