HARRISBURG — State Rep. Bryan Cutler, in his first comments after swearing-in to become the second-highest-ranking member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, told his fellow lawmakers Tuesday they need to get to know each other, to learn what drives them, in order to govern effectively in Harrisburg.
And for Cutler — a Peach Bottom Republican and the new House majority leader — his inspiration was right there in the room.
“He is my hero,” Cutler said of Noah Staley, a blond 11-year-old sitting nearby in the ornate House chamber.
Diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was a baby, Noah received the medical treatment he needed after Cutler met his parents at the Solanco Fair in 2010 and then made calls to get the treatment covered by insurance.
“That’s truly what this job is all about — advocating, working on behalf of all the individuals like that in our district,” Cutler said to start the 2019-20 legislative session.
Noah , now a fifth-grader at Hans Herr Elementary, smiled widely as the 203 lawmakers, their staff and their families gave him a standing ovation.
“Noah’s story is also one of the reasons why I invite us to do more than just debate issues. We need to know each other … learn one another’s life stories in a personal and meaningful way,” Cutler said.
The lawmaker, who has represented southern Lancaster County since 2007, is serving his first term in the role that will allow him to drive the policy agenda for the Republican-controlled House for the next two years.
A 43-year-old lawyer and former X-ray technologist, Cutler is also the highest-ranking of the 10 other state House members and two state Senators who represent parts of Lancaster County. All 13 are returning for the new session after successful re-election years.
They include Democratic Rep. Mike Sturla and Republican Reps. Steven Mentzer, of Lititz; Mindy Fee, of Manheim; Brett Miller, of East Hempfield; Keith Greiner, of Upper Leacock; David Hickernell, of West Donegal; Dave Zimmerman, of East Earl.
Also representing small parts of eastern Lancaster County are Republican Reps. Mark Gillen, Jim Cox and John Lawrence.
Republican state Sens. Ryan Aument, of Landisville, and Scott Martin, of Martic Township, are also returning. Martin, who was the only one whose seat was not up for re-election in 2018, is starting the second half of his first four-year term.
Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremonies were celebratory as legislators hosted family and friends for receptions in their offices throughout the Capitol.
A few matters of business came up on the floor as the House members approved new rules under which they’ll operate for the coming session. Some changes included the establishment of a new House Government Oversight Committee to handle investigations referred by legislative leaders, and a direction for the House Ethics Committee to handle all investigations of sexual harassment by members of House.