Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony in Harrisburg marked the official start of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. Republicans currently hold the majority in Pennsylvania with 113 seats, including one vacancy following the untimely death of state Rep. Mike Reese (R-59) on Saturday.
Fourteen new Republican House members were sworn in during Tuesday’s ceremonies, and officials’ re-elected state Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-100) as Speaker of the House.
State Reps. Clint Owlett (R-68), Tina Pickett (R-110), and state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) were re-elected in November to serve another term by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Owlett will serve a second term on the House Appropriations Committee. The committee works towards developing the annual state budget and reviews and approves each bill that seeks to spend taxpayer money, according to the press release.
Like in 2020, this year’s state budget is expected to be a challenge as the state – along with the country and the rest of the world – works through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related expenditures, including those from mitigation measures which weigh down on the businesses and employees of Pennsylvania, according to Owlett.
“Especially this year, as our commonwealth seeks to recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we scrutinize each and every dollar spent in the annual state budget,” Owlett said. “After all, it’s not the state’s money we are spending; it is yours.”
As a member of the committee, Owlett will take part in detailed budget hearings with officials from major state agencies and departments to accurately determine what funds they will need. He will be monitoring state expenditures as they go to make sure they are operating within those enacted budgets.
“I am really grateful that Clint has agreed to serve on the Appropriations Committee for another session,” said Appropriations Chairman Stan Saylor (R-94), “Drawing on his background running a small business, Clint keeps a watchful eye on government spending and fights to protect taxpayers.”
The state budget process is set to begin in February following Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement of the outline for his 2021-2022 state budget proposal.
Passage for a finalized budget plan for the fiscal year is set for June 30.
Owlett took his first oath of office in 2018, while Pickett began serving the 110th District in 2001.
“I am proud and humbled to once again be able to serve my friends and neighbors in our region and look forward to getting to work on their behalf in the new session,” Pickett said.
Pickett took the oath of office to begin her 11th term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives during Tuesday’s ceremony in Harrisburg. She also announced that she’s been reappointed to serve a fifth term as chairwoman of the House Insurance Committee, which works to ensure that the state’s insurance laws are protected for consumers.
“As we begin a new legislative session, one of our top priorities is to continue the work that is already underway to guarantee the integrity of future elections in Pennsylvania. Our review of the 2020 election is expected to result in changes that will lead to renewed trust in the election process, which many voters currently do not have,” said Pickett. “We will continue our work to return economic prosperity to families and business owners who have struggled to survive the pandemic, and also ensure that our schools can provide the highest quality of education to students.”
Yaw was sworn into his fourth term in the state Senate during yesterday’s ceremony as well.
“I want to thank the voters of the 23rd Senatorial District for again placing trust in me to represent their interests in Harrisburg,” Yaw said, “There are many serious challenges facing our great state in the new legislative session and they will take dedicated commitment to address. I will continue to be faithful to that mission. We need to work together, within our own party and across party lines, to address these challenges. Together, we can continue to make our state a better place to live, work and raise our families.”
He’s a U.S. Army veteran who graduated from Montoursville High School, attended Bucknell University, and earned degrees from Lycoming College and the American University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
Yaw is a continuing member of the Lycoming Law Association and Pennsylvania Bar Association, Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and a former member of the Board of Directors of Susquehanna Legal Services.
According to a press release, Yaw serves as “Of Counsel” with the McCormick Law Firm in Williamsport, a prominent firm that has been in continuous existence for 150 years.
To limit the number of people in the House chamber for COVID-19 safety, the oath of office was administered four times to four separate groups of officials Tuesday. Members and guests were required to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks / face coverings.