Senate Advances Bill to Move Up PA’s Presidential Primary Date

State Sen. Dave Argall sitting in the Senate State Government Committee meeting on August 30, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

August 30, 2023

Senate Republicans advanced a bill changing Pennsylvania’s presidential primary out of committee Wednesday, while House Democrats plan to pass their own bill in the fall.  

Lawmakers in Harrisburg have agreed to advance bills that change the date of Pennsylvania’s upcoming presidential primary election. The only question left to be answered is how early will Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary be held. 

Legislators from both parties support moving the primary date forward for two reasons: It will make Pennsylvania relevant in deciding the outcome of the presidential primary and it will allow Jewish Pennsylvanians the opportunity to celebrate Passover. Currently, the primary is scheduled for April 23.

At a Senate State Government Committee meeting on Tuesday, Senate Republicans advanced Senate Bill 224, which was introduced by State Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) and moves the presidential primary to March 17, 2024, by a unanimous vote. The bill now awaits a full vote on the Senate Floor. 

“With this vote today, we will do two important things. First we will give Pennsylvania voters in presidential primaries a much stronger voice. That’s been something we have talked about in the past. The Senate has unanimously approved similar legislation. This time we hope the House concurs and sends it along to the Governor,” Argall said during the committee meeting. “Secondly, it will avoid a conflict in 2024 with Passover, also an important goal.”

During the committee meeting, State Sen. Cris Dush, introduced an amendment to the bill that limits the primary change to the 2024 presidential primary election.   

State Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre), who is the chair of the House State Government Committee, announced on Monday his support for moving the presidential primary date to an earlier time.

While giving credence to Argall’s bill, Conklin expressed support for House Bill 1634, which was introduced by State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and would move the 2024 primary date to April 2. 

“I am pleased to support the Kenyatta bill, which thoughtfully moves the presidential primary to April 2. This not only gives Pennsylvanians a greater voice in national politics but also starts the petition process on January 2, after the holiday season, allowing for a more family-friendly and inclusive timeline,” Conklin said in a statement.  

State Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia), who is a prime cosponsor of HB 1634, echoed the same sentiments of the other lawmakers.

“Pennsylvania is a pivotal battleground state and moving up the primary election will provide Pennsylvanians the political weight we deserve by giving us a voice earlier in the process. At the same time, Jewish Pennsylvanians shouldn’t have to choose between celebrating Passover and going to the polls,” Solomon said in a statement.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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