Pennsylvania is the only state in the US that provides its lieutenant governor with housing. However, this is likely about to change, as the residence is set to be turned over to veteran support programs.
The Pennsylvania Senate voted Oct. 23 to transfer the Fort Indiantown Gap residence to the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which will use it for supporting the state’s veterans programs as well as supporting current and survivor National Guard families. The vote was 48-0 without debate.
The bill will now proceed to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for further consideration.
The three-story, 2,400-square-foot stone house has served as the lieutenant governor’s residence since 1971, when it was converted to this role from being the governor’s summer home. The late Ernest “Ernie” Kline was the first lieutenant governor to occupy the residence. The Kline family moved to Palmyra following his time in office.
Current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman does not occupy the residence, being the first in that position to do so since Kline held office. Fetterman’s announcement to not live in the house, which had been the site of controversy under its previous occupant, former Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, set into motion a public debate about how the historic building should be used.
PennLive reported that the residence costs from $100,000 to $400,000 each year to maintain, depending on occupancy.
Under Fetterman’s direction, the pool at the Lieutenant Governor’s residence had been opened this summer for use by various organizations within the state. Second Lady Gisele Fetterman headed the project and showed LebTown around the complex earlier this year.
In preparation for this use, the 30-by-40 foot pool was updated with an ADA-compliant ramp, safety messaging, pool safety supplies, a lifeguard stand, and more.
Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) initially proposed that Senate Bill 750 include selling the lieutenant governor’s residence and putting proceeds toward the Veterans’ Trust Fund.
His Sept. 24 press release explains that “due to potential restrictions preventing civilians from accessing the property,” the bill was changed, keeping the property in government possession.
Pennsylvania National Guard State Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Keith Hickox confirmed that the residence is within the pending secure perimeter of Fort Indiantown Gap, a collection of gates and fences similar to what other military bases in the country have already.
A timeline and details for the transfer to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs were not immediately available, but a fiscal note attached to the bill set a 12-month deadline for the transfer from when the legislation took effect.
Lt. Gov. Fetterman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the programs begun this summer are expected to continue even if the bill passes. According to reporting by the Associated Press, Fetterman said he looks forward to signing the bill.