Mar. 29, 2023

Acting Secretary Al Schmidt, along with Jonathan Marks, Deputy Secretary for Elections and Commissions, Kalonji Johnson, Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs, Arion Claggett, Acting Commissioner, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, and Kim Mattis, Director, Bureau of Finance and Operations, of the Department of State testified before the House Appropriations Committee. House Republicans focused their questions on updates to the SURE system, the implementation of Act 88 of 2022, and delays in the Professional Licensure System. Additionally, Republicans asked what DOS can do to help with elections issues in Luzerne County.

Key Takeaways

· The Department of State has a poor history of sharing resources equally around the Commonwealth. House Republicans believe this budget should not only reflect how much but also where dollars will be spent.

o Nowhere is this more important than Voter Registration and Education.

· The delays in the update of the State Uniform Registry of Elections (SURE) System are unacceptable. House Republicans want to see accountability from DOS in the form of publicly available benchmarks and timelines on how and when the update will be completed.

· House Republicans are pleased to hear Acting Secretary Schmidt publicly state Act 88 of 2022 – which ended the use of “Zuckerbucks” and provided more money to counties to run elections – has helped enhance election integrity in the Commonwealth.

· The delays in the Pennsylvania Licensure System are also unacceptable. Citizens should not have to wait months for paperwork to be completed.

o The Governor’s pledge that Pennsylvanians who wait more than 90 days to receive their license will get a full refund is a good first step but not a solution.

· House Republicans are supportive of DOS working closely with Luzerne County as they address the recent elections issues which have drawn national attention.

Notable Q&A

Rep. Nelson asks the Department of State about updates for the SURE system and an update on the implementation of Act 88 which banned the use of Zuckerbucks.

Rep. Struzzi questions the Department of State on efforts to reduce the wait time for professional licenses.

Watch Full Hearing