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With Legislative Gains, PA Democrats Hope For Progress On Key Issues

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HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) - A few of Pennsylvania's state House and Senate races still aren't finalized, but it appears legislative Democrats have picked up at least five new seats in the Senate, and eleven in the House.

They're still in the minority of both chambers, but party staff and leaders say the gains could still have some practical value.

House Democratic Spokesman Bill Patton said getting nearly a dozen new seats changes his caucus's calculation on a few key priorities--chiefly, maintaining union power, making healthcare more accessible, and hiking the minimum wage

"The calculus for the last couple of years for House Democrats has been trying to find 20 or more House Republicans to work with on a particular issue," he said. "Now, that number will be significantly lower."

In the Senate, where Republicans previously held a two-thirds supermajority, minority leader Jay Costa said Democrats may not have newfound success launching initiatives--but they will be able to stymie Republicans more easily.

"You know, I can see if we had more folks, we wouldn't have done some of the things we've done around women's healthcare in the past couple of years," Costa said, referring to bills that aimed to reduce access to abortions.

Like Patton, he said he also foresees more success on labor issues, among other things.

GOP staff and lawmakers noted, many of the Democratic pickups were in moderate areas, and knocked off some of the Republicans who had been most willing to work across the aisle.

"The Republicans that are left, it seems to me, are probably more conservative and less likely to cross over," noted GOP Dauphin County Representative Greg Rothman.