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State Rep. Seth Grove is now the chairman of the Pennsylvania House Oversight Committee, an entity he had previously pushed for that has subpoena powers and intentions to investigate the executive branch.

House leadership named the Dover Township Republican chairman Thursday, Feb. 21. He had introduced legislation to create such a committee in both chambers last year, but it never saw a floor vote.

Yet the committee came to fruition, at least in the House, after he spoke with House leadership and got it included in the biannual rules that easily passed last month.

“The work this committee will do this session, and how it’s led, will set a precedent for years to come," Grove said. "The goal of this committee is to create a culture of oversight in the House."

While some Democrats have expressed skepticism of the committee for potential partisan play, most agree if used for righteous purposes it will be good for the government.

"It's a question of motivation," House Democratic Caucus spokesman Bill Patton said. "But we believe the Republicans will operate this committee the way it's intended to be rather than (for) political fishing expeditions. We'll continue to work with them in a bipartisan way."

More: EDITORIAL: Be wary of new panel

More: Pa. House's new committee with powers to investigate administration provokes Dem skepticism

The U.S Congress and some states already have such committees, including the South Carolina House, whose chairman, Republican Rep. Weston J. Newton, won an award last year because of the committee's work and inspired Grove's legislation.

The basis for legislative subpoena powers in Pennsylvania dates back to Act 19 of 1843, which gave the Legislature the ability to issue subpoenas to force anyone to testify before the chambers.

But House rules previously limited that power to the Appropriations Committee — which Grove serves on — and the Ethics Committee. 

Grove has previously said the committee will mostly use its subpoena ability as a "hammer" to more easily get information from the executive branch that previously had been difficult to obtain under both Democratic and Republican leadership.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

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