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Local News

Damage that closed Pa. House chamber repaired ahead of schedule

The Pennsylvania House chamber. (Credit: Capital-Star photo by Peter Hall)

Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
February 15, 2024

Work to repair damage from a water leak above the state House chamber was completed more than a month ahead of schedule, Speaker Joanna McClinton’s office quietly announced last week.

In an update on her House webpage Feb. 9, McClinton said workers found only modest damage to the structure from a burst pipe last winter. 

“The Capitol Preservation Committee — whose mission it is to conserve and restore the Pennsylvania State Capitol and its contents to preserve and maintain them for future generations — has inspected and signed off on the repairs,” the post said.

McClinton’s office said the scaffolding used in the repair work will now be moved across the Capitol to the Senate chamber and erected for an upcoming project there. Senate Republican spokesperson Erica Clayton Wright said the lamps in the light fixtures will be replaced.

McClinton announced in December that the repairs to the ornate and historic ceiling in the House chamber would require its closure for 10-to-12 weeks. As a result, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address was held in the Capitol rotunda, the first time a governor has given an address there in the building’s nearly 120-year history.

The work was expected to be completed in time for the House to return for regular voting session days on March 18.

Republican critics noted the timing of the repairs coincided with the resignation of Rep. John Galloway (D-Bucks), leaving the House tied 101-101 until Galloway’s replacement was elected and sworn in. 

McClinton’s spokesperson Nicole Reigelman said in December that Galloway’s expected resignation played no role in setting the repair project’s timeline.

The announcement last week about the conclusion of the work was made the same day Rep. Joe Adams (R-Wayne) announced his immediate resignation, giving Democrats a 101-100 edge.

Jim Prokopiak, a Pennsbury school board member, won a special election Tuesday for Galloway’s former 140th Legislative District seat, beating Republican Candace Cabanas and restoring the 102-vote majority House Democrats held before Galloway resigned.

Department of General Services spokesperson Eric Veronikis said the damage was caused by a burst heating coil above the chamber ceiling. He said work would cost about $150,000, with a large portion – about $121,000 – required for scaffolding and floor protection.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.