Special Elections: Three special elections were held last Tuesday to fill open House seats through the end of the year.
Republican Robert Schnee, a Luzerne County Councilman, will complete the term of former State Rep. Tarah C. Toohil in the 116th Legislative House District. Toohil was elected to the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in November. Schnee will only serve the remainder of Toohil’s term through the end of 2022 as his home in Sugarloaf Township was drawn out of the newly drawn 116th Legislative House District. Three other candidates have filed to run in the General Election.
Martell Covington, an aide to Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, will complete former State Rep. Ed Gainey’s term in the 24th Legislative House District. In November, Gainey was elected as the Mayor of Pittsburgh.
Aerion Abney was elected to complete former State Rep. Jake Wheatley’s term in the 19th Legislative House District. Wheatley resigned in February to become Mayor Gainey’s chief of staff.
Covington and Abney will both appear on the ballot for the May 17 Primary Election and are both unopposed.
Congressional Redistricting: Two proposed constitutional amendments addressing congressional redistricting and emergency declarations were approved last Wednesday by the Senate State Government Committee.
The committee voted 7-4 in favor of S.B. 1166 to amend the Constitution to limit the duration of any congressional redistricting plan drawn by the state Supreme Court to one two-year election cycle instead of a decade.
The committee also voted 7-4 in favor of S.B. 959 to amend the Constitution to stipulate that state department secretaries can’t issue emergency directives without a gubernatorial emergency declaration.
Both bills now go to the Senate floor. As constitutional amendments, the bills must be approved in two consecutive sessions of the General Assembly and by statewide voters to take effect.