Pa. Senate GOP won’t block Democrat Williams from taking her seat

Pennsylvania state Sen.-elect Lindsey Williams will be sworn in to office Tuesday. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Pennsylvania state Sen.-elect Lindsey Williams will be sworn in to office Tuesday. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

After weeks in limbo, a newly elected state senator in Pennsylvania is thanking chamber leaders who say they won’t stand in the way of her swearing-in on New Year’s Day.

Soon after Democrat Lindsey Williams’ election, top Senate Republicans began raising questions about whether she meets state residency requirements.

Williams won a close race in the Pittsburgh suburbs, flipping a district blue after its Republican incumbent lost in the primary.

But the Senate leaders — including Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati — raised doubts about whether Williams met the state’s four-year residency requirement for the post. They requested documents so Senate lawyers could check.

If she didn’t comply, she might not be sworn in.

Williams got a job in Pittsburgh in October 2014. She began relocating from Maryland soon after and, by Nov. 6, she was physically in the commonwealth. However, she hadn’t yet signed a lease or switched over her driver’s license, and she had previously voted early in Maryland.

After weeks of deliberation, Scarnati issued a statement Friday saying state law is ambiguous about what constitutes residency, and that Williams passes muster.

He added, though, the Senate can revisit the issue if it gets new, conflicting information.

The decision came amid statewide rallies in support of Williams and indignant calls from Democrats to have her seated.

In her own statement, Williams said the last few weeks have been stressful. She thanked Senate Republicans for their fairness, though, and said she looks forward to “doing the job I was elected to do for the people of District 38.”

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