The current two-year legislative term is set to expire in just a matter of days, but preparations have already begun for the next term, which will begin in January. All four state caucuses in Harrisburg have elected their leadership for the next session.
Among those that were selected is Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny) who will be chair of the House Democratic caucus.
“I’m very honored to have the support of my friends and colleagues,” Miller told me on a recent chat over FaceTime. “Leadership is a challenge, there’s no doubt about it, no matter what your role is. I do think the Democrats have put together an excellent team, very representative of our party, of our caucus, of Pennsylvania. So we’re very excited about what we offer. We also congratulate our friends on the other side who I know have made some changes too, so we look forward to working with them.”
Miller has been active on a number of fronts in recent months, including education equality for all Pennsylvanians and working to help keep people in their homes amid the pandemic and resulting shutdown. It has been a rough year and it figures to remain so for who knows how long.
“It’s tough to live when you don’t have a home,” Miller said. “We have always been committed to try to work on those problems to find ladders or opportunities and support for those who are struggling in those scenarios. There’s no doubt that the COVID crisis has made those situations worse. That’s a lot of what COVID does—no matter what your problem was before COVID, almost universally it’s worse during COVID…We are very concerned about those Pennsylvanians and their families who are going to be in a home type of crisis and we have to be sure we don’t get to a homeless crisis.”
I also talked with Miller about his annual “Disability and Mental Health Summit” which takes place every March in the Pittsburgh area. The PCC is looking to promote and cover this year’s event, which will most likely be virtual because of the pandemic.
“While we may not be able to do things in person right now, that’s okay,” Miller said. “We still have a lot of issues we need to talk about, we are going to find a virtual platform for us to at least do some of that work. We’re going to be largely talking about some of the COVID-related challenges that are impacting Pennsylvanians with disability and mental health issues. So there will be that, but we have so much to do in that arena, whether it’s dealing with COVID or not. Life for many Pennsylvanians with disability and mental health issues was not perfect before COVID. So we have a lot of things to do to deal with that.”