Pa. House GOP shuffles committee chairs as new session begins

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who previously chaired the House State Government Committee and gained notoriety for once pledging to “block all substantive Democrat legislation,” will now lead the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.  (AP file photo)

Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who previously chaired the House State Government Committee and gained notoriety for once pledging to “block all substantive Democrat legislation,” will now lead the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. (AP file photo)

As the new legislative session dawns, a new slate of committee chairs is taking over in Pennsylvania’s House.

These chairs — all Republicans, since that party controls the House — have considerable sway over legislation the chamber considers. They decide which bills are granted debate, ergo, which ones make it to the floor for votes.

It is difficult for lawmakers in opposition to circumvent committees.

One of the biggest questions ahead of committee assignment announcements was where Butler County Republican Daryl Metcalfe would be placed.

Metcalfe previously chaired the House State Government Committee and gained notoriety for once pledging to “block all substantive Democrat legislation.”

One bill that stalled under his leadership was the Fairness Act, aimed at giving LGBT people employment and housing discrimination protections.

Metcalfe also resisted passing bills to update redistricting processes, at one point completely gutting and replacing the language in a reapportionment bill to keep Democrats from attempting to discharge it without his approval.

His replacement is Lycoming County’s Garth Everett. Everett didn’t return a request for comment on his own legislative priorities, but is a generally less-controversial lawmaker.

Metcalfe will now chair the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee — a body that was already considered conservative, particularly on taxing natural gas drilling.

Another key turnover took place in the powerful House Judiciary Committee. Franklin County’s Rob Kauffman will take over the chairmanship from Ron Marsico, who retired last year.

Kauffman previously chaired the Labor and Industry Committee. He is a fiscal conservative who opposes tax increases on principle, wants to cut down on state regulations, and supports slashing property taxes — a white whale for many Pennsylvania Republicans.

One of his more significant incidents as chairman came when he abruptly rescinded his support for a sexual misconduct bill that aimed to get rid of nondisclosure agreements for lawmakers who harass people. He accused the bill’s primary Democratic sponsor of using it for election purposes, Democrats walked out, and the bill ultimately stalled.

Senators are still awaiting their committee chair assignments, as are House Democrats.

House committee changes:

Aging and Older Adult Services

Will be chaired by Rep. Thomas Murt, 152nd Legislative District, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

Previously run by Rep. Tim Hennessey, 26th Legislative District, Chester and Montgomery counties. Hennessey has moved to the Transportation Committee.

Agriculture and Rural Affairs

Will be chaired by Rep. Martin Causer, 67th Legislative District, Cameron, Potter and McKean counties.

Causer is the incumbent chair.

Children and Youth

Will be chaired by Rep. Karen Boback, 117th Legislative District, Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming counties.

Previously run by Rep. Kathy Watson, 144th Legislative District, Bucks County.

Commerce:

Will be chaired by Rep. Mark Keller, 86th Legislative District, Cumberland and Perry counties. Keller previously chaired the Urban Affairs Committee.

Previously run by Rep. Brian Ellis, 11th Legislative District, Butler County. Ellis has moved to the Consumer Affairs committee.

Consumer Affairs:

Will be chaired by Rep. Brian Ellis, 11th Legislative District, Butler County. Ellis had previously chaired the Commerce Committee.

Previously run by Rep. Robert Godshall, 53rd Legislative District, Montgomery County.

Education:

Will be chaired by Rep. Curt Sonney, 4th Legislative District, Erie County.

Previously run by Rep. Dave Hickernell, 98th Legislative District, Lancaster and Dauphin counties. Hickernell has moved to the Professional Licensure Committee.

Environmental Resources and Energy:

Will be chaired by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, 12th Legislative District, Butler County. Metcalfe had previously chaired the State Government Committee.

Previously run by Rep. John Maher, 40th Legislative District, Allegheny and Washington counties.

Ethics:

Will be chaired by Rep. Frank Farry, 142nd Legislative District, Bucks County.

Previously run by Rep. Jim Cox, 129th Legislative District, Berks and Lancaster counties. Cox has moved to the Labor and Industry Committee.

Finance:

Will be chaired by Rep. Michael Peifer, 139th Legislative District, Pike and Wayne counties.

Previously run by Rep. Bernie O’Neill, 29th Legislative District, Bucks County.

Game and Fisheries:

Will be chaired by Keith Gillespie, 47th Legislative District, York County.

Gillespie is the incumbent chair.

Gaming Oversight:

Will be chaired by Rep. Jim Marshall, 14th Legislative District, Beaver and Butler counties.

Previously run by Rep. Scott Petri, 178th Legislative District, Bucks County.

Health:

Will be chaired by Rep. Kathy Rapp, 65th Legislative District, Forest and Warren counties.

Rapp took over the committee in the middle of last session, after the retirement of former chair, Rep. Matt Baker, 68th Legislative District, Bradford, Potter and Tioga counties.

Human Services:

Will be chaired by Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, 18th Legislative District, Bucks County.

DiGirolamo is the incumbent chair.

Insurance:

Will be chaired by Rep. Tina Pickett, 110th Legislative District, Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna counties.

Pickett is the incumbent chair.

Judiciary:

Will be chaired by Rep. Rob Kauffman, 89th Legislative District, Franklin County. Kauffman had previously chaired the Labor and Industry Committee.

Previously run by Rep. Ron Marsico, 105th Legislative District, Dauphin County.

Labor and Industry:

Will be chaired by Rep Rep. Jim Cox, 129th Legislative District, Berks and Lancaster counties. Cox had previously chaired the Ethics Committee.

Previously run by Rep. Rob Kauffman, 89th Legislative District, Franklin County. Kauffman has moved to the Judiciary Committee.

Liquor Control:

Will be chaired by Rep. Jeff Pyle, 60th Legislative District, Armstrong, Butler and Indiana counties.

Previously run by Rep. Adam Harris, 82nd Legislative District, Franklin, Juniata and Mifflin counties.

Local Government:

Will be chaired by Rep. Dan Moul, 91st Legislative District, Adams County.

Previously run by Rep. Kate Harper, 61st Legislative District, Montgomery County.

Professional Licensure:

Will be chaired by Rep. Dave Hickernell, 98th Legislative District, Lancaster and Dauphin counties. Hickernell previously chaired the Education Committee.

Previously run by Rep. Mark Mustio, 44th Legislative District, Allegheny County.

State Government:

Will be chaired by Rep. Garth Everett, 84th Legislative District, Lycoming and Union counties.

Previously run by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, 12th Legislative District, Butler County. Metcalfe has moved to the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

Tourism and Recreational Development:

Will be chaired by Rep. David Millard, 109th Legislative District, Columbia County.
Millard is the incumbent chair.

Transportation:

Will be chaired by Rep. Tim Hennessey, 26th Legislative District, Chester and Montgomery counties. Hennessey previously chaired the Aging and Older Adult Services Committee.

Previously run by Rep. John Taylor, 177th Legislative District, Philadelphia County.

Urban Affairs:

Will be chaired by Rep. Sue Helm, 104th Legislative District, Dauphin and Lebanon counties.

Previously run by Rep. Mark Keller, 86th Legislative District, Cumberland and Perry counties. Keller now chairs the Commerce Committee.

Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness:

Will be chaired by Stephen E. Barrar, 160th Legislative District, Chester and Delaware counties.

Barrar is the incumbent chair.

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