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Democrats maintain tight control of Pennsylvania House after special election


HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats will retain their one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after Pittsburgh voters elected former congressional aide Lindsay Powell on Tuesday.

Powell’s victory gives Democrats a 102-101 majority in the House. Republicans have a 28-22 majority in the Senate, creating a divided legislature that has prevented Democrats from passing priorities such as expanded protections for LGBTQ+ people and gun control measures, and Republicans from win on issues such as school vouchers.

The divided Legislature also meant that Republican senators were unable to present to voters proposed constitutional amendments limiting the governor’s power and implementing voter identification.

Most recently, the division plunged the state into a two-month budget impasse after negotiations over education funding deteriorated, in part because of the debate over education vouchers.

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Powell identified affordable and dignified housing, a strong local economy and community assets such as robust recreation centers, libraries and strong infrastructure as key issues. Housing, she said, is a particular concern. People feel displaced by rising costs and older people want to stay in their homes.

“People want to make sure they can stay in their community and settle in Pittsburgh — and keep Pittsburgh home,” she said in a previous interview.

Powell, 32, is director of workforce strategies for InnovatePGH, a public-private partnership aimed at making the city a leading technology hub. She previously worked in Washington, DC, for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries.

“I’m joking, but in reality, I’ve had the honor of holding every position in government except this one,” she previously said.

Powell defeated Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith in the heavily Democratic district. She will fill the position vacated by progressive Democrat Sara Innamorato, who resigned in July to take local office in Allegheny County.

The House is scheduled to return to the Capitol next week to resume work on a long-awaited state budget.


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