One week from today—PA House control at stake

Welcome to the Tuesday, January 31, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Three Pennsylvania House special elections on Feb. 7
  2. More than 5,000 pages added to the Federal Register so far this year
  3. Come work with Ballotpedia

Have a minute and an opinion? Take our 2023 reader survey!

Three Pennsylvania House special elections on Feb. 7

Voters in three Pittsburgh-area districts will head to the polls on Feb. 7 to fill three vacancies in the narrowly-divided Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Last November, Democrats won a 102 to 101 majority in the chamber, switching majority control for the first time since 2010.

But three Democratic districts became vacant after the election, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 majority when the legislative session began in early January.

Those three vacant districts are:

  • District 32: Former Allegheny Democratic Committee Director Joe McAndrew (D) faces pastor and Army veteran Clay Walker (R). Incumbent Anthony DeLuca (D) died on Oct. 9, 2022. DeLuca’s name remained on the ballot, and he was re-elected, creating a vacancy.
  • District 34: Attorney Abigail Salisbury (D) faces former law enforcement officer Robert Pagane (R). Incumbent Summer Lee (D) was re-elected but was also elected to the U.S. House. Lee resigned on Dec. 7, 2022.
  • District 35: McKeesport chief finance officer Matthew Gergely (D) faces former school board member Don Nevills (R). Incumbent Austin Davis (D) was re-elected but was also elected lieutenant governor. Davis resigned on Dec. 7, 2022.

All three former incumbents were either uncontested or won by margins of more than 30 percentage points in 2022.

  • District 32: DeLuca defeated Zarah Livingston (G) 86 to 14%, a margin of 72 percentage points.
  • District 34: Lee was uncontested.
  • District 35: Davis defeated Donald Nevills (R) 66 to 34%, a margin of 32 percentage points.

These three vacancies led to disagreements over who had the authority to schedule these special elections since, in Pennsylvania, that responsibility falls to the House majority leader.

Members from both major parties attempted to claim the majority leader position in December. Rep. Joanna McClinton (D) said she was the majority leader since Democrats won a majority in the election. Rep. Bryan Cutler (R) said he held the post since Republicans had a functional majority due to the three vacancies.

McClinton scheduled the three special elections for Feb. 7, but House Republicans filed a lawsuit, alleging McClinton lacked the authority to do so.

On Jan. 13, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that all three elections occur on Feb. 7.

While voters will fill these three House vacancies on Feb. 7, today, Jan. 31, voters in Senate District 27 will fill another. Sen. John Gordner (R) resigned on Nov. 30, 2022. There, educator Patricia Lawton (D) faces Rep. Lynda Culver (R). District 27 voted for former President Donald Trump (R) by a margin of 36 percentage points in 2020.

There were 54 special state legislative elections in Pennsylvania between 2011 and 2022. In 47 elections (87%), the party that controlled the district beforehand won. In the remaining seven elections (7%), party control switched. The most recent special state legislative election to change party control was in 2019, when Democrats won a district previously represented by a Republican.

Keep reading 

More than 5,000 pages added to the Federal Register so far this year

We recently brought you an end-of-the-year update on pages added to the Federal Register in 2022. Last year, the Biden administration added 80,756 pages, making 2022 the register’s seventh-most active year since 1936.

Here’s how things look as we round out the first month of 2023.

Between Jan. 23 and 27, the Federal Register added 1,810 pages for a year-to-date total of 5,720 pages.

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for regulatory and deregulatory actions.

The Biden Administration has added an average of 1,430 pages to the Federal Register each week this year. At that rate, the total number of pages would reach 74,360 by the end of the year.

The most recent addition to the Federal Register includes 499 notices, four presidential documents, 38 proposed rules, and 46 final rules.

Certain rules are classified as significant, meaning they have the potential to have large effects on the economy, environment, public health, or state/local governments.

Some of those significant additions include:

  • Implementation of the Helping American Victims Affected by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act of 2021 from the State Department; and,
  • Consideration of revisions to the regulatory capital framework for the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation from the Farm Credit Administration.

The Biden administration has issued 26 significant proposed rules, 19 significant final rules, and one significant notice as of Jan. 27.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of our Administrative State Project. This neutral encyclopedic resource analyzes the administrative state, its philosophical origins, legal precedents, and scholarly examinations. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

Keep reading

Come work with Ballotpedia

Ballotpedia is a collaborative team of fast learners and creative problem solvers. We are eager to make the world a better place by providing every citizen with the information they need to make informed decisions in elections at every level.

Ballotpedia has several open roles across our team, including Communications Manager, Data Sales Manager, Director of External Relations, Elections Staff Writer, and News Researcher.

If you want to help provide neutral, unbiased information to voters across the country and work hard with this team to achieve that goal—join us by applying here!

Keep reading