Joanna McClinton Becomes First Female Speaker of Pennsylvania House

Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, speaks on the Pennsylvania House floor, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023 at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Ashley Adams

February 28, 2023

In a surprising twist, Rep. Mark Rozzi resigns as speaker and voices his support for Rep. Joanna McClinton who is elected to the position by the new Democratic majority.

History was made on the floor of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Tuesday as Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) became the first female — and second Black — speaker.

Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) resigned his position as speaker during today’s session after serving in the role for close to two months. 

Using their majority for the first time, Democratic lawmakers elected McClinton to the position, voting 102-99 over Republican nominee Rep. Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset).

It is also the first time ever both chambers of the state legislature are led by females, as Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) runs the Senate as president pro tempore.

Rozzi was named speaker in January in a compromise when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on who was in control of the state House of Representatives.

When he was elected speaker, Rozzi said he would govern as an independent. But in his resignation speech, Rozzi said the way he was elected speaker was a prime example of what’s wrong with Harrisburg.

He said he was used, with Republican lawmakers assuming he would do their bidding and turn against his party. Rozzi said he wouldn’t be used any longer. He said the voters elected a Democratic majority in November and expected majority floor leader McClinton to lead the chamber. He said he wouldn’t deny the will of the people anymore.

Rozzi called McClinton “one of the most intelligent and compassionate women I have met in politics.”

Republican leader Rep. Bryan Cutler (Lancaster) said in a statement that Rozzi broke the trust of the party.

“Right now, the House is in dire need of a reset, and I remain committed to working with anyone who is willing to work with us to find solutions,” Cutler said. “However, the only way we will be able to move forward is by lowering the temperatures that have risen due to an unforeseen lack of integrity that has set back our ability to work across the aisle.”

For those who are skeptical about McClinton’s leadership, she asked one simple question.

“Give me a chance,” she said.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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