The fiscal cliff plunge means New Year's Day is no holiday in the U.S. Congress and so too are lawmakers in Harrisburg at their posts.
The constitutional calendar dictates that House and Senate members take the oath of office on the first Tuesday in January. For the first time in 22 years it falls on New Year's Day.
So today scores of bleary-eyed lawmakers their family and friends have descended on the Capitol for the biannual swearing in ceremony.
In all 201 members (rather than 203) will take the oath in the House (Rep. Mike Smith resigned to take a seat in the Senate and Rep. Frank Farry of Bucks Co. is ill).
Twenty-five Senate members who won their races in Nov. will take the oath.
In the House, 29 new lawmakers will be sworn in at noon (watch all the action live at www.pcntv.com at noon), 19 Democrats and ten Republicans, leaving a 111-91 GOP majority.
Among the new members of the House Democratic caucus is Rep. Brian Sims of Philadelphia, the first openly gay representative elected to the state legislature. Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D., Phila.) was elected the second woman to head the legislative black caucus.
The Senate welcomes four new members, three Democrats and one Republican, narrowing the margin of GOP control to four votes, 27-23.
Top agenda items in the session ahead, state budget passage, pension reform, transportation funding. Senate Majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware) said he wants to see legislation approved to address recommendations made by the child abuse task force formed in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.
Dare we say, measures to address gun violence, medical marijana and gay rights - even same sex marriage - may also appear on the agenda this session? Democratic lawmakers say they will introduce bills to limit assault weapons and large capacity magazines, legalize medical marijuana and end discrimination against gay people in the workplace and in housing.
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