HARRISBURG - State Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, one of the Capitol's most vocal advocates for taxpayer-funded school vouchers and architect of a bill to let the state take over the City of Harrisburg's finances, says he will not seek reelection next year.
He was one of three veteran Pennsylvania lawmakers who said Thursday they won't run again.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my service in the state legislature," said Piccola, 63, a Republican in his fourth full term as a senator from Dauphin County, having served almost two decades in the state House before that.
Piccola gave no further explanation for his decision.
Also leaving the legislature when his term ends next year: State Rep. Curt Schroder (R., Chester), chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee.
Reached for comment last night, Schroder said he had told his family during the 2010 election that if he won, this would be his final term.
This year, he landed a significant win when Gov. Corbett signed into a law a bill Schroder had been pushing to limit the liability for negligence of defendants in some civil court cases.
But at age 49, he said, "If I am ever going to do anything else, the time is right now to start making a change."
Schroder said he was watching television last month when St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement right after his team's World Series win. La Russa, a big league manager for 33 years, said he felt it was time to move on.
"There were people who were shocked, but I thought to myself: 'I get it,' " said Schroder, a lawyer in his ninth term in the legislature.
He said he would spend the next year figuring out his next career move. "It's a bit like walking off the cliff: you don't know where you are going to land or how hard the fall will be," he said.
The third legislator to bow out was State Rep. Ed Staback of Lackawanna County, who won't seek a 14th term. The ranking Democrat on the House Game and Fisheries Committee, he said he planned to spend more time with his family and pursue interests as an outdoorsman.
Piccola, as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has been one of the loudest voices in the Capitol for taxpayer-funded vouchers to allow poor students in the state's worst-performing schools to attend private, parochial or other public schools.
He has also been the prime mover and shaker on the so-called state takeover bill for Harrisburg's troubled city finances. Approved by the GOP-controlled legislature last month and supported by Corbett, the bill is a bid to force Harrisburg, which is in his district, to pay down $300 million in debt tied to its trash incinerator. The bill has been controversial, as a divided City Council filed for federal bankruptcy protection in an attempt to reduce some of its debt.
Also a matter of controversy for Piccola: a GOP-drafted plan for the once-in-a-decade legislative redistricting process, which redraws districts based on population shifts.
The plan would reconfigure Piccola's district to exclude predominantly Democratic Harrisburg, prompting outcries from Democrats that the GOP was engaging in gerrymandering to ensure Piccola's reelection.
Piccola has said he had nothing to do with that plan and did not ask for the city to be cut out of his district.