My First Six Months as Speaker of the House
Every day I am grateful to serve as my neighbors’ voice in Harrisburg. It is a privilege to advocate for the issues you care about and to advance policies that not only strengthen the communities in Philadelphia and Delaware County that I represent, but that will benefit neighborhoods across the commonwealth.
For the past six years, I’ve also have had the tremendous honor to serve my colleagues as a member of the House Democratic Leadership Team. First, when I was elected to serve as the caucus chair in 2018, then as Democratic leader in 2020, and now as the first woman Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
While I’ve been in the position for nearly six months, some mornings I still pinch myself that my colleagues have entrusted me with the distinction of serving in the state House’s highest position. And I am very proud of what the House has been able to achieve in the time since I was elected Speaker.
My colleagues and I have focused on putting the needs of our students, seniors and working families ahead of politics and passing bills that improve the quality of life here in Pennsylvania. And we’ve been delivering on our promise to put people first.
First, we’re delivering by returning money to our seniors by expanding the Property Tax Rent Rebate Program to make 150,000 more seniors eligible, and we increased the maximum rebate for the first time since 2007! We’re also safeguarding our seniors’ health, by making sure they remain eligible for PACE and PACENET.
We’re helping working families by putting more money back in their pocket with an Earned Income Tax Credit for low- to moderate-income workers and families. Plus, we’re helping them save for retirement by establishing the Keystone Saves program. We’re helping more Pennsylvania parents get back to work, by advancing a Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit Program.
And we want Pennsylvania workplaces to be safe. We voted to extend OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) protections to Pennsylvania’s public sector workers. We also passed the Patient Safety Act, that provides for safe staffing levels for nurses, because when you or a loved one is at the hospital, you shouldn’t have to worry about having an overworked nurse care for you.
We also advanced a tax credit to recruit more nurses, police officers and teachers – three of Pennsylvania’s most in demand and understaffed professions. This is great news, because Pennsylvania needs more teachers in our classrooms. To help ease demand, we’ve passed bills to help attract more people to the teaching profession by removing the financial barriers of student teaching and providing scholarships for future teachers at PASSHE schools, and to allow certified or permitted teachers who hold a valid immigrant or work visa to teach in Pennsylvania’s public schools.
We’ve also passed gun safety legislation, allocated mental health funding, and passed bills to end discrimination based on sexual identity or hair type, texture or style. Because in 2023 there should be no discrimination based on who you love or how your hair grows.
House Democrats are delivering for all Pennsylvanians. I’m humbled by what we’ve been able to achieve in my first six months as Speaker, and I assure you we’re just getting started.