Gop Leader: Williams Should Be Seated State Senator's Position Likely to End Debate over Whether Newcomer Meets Residency Rules

By Routh, Julian | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), December 30, 2018 | Go to article overview

Gop Leader: Williams Should Be Seated State Senator's Position Likely to End Debate over Whether Newcomer Meets Residency Rules


Routh, Julian, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The state Senate's top Republican announced Friday that he will recommend that Democratic Sen.-elect Lindsey Williams be seated in Pennsylvania's Legislature, likely ending the monthslong political battle over whether she could take the post following a residency dispute.

In a letter to Ms. Williams on Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati noted that the residency requirement -that candidates for office must live in Pennsylvania for four years before being elected -hadn't been fully vetted by the courts and that "no precise constitutional definition of residency exists," according to a news release from his office.

Therefore, Mr. Scarnati wrote, he will recommend that Ms. Williams be seated, meaning that barring any unforeseen developments, she will be sworn in to her 38th District seat Tuesday.

In an interview and statement, Ms. Williams reacted to the letter with kind words for Republican leaders and their caucus -notably their "professionalism and efficiency in bringing this matter to a close as quickly as possible."

"While these last few weeks have been stressful for me personally, the Republican caucus and its leadership has been extremely fair and thorough in their evaluation of this situation," Ms. Williams said.

The battle over Ms. Williams' residency erupted after she was elected in November, when Senate Republican leaders cast doubt on whether she met the four-year residency requirement to run for the seat. At their request, Ms. Williams submitted more than 100 documents that she said proved she met the requirements.

"I understand that they needed to take their time and do their due diligence and review the materials I submitted," Ms. Williams told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "and I appreciate that. I'm glad they came to the same conclusion I've stated all along: that I do meet the residency requirements."

In his letter, Mr. Scarnati said he presumed the documents to be truthful, but that if any information emerged conflicting with them, the issue could be revisited on the Senate floor. Ms. Williams said she understands why Mr. Scarnati included that in his letter, but added it doesn't worry her because she's "provided everything I could possibly provide."

Mr. Scarnati's statement came on a day when grassroots groups took coordinated action across the state, calling on Republicans to seat Ms. Williams.

Inside the Allegheny County Courthouse at noon, a group of demonstrators gathered - a few big political names in tow, including Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa - to publicly "remind" the GOP that refusing to seat the Democratic senator-elect would impede democracy and ignore the will of the voters. …

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