The Lead

Pa. Senate swears in new Republican member

By: - February 28, 2023 1:27 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

A Republican who won a Senate special election in January took the oath of office on Tuesday, bringing the 50-seat upper chamber to full complement.

Sen. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland, filled a seat vacated by a Republican lawmaker who resigned last year to work for Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland. She represents the 27th Senatorial District, which includes all of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, and Snyder counties and part of Luzerne County.

Her term ends in 2024.

“I am honored by the support I received from the people across the 27th District,” she said in a statement after the election. “I’m committed to working with my colleagues to advance legislation and enact policies that will create more and better opportunities for workers, businesses, and families across our commonwealth.”

A graduate of Bloomsburg University, Culver served as a staff leader in the office of former state Rep. Merle Phillips for more than 20 years. First elected as a state representative in 2010, Culver was a first-time House committee chairperson during the 2023-24 legislative session. She also served on the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

She was serving her seventh term in office at the time of her victory in the special election against Patricia Lawton, a Democrat from Columbia County. The results of the race strengthened the GOP’s 28-22 Senate majority.

In 2022, Culver voted in favor of a five-part constitutional amendment package that proposed amending the state’s governing document to declare that there is “no constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortion or other right relating to abortion.”

The amendment package also proposed voter identification for every election, a system for election audits, a provision to allow gubernatorial candidates to choose their running mate, and a measure that lets lawmakers disapprove regulations without facing a gubernatorial veto.

On her final day in the House last week, Culver — switching her position from previous years — voted against two legislative proposals providing relief for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. 

The bills — a constitutional amendment and a standalone bill — would let survivors file otherwise outdated lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that covered up their crimes. Both proposals were sent to the Senate for consideration, but they might not see a vote from the full chamber.

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