McGeehan will not seek another term in ’14

State Rep. Mike McGeehan announced on Friday that he will not seek another term in 2014.

“It’s not a retirement. I’m moving to another chapter of my life,” he said.

McGeehan (D-173rd dist.), 53, was first elected in 1990.

The lawmaker indicated that he will likely pursue opportunities outside of government.

In addition, he noted that next year’s election will be the first one in the newly drawn 173rd district, which has long been based in Tacony and Holmesburg, but has moved north.

“I thought it was the right time for me. It’s time for a new perspective,” he said.

McGeehan declined to endorse a successor.

“That’s up to the people,” he said. “You can’t supplant the wisdom of the people. I will help make the transition for whoever they choose as the new rep.”

McGeehan recalled working with City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski and state Rep. John Perzel in 1999 to help residents of Wissinoming who were ordered out of their homes when the city determined the houses were sinking and in danger of collapse.

In 2001, he worked in a bipartisan way to pass a bill requiring sprinkler systems in college dormitories.

“Not a single person has died in a college dormitory fire in 12 years,” he said.

McGeehan said he enjoyed the cooperation needed on the sinking homes issue and sprinkler bill.

“Sadly, a lot of that is missing today,” he said.

McGeehan’s district office will remain open throughout 2014, and he said his aides can help people on any state issues.

“I couldn’t ask for a finer staff,” he said.

McGeehan, who serves as Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee, spent 18 years on the House Labor Relations Committee, spearheading fire safety and protection initiatives.

Also, he served as majority chairman of the House Professional Licensure Committee, which considers legislation and regulations dealing with 29 boards and commissions that fall under the Department of State.

As Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee, McGeehan said he takes particular pride in last month’s House passage of Pennsylvania’s first comprehensive transportation funding package in decades.

McGeehan won a hard-fought race in 1990, replacing Republican Fran Weston, who did not seek another term. He cruised to victory every two years, sometimes without opposition. Republicans came after him hard in 2006, spending a lot of money, but he rolled to victory with 76 percent of the vote.

“I want to say how grateful I am to the people of the district,” he said. “I’m looking forward to serving out the year.”

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Two bills to reduce the size of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate passed the House on Dec. 17. Both bills now head to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 1234 would reduce the House of Representatives to 153 members from 203. It passed by a vote of 148–50. House Bill 1716 would reduce the Senate to 38 members from its current 50. It passed by a vote of 150–48.

To change the size of the legislature requires an amendment to the state Constitution, which means the same bill must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions, and subsequently approved by referendum vote of the people of Pennsylvania.

The measures were supported by Reps. Tom Murt, Ed Neilson, Brendan Boyle, Kevin Boyle, John Sabatina Jr. and John Taylor.

Voting against the bills were Reps. Mike McGeehan, James Clay, Mark Cohen and Dwight Evans.

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Jared Solomon, a Democratic candidate in the 202nd Legislative District, responded to a recent study that showed a 62-percent growth in poverty since 1999 in the Lower Northeast.

Solomon, who is challenging longtime Rep. Mark Cohen in the primary, proposed the following: create resource hubs for community members, establish a Lower Northeast Community Development Corporation, create a local anti-poverty collaborative, make food stamps more available, and better educate and train the workforce.

“We can’t just sit idle and talk about the growth in poverty, we must respond — and respond fast,” Solomon said. “Today, I’m calling on our local, state and federal officials to act — before success becomes unattainable. “For those on the ground floor, this shouldn’t take any of us by surprise. What we now need is for the civic, business, faith-based and political communities to unite to come up with some serious strategies across the Lower Northeast.”

Solomon founded the community group Take Back Your Neighborhood.

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U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democratic candidate for governor, received endorsements from Teamsters Locals 249 and 926, based in Pittsburgh, on Dec. 19.

“Allyson Schwartz is far and away the strongest candidate to help working families across Pennsylvania,” said Joe Rossi, Teamsters Local 249 president. “She will be a governor we can count on to fight for us and leave no one behind in Pennsylvania.”

Schwartz has also received endorsements from Rep. Bob Brady and the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee.

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John Hanger, a Democratic candidate for governor, is calling on his opponents to limit their spending in the primary to $3 million to $5 million.

“That limit would allow candidates to reach the voters with their messages, but prevent any one candidate from buying the election,” he said.

Hanger is a former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. ••