The state House kicked off the month of March by finally passing its session operating rules, which had been delayed due to the chamber leadership dispute that was ultimately resolved by three February special elections in Allegheny County. The new rules included procedural reforms that grant the chamber’s minority party, currently Republicans, more agency in the legislative process, a rules change that had been long called for by independent watchdogs to facilitate the body’s responsiveness to constituent needs.
However, this accomplishment in the House was quickly overshadowed by the allegations of sexual harassment levied against Democratic State Representative Mike Zabel (Delaware) and his subsequent resignation in mid-March. A lobbyist for Service Employees International Union BJ32 was the first to publicly speak out about Rep. Zabel’s inappropriate behavior, after which at least three others — including a current State Representative — came forward with similar claims.
Now, House Democrats maintain a narrow 101-100 majority heading into two May 16 special elections. Democratic educator and former school board director Heather Boyd will face Republican Army veteran and special education therapist Kathleen Ford in the race for former Rep. Zabel’s seat in House District 163, while Democratic Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn and Republican Shikellamy director Mike Stender will be competing for now State Senator Lynda Culver Schlehel’s former seat in House District 108.
On March 7, Governor Josh Shapiro delivered the first budget address of his administration, highlighting his goal of bipartisan collaboration in Harrisburg. Priorities put forth in the $44.4 billion proposed budget include funding for new mental health, public safety, and workforce development programs. A transcript of the address in its entirety can be read here. Governor Shapiro did not propose any changes (ie no funding increase) to the Film Production Tax Credit in his budget.
Since the Legislature adjourned session on March 8, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have been holding budget hearings with various state agencies and departments to dive deeper into Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget. These budget hearings continue into mid-April with the House and Senate both returning to voting session on Monday, April 24.
Looking ahead to May, the Film Industry Legislative Reception is scheduled for Monday, May 1 from 4pm-6pm in the state Capitol’s East Wing Rotunda. Additional information about the reception will be shared soon.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org