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01/19/2021 08:41 PM
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House Speaker Biographies


John M. Perzel

(Elected following the death of Matthew J. Ryan)

Born: January 7, 1950, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA.  Member of the House: 179th Legislative District, representing part of Philadelphia County, 1979-2010.  Affiliation: Republican.

John Perzel graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1969 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from Troy State University in Alabama in 1975.  After college, he returned to Philadelphia and became a maitre d' at Pavio's Restaurant in Somerton. Perzel married the former Sheryl Stokes, and they have 4 children: Andrew, David, John Jr., and Samuel.  In November of 1978, Perzel was elected to represent the 179th Legislative District and was re-elected for 15 more successive terms.   

During his career as a legislator, Perzel was the prime sponsor of four bills which were signed into law: Act 231 in 1982, Act 115 in 2001, Act 34 in 2002, and Act 158 in 2004.  Perzel was the prime sponsor of the 2002 Congressional redistricting legislation, or Act 34.  This legislation had to reduce the number of Congressional seats by 2, following the 2000 Census.

Perzel was elected to the following leadership positions: Republican Policy chairman, 1989-1991; Republican Whip, 1993-1994; and Republican Leader, 1995-2003.  Perzel was sworn in as the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House on April 15, 2003, following the death of Matthew J. Ryan.  Perzel served as the chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee in 2009-2010 before leaving the House.

While Speaker, he presided over the passage of the creation of the slots casino industry in Pennsylvania, which was Act 71 of 2004.  He also convened Special Session No. 1 of 2005, which dealt with the issue of property tax relief.  During his Speakership, the 2006 Healthy Farms and Healthy Schools Act, or Act 184 of 2006, which developed a grant program to help educate young children and their caregivers about healthy eating habits, was signed into law.

Perzel supported the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, and in the spring of 2004, he and his wife Sheryl served as the honorary committee chairmen of the coalition’s “67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania” traveling photo exhibit at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia.

Historical Member Biography

To view this Speaker's House Historical Biography, click here.