HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A new speaker of the House and a new chief justice were sworn in Tuesday, along with scores of newly elected legislators accompanied to the Pennsylvania Capitol by proud relatives and friends.
Mike Turzai, a scrappy partisan as the former House Republican majority floor leader, was unopposed for the speakership. He vowed to hear out the Democratic minority in his new role as the House’s presiding officer.
“I have sometimes forgotten that,” the Allegheny County Republican acknowledged. “In this position, I’m telling you I will never forget it.”
The induction of Chief Justice Thomas Saylor in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ornate Capitol courtroom drew a capacity crowd of about 200 supporters.
Saylor, 68, a 17-year veteran of the state’s highest court, was sworn in by his predecessor, Ronald Castille, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 last year.
Saylor will lead a seven-seat court that has been temporarily reduced to five members by Castille’s retirement and the October resignation of former Justice Seamus McCaffery.
Saylor, a Republican who lives in Camp Hill, has said any decision on whether or not to fill the vacancies is up to Democratic Gov.-elect Tom Wolf and that any temporary appointees would have to be confirmed by the state Senate.
Wolf, whose inauguration is slated for Jan 20, and outgoing Republican Gov. Tom Corbett were among the many high-ranking state officials who attended the events.
Republicans who control both the Senate and House picked up additional seats in the November election. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 119 to 84 and in the Senate, 30 to 20.
Several legislators were absent and will be sworn in later. The House already has one vacant seat - the one that Philadelphia Democrat Brendan Boyle gave up to take the seat in Congress that he won in November.
In the Senate, only the 25 senators elected in November needed to be sworn in. The other 25 are only midway through their four-year terms.
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