Feb. 27, 2024

Department of State Secretary Al Schmidt, Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs Arion Claggett, Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs Kalonji Johnson, Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions Jonathan Marks, and Director of the Buruea of Finance Operations Kim Mattis testified this morning before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their line of questions on how prepared the Department of State (DOS) is for the upcoming 2024 elections, as well as the lack of uniformity in the Commonwealth’s election process. Additionally, Republicans asked how the DOS plans to spend proposed increases in “Voter Registration and Education” equitably, the Governor’s unilateral decision to begin automatic voter registration, and the department’s continued plans to improve the professional licensure process.

Key Takeaways

· DOS has earned a reputation as an agency of failures: from slow professional licensure processing to the botched replacement of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Elections (SURE) System. At a time when trust in our elections should be at an all-time high, and frankly must be in order to provide voters with confidence in the results, House Republicans remain concerned about the administration of elections for 2024.

· House Republicans demanded assurances that the additional $5 million proposed for “Voter Registration and Education” will be shared equally around the Commonwealth and not just in Democrat counties.

· House Republicans pressed the DOS for more transparency regarding election administration and reporting. Uniformity in the elections process remains a significant problem in Pennsylvania heading into the 2024 elections. House Republicans called for the DOS to step in when counties are not following the Election Code.

· While the DOS has improved professional licensure processes, significant issues remain, perhaps most notably with the implementation of the nurse licensure compact which continues to be an outstanding issue. House Republicans asked what the DOS can do to ensure this is finally completed.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Lou Schmitt grills the Department of State on failing to implement the SURE system in time for the 2024 elections. 

Rep. Kristin Marcell shares her frustration with DOS’s inability to complete the nurse licensure compact. She asks for a timeline on when it will be complete. 

Rep. Clint Owlett asks DOS if Pennsylvania has uniform elections throughout the Commonwealth in accordance with the Constitution.  

Full Hearing

Watch the full hearing here.

Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Chairman of the PA House Appropriations Committee
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives