Republicans Condemn FBI Seizure of Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry’s Phone

One day after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched former President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach home on Monday, agents seized the cell phone belonging to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10), eliciting outrage on his side of the political aisle.

The FBI has refused to comment on the investigation, leaving it presently uncertain what messages or other data the bureau seeks to obtain from the lawmaker’s device. Perry, who represents Harrisburg, York and surrounding communities, has been at odds with Congress’s Democratic majority and Joe Biden’s White House over investigations related to the January 6, 2021 riot and Capitol Building breach. The U.S. House select committee probing the event issued a subpoena to the congressman with which he declined to comply.

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Ohio Republican Party Condemns FBI’s Mar-a-Lago Search

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik this week condemned the search of former President Donald Trump’s residence at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, FL that the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed on Monday.

Many in the ex-president’s party have expressed outrage that Biden Administration Attorney General Merrick Garland secured a warrant for federal agents to surprise Trump with a search of his home. No Justice Department has ever taken similar action to investigate a former commander-in-chief.

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Pennsylvania House Republicans Want Education Secretary’s Gender Policy Reversed — or His Resignation

Twenty Republican members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week called on acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eric Hagarty to reverse controversial state guidelines concerning schools’ treatment of sex and gender. 

On a webpage titled “Creating Gender-Inclusive Schools and Classrooms,” the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) calls “binary gender,” e.g., the idea that gender and biological sex are properly denoted as either “male” or “female,” a “faulty concept.” The document also suggests that teachers host a “gender-neutral day” for students above the second grade wherein kids would identify ways in which they will eschew gender stereotypes on that day. Elsewhere, the guidance counsels teachers to ask a student his or her gender identity before assuming the right pronouns by which to call the child. 

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Ohio GOP Congressional Delegation Wants Garland and Wray to Explain Mar-a-Lago Search

Republican members of Ohio’s congressional delegation reacted with mistrust that the federal government had sufficient cause to conduct its surprise search of former President Donald Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, FL earlier this week.

The former president himself has characterized the move as “prosecutorial misconduct” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice to unfairly target President Joe Biden’s most high-profile adversary. Sources with knowledge of the event told the press that agents intended to gather evidence regarding whether Trump brought classified documents from the White House to his Palm Beach residence.

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Pennsylvania Governor and Business Leaders Celebrate Corporate Tax Reduction

Pennsylvania business advocates joined Governor Tom Wolf (D) at the York County Economic Alliance on Monday to welcome an upcoming change in tax policy championed by entrepreneurs across the commonwealth.

Via the new budget agreed to this summer by Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly, Pennsylvania will begin a decade-long phased halving of its corporate net income tax (CNIT). Of the forty-four states with a business income tax, the size of the Keystone State’s current 9.99-percent rate is second only to New Jersey’s 11.5-percent tax. Besides these two states, only four others levy top business income tax rates that exceed nine percent.

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Pennsylvania House Democrat Introduces Bill to Create Gun Purchase Permits

Pennsylvania state Representative Emily Kinkead (D-Pittsburgh) announced on Friday that she will sponsor a bill to require residents to obtain permits to buy guns. 

Her legislation is a companion to a Senate measure authored by Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia). The senator began touting his legislation the day after the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX in which an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers. 

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Ohio Police to Get $5 Million for Body Cameras

Ohio police agencies will soon be eligible to receive $5 million in new funding for body cameras and related equipment, according to Gov. Mike DeWine (R).

Many law-enforcement organizations in the Buckeye State have wanted to equip their officers with video recorders but costs have reportedly proved prohibitive for many localities. This led DeWine to launch the Ohio Body-Worn Camera Grant Program which awarded its first $4.7 million in January. 

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Ohio Pro-Abortion Amendment Anticipated to Appear as Ballot Question

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio announced this week they are working to place a state constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the election ballot in Ohio. 

The prospective effort comes as abortion proponents’ confidence surges after Kansas voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have stipulated that the Kansas Constitution does not contain the right to terminate a pregnancy failed by a vote of 59 percent to 41 percent. 

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Senators Introduce Pennsylvania Data Privacy Measure

Two Pennsylvania legislators this week proposed a law to protect consumers’ data from merchants who collect such information.

Authored by Senators Maria Collett (D-North Wales) and Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem), the bill would ensure Pennsylvania consumers are informed about what personal information businesses collect. The policy would also require disclosure of any entities to whom the data is being sold and allow customers to decline to have any of their information trafficked or utilized for profit. Selling the data of consumers under the age of 16 would be prohibited outright.

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After Pennsylvania Court Ruling on Absentee Voting, Republicans Renew Call for Reform

This week’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Act 77 which legalized no-excuse absentee voting in the Keystone State is spurring Republican lawmakers to renew their push for election reform. 

A Republican-led legislature passed and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 77 three years ago. Moderate Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem) initially drafted the bill to get rid of straight-party voting, a policy on which Republican legislators largely agreed with her. More Democrats came around to support the measure once a section was added allowing voters to cast mail-in ballots without providing a reason they could not come to the polls (i.e., illness, injury or travel). 

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Mastriano Denounces Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Gender Policies

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) on Tuesday denounced guidelines the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has outlined for the treatment of controversial gender issues in public schools. 

The senator, who is running for governor against Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, particularly objected to recommendations that teachers consider utilizing nonconventional pronouns like “ne, ve, ze and xe” that some who claim to be neither male nor female have begun using to refer to themselves. Mastriano also criticized Governor Tom Wolf (D) and PDE for denying the link between biological sex and the gendered terms (i.e., male and female) that correspond to it. 

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Johnson Keeps Ohio Republican State Central Committee Seat; Reformers Win Victories Elsewhere

Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Treasurer Dave Johnson won his race for re-election on Tuesday to represent the Youngstown-area 33rd District in the GOP’s State Central Committee. However, conservatives and reformers won several ORP victories elsewhere. 

Johnson defeated challenger Rick Barron, who ran on implementing rigorous and regular audits of committee finances, something many in the party believe Johnson has neglected. Alleged financial irregularities, including $3 million said to have “gone missing” from party financial records, have led several ORP members to sue Johnson and state-party Chair Bob Paduchik.

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Pennsylvania Governor Promotes Abortion with Lawsuit and Executive Order

As the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly advances a constitutional amendment to preserve its ability to restrict abortion, Governor Tom Wolf (D) is suing to defeat that amendment and taking executive action in favor of the practice. 

Keystone State governors typically don’t play a role in the constitutional-amendment process. If both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate pass an amendment in two consecutive sessions, the commonwealth submits the measure as a ballot question for voters to accept or reject at the ballot box. If a majority agrees to it, the amendment becomes law, with or without gubernatorial blessing. 

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Third Parties Merge in Pennsylvania, with Candidacies Potentially Coming Soon

As three national political third parties proceed with a merger they announced last week, several independent state-legislative candidates are seeking approval to run under the Forward Party banner in Pennsylvania.

The expanding centrist political organization includes the Forward Party, founded by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang; the Renew America Movement, founded by several former Republican public officials; and the Serve American Movement (SAM), currently led by former Republican Florida Congressman David Jolly. Yang and former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman will co-chair the newly consolidated party. 

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Whaley Energy Plan for Ohio Excludes Fossil Fuels

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley this weekend took to Twitter to promote an energy plan for the Buckeye State that excludes fossil-fuel production in favor of renewables.

“Check out mine and [running mate Cheryl Stephens’s] energy plan…,” she wrote. “1. Reform the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) so consumer interests are at its core; 2. Spur innovation & create good-paying, union jobs in clean energy; 3. Build climate resilient communities.”

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Pennsylvania State-Related Universities Going Ahead with Tuition Hikes

Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities are moving ahead with tuition increases in spite of Republican lawmakers’ exhortations that they freeze their prices. 

Earlier this week, state Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) sent a letter to the administrators of Temple University, Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University to urge them not to further economically burden students or their families as inflation rages. Soon thereafter, GOP leaders of the state House of Representatives sent their own message to the four schools which operate independently but rely heavily on state funding.

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After Court Win, Ohio Republican PAC Backs State-Committee Slate in Tuesday’s Elections

Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Committeeman Dave Johnson dropped his lawsuit against the Ohio Republican PAC (Political Action Committee) on Thursday, giving the latter group a major win as they advocate for conservative Republican State Central Committee candidates across the Buckeye State.

Johnson, who represents the ORP’s 33rd district, is running for reelection to that seat against Rick Barron who has the Ohio Republican PAC’s endorsement. Johnson sued the PAC and its affiliates in Mahoning, Carroll and Columbiana counties for conducting what he called a “sham” operation designed to mislead voters into believing that Barron had the ORP’s support. The ORP itself has not issued endorsements for State Central Committee this year. 

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Veteran-Benefit Bill That Would’ve Facilitated Miscellaneous Spending Blocked; Pennsylvania Senator Toomey Urges Refocusing It

On Wednesday, a U.S. Senate vote to proceed with veteran-benefits legislation failed to receive the 60 votes needed for cloture, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and other fiscal conservatives noted the PACT Act would have permitted up to $400 billion to be spent on unrelated programs.

Earlier this week, Toomey urged Senate colleagues to accept his proposed amendment to keep the bill focused entirely on aiding those who served in the Armed Forces.

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Columbus City Council Tables Funding to Reinstall Christopher Columbus Statue

Columbus, OH City Council this week indefinitely tabled an ordinance to spend $253,000 on the possible reinstallation of the Christopher Columbus statue that stood outside of City Hall until the summer of 2020. 

If adopted, the policy would permit the municipal Department of Development to agree to a contract with Designing Local Ltd., a planning company, to initiate a series of public meetings about whether the statue would return.

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Mastriano to State-Related Universities: Ditch Tuition Hikes

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) this week wrote to Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities to urge them to abandon their planned tuition increases and freeze in-state tuition in light of skyrocketing inflation.

The senator noted that the Keystone State’s Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget allots $600 million in total to Lincoln University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University. Those institutions are also getting $40 million in new discretionary funding from Gov. Tom Wolf (D). With such generous state subsidies, Mastriano reasoned, partially public universities should make every effort to avoid putting new pressures on students and their families.

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Bill to Mandate Human Trafficking Awareness Training in Lodging Introduced in Pennsylvania

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-PA-Reading) announced on Monday she will introduce a bill mandating that Pennsylvania hotel and motel businesses train their workers in human-trafficking awareness. 

Human trafficking, an industry the International Labour Office believes to generate $150 billion each year, is a form of slavery whereby human beings are defrauded or coerced into servitude that is often sexual in nature. The U.S. Department of State estimates that about 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Of those, nearly a third are children or teenagers and roughly half are women. 

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Fetterman’s Anti-Fracking History a Vulnerability in Pennsylvania Senate Race

John Fetterman handily won campaigns for mayor of heavily Democratic Braddock, PA in the 2000s and 2010s and won two statewide Pennsylvania primaries, one for lieutenant governor in 2018 and another for U.S. senator this year. His history of opposing hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” to extract natural gas didn’t burden him in those races. 

But now the Democratic lieutenant governor faces a general election for U.S. Senate against Republican celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz. And although Fetterman now says he does not support prohibiting fracking, his past support for a fracking ban promises to complicate his appeal to working Keystone Staters on whose livelihoods fossil-fuel development depends. 

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Ohio Awards Grants to Toledo, Cortland to Combat Trafficking, Other Crimes

Governor Mike DeWine

Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced Friday that numerous local law-enforcement departments will receive a total of $3.5 million for anti-trafficking efforts and other anti-crime initiatives, with the cities of Toledo and Cortland receiving significant grants. 

The money comes in the fifth round of allocations from the Crime Reduction Grant Program, a project created last year that has disbursed $23 million to 83 agencies across the Buckeye State so far. 

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Pennsylvania Democrat Wants to Curtail Police’s Rights to Use Deadly Force

Pennsylvania state Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) this week proposed legislation to curtail police officers’ ability to use deadly force.

In a memorandum on his upcoming bill, he suggests that current state law empowers police to act as “judge, jury and executioner” of fleeing suspects.

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Grassroots Ohio GOP Group Responds to Committeeman and Treasurer Johnson’s Injunction Against Opponent

As he runs for reelection in the August 2 special primary, Ohio Republican Party (ORP) Committeeman David Johnson is suing Rick Barron who is challenging his bid to continue representing the ORP’s 33rd District (Columbiana, Carroll and Mahoning counties). 

Also in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, Johnson sued political action committees that support Barron, including the Mahoning, Carroll and Columbiana Ohio Republican Political Action Committees (PACs). These three grassroots organizations are affiliates of the Ohio Republican PAC which exists outside the ORP, also known as the Ohio Republican State Central Committee. 

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Proposal Would Bar Pennsylvania Counties That Ban Gas Drilling from Getting Gas Revenues

Pennsylvania state Sen. Gen Yaw (R-Williamsport) this week announced he is authoring a bill to bar any county that bans natural-gas development on county-owned lands from getting certain natural-gas revenues. 

Specifically, Yaw’s proposal would prevent those jurisdictions from receiving allocations from the commonwealth’s gas-drilling impact fee, including any grants from the Marcellus Legacy Fund that finances regional environmental improvement projects. Revenues collected from the levy on companies extracting gas from the sedimentary rock known as Marcellus Shale totaled $234.4 million last year. The fee has brought nearly $2.3 billion into the state Treasury over the last decade.

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Ohio GOP State Committeeman and Treasurer Johnson Denounced by Cousin in Re-Election Bid

Video footage of a rally in North Lima, Ohio, on Sunday shows Frederick “Sam” Johnson standing with Ohio Republican State Central Committee candidate Rick Barron and denouncing Barron’s opponent, Sam’s own cousin David Johnson.

David Johnson is the incumbent State Central Committeeman in the 33rd district (Columbiana and Mahoning counties) and also serves as Ohio Republican Party (ORP) treasurer. He and Barron will compete for the August 2 special primary committee seat. 

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New Report: Pennsylvania Suffers from ‘Myriad of Election Issues’

Pennsylvania House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) released a report Tuesday detailing “a myriad of election issues” in the Keystone State. 

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Building, Grove reviewed his findings, including inconsistent vote-counting rules, ballot harvesting, fraud and administrative errors. The new report is the third he has issued concerning election problems since November 2020. 

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Fetterman Condition Prompts Pennsylvania State Senators to Consider State Disability Procedures

Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee on Monday heard expert testimony on possible changes to the state’s rules for handling instances when the governor or lieutenant governor cannot perform his or her duties.

The issue has become especially salient ever since Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) suffered a stroke on May 13. He recovered but only gradually returned to his job and to his U.S. Senate campaign. He missed 18 session days as presiding officer of the Pennsylvania Senate, leaving him out of the conclusion of budget deliberations.

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Akron, Ohio Mayor Ends Downtown Curfew

Akron, OH Mayor Dan Horrigan (D) Sunday lifted the curfew he imposed on his city’s downtown area on the Fourth of July. 

The restriction applied between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and affected Akron residents encircled by Route 59, Interstate 76 and Route 8. The mayor gave his initial emergency order two Mondays ago after anti-police protests turned violent and severely damaged Main Street businesses. 

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Pennsylvania Toughens DUI Sentences

Pennsylvania state Reps. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) and Chris Quinn (R-Media) on Friday lauded area lawmakers and activists for their work toward enactment of “Deana’s Law” which toughens drunk-driving sentences.

The new act is named after Deana DeRosa Eckman, a 45-year-old Delaware County resident who died in a February 2019 car collision caused by six-time Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI) offender David Strowhouer in Upper Chichester Township. Strowhouer had a blood-alcohol content of 0.199, more than twice the level the commonwealth permits, and was driving 80 miles per hour before striking Eckman’s vehicle head-on. 

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Ohio Secretary of State Announces Board of Education Districts; Democrats Object

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced this week that the state Board of Education district boundaries will conform to the plan Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued in January, spurring objections from Democratic lawmakers.

Nineteen individuals sit on the state Board of Education, with 11 of them standing for election. Five of the elected seats are up in this fall’s general election and those wishing to run must file by August 10.

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Pennsylvania Department of State Sues Counties to Count Undated Ballots

Pennsylvania’s Department of State this week filed a lawsuit against three counties, all controlled by Republicans, to count undated absentee ballots.

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) wants Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties to follow the rest of the state in counting votes delivered in undated envelopes toward the official tallies for candidates nominated in May 17’s primaries. A Pennsylvania law requiring absentee and mail-in voters to date their ballot envelope has underwent significant court scrutiny over the last two years.

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Pennsylvania IFO Study: Labor Force Down by 120,000 Since Year Before COVID

A report released this week by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) indicates that 120,000 fewer residents are working or actively seeking work than in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The study showed the state’s labor force participate rate (LFPR) for those aged 16 and older to be 63 percent in May 2019 and to have declined to 61.9 percent one year later. That percentage has continued gradually decreasing — to 61.8 percent in May 2021 and to 61.7 percent two months ago.

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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Compromise Bill Banning Outside Election Funding

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) this week signed legislation banning nongovernmental entities from issuing grants for election administration and also creating a state-run grant program to meet such administrative needs.

State Senators Lisa Baker (R-Dallas) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-Jacobus) sponsored the measure in response to revelations that left-leaning nonprofits like the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) bestowed large sums of money on localities across the nation in 2020. (Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, contributed $350 million to the organization that year.) Most CTCL grants going to Pennsylvania counties subsidized election administration in Democrat-heavy areas.

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‘Personhood Act’ to Prohibit Abortion Introduced in Ohio

Ohio state Representative Gary Click (R-Vickery) this week introduced a bill to protect pre-born human life from abortion.

Titled “The Personhood Act,” Click’s legislation stipulates that the state “shall recognize the personhood, and protect the constitutional rights, of all unborn human individuals from the moment of conception.” The measure would not prohibit abortion in any case where doing so would “endanger the life of a mother.” 

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Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment Would Stipulate: No Right to Abortion

A state constitutional amendment that passed both houses of the state legislature last week stipulates that Pennsylvania recognizes neither a right to abortion nor to public funding of abortion.

The legislation stops short of a ban on either surgical or chemically induced abortions but ensures that lawmakers may enact restrictions uninhibited by courts.

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Ohio Democrats Seek Preservation of Records in Connection with FirstEnergy

Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) Chairwoman Elizabeth Walters last week filed a preliminary injunction seeking assurance that Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will preserve all records pertaining to House Bill 6 as an ODP lawsuit goes forward.

The legislation, which DeWine signed into law in July 2019, created a $1.3 billion bailout for the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear-power plants operated by FirstEnergy Corp. Federal prosecutors have alleged that GOP former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and numerous other individuals, including erstwhile Ohio Republican Party Chairman Matt Borges, participated in a $61 million bribery scheme to effect the subsidies.

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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Budget

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Friday signed Pennsylvania’s $45 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23.

The governor and Republican-controlled legislature were only able to agree to the fiscal blueprint a week after the June 30 deadline. Revenues covering budget items include $42.8 billion in state taxpayer dollars and $2 billion in federal money. 

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Akron Council Resists Prejudgement in Walker Shooting; Ohio House Democrats Still Blame Police

Akron, OH’s Democrat-controlled City Council issued a statement this week lamenting the death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker while resisting prejudgement of the police officers’ who shot him.

Some Ohio Democrats, like their party’s state House caucus, continue to react differently, deciding the shooting lacked justification even before an external investigation concludes. 

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Pennsylvania Legislature Sends Bill Banning Towns’ Anti-Natural Gas Measures to Governor

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week passed a bill barring municipalities from adopting measures that restrict the use of natural gas or other energy sources.

The House approved the legislation by a vote of 117 to 83, with the Republican majority almost entirely supportive. The bill originated in the state Senate, having passed that chamber last October by a vote of 35 to 15. It awaits Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature or veto.

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Pennsylvania Bill Would Raise Firearm Purchasing Age to 21

State Rep. Darisha Parker (D-PA-Philadelphia) this week began asking fellow lawmakers to cosponsor a bill to raise the minimum firearm purchase and possession age in Pennsylvania from 18 to 21. 

The freshman representative cited data from the San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence indicating that U.S. residents ages 18 to 20 account for 17 percent of confirmed murderers despite being only four percent of the population. She also noted that those ages 14 to 21 have the highest propensity toward suicide or attempted suicide among all Americans. 

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Akron Maintains Curfew in Wake of Walker Shooting

A curfew imposed in downtown Akron, OH on Monday, July 4, continues in the aftermath of the death of Jayland Walker by police gunfire.

The curfew applies during the hours between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. It resulted in the cancellation of fireworks to celebrate July Fourth at several sites in the city. Municipal officials noted that although protests in response to the shooting were peaceful early on Monday, evening demonstrations turned violent and resulted in serious damage to businesses on Main Street.

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Democratic Officials Want Philadelphia Mayor Kenney to Resign

Jim Kenney wishes he wasn’t Philadelphia’s mayor. City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Councilman Derek Green — like Kenny, both Democrats — now wish the same.

Kenney drew their reproaches after confessing to reporters on Monday, July 4, that city violence has made his job a displeasure that he looks forward to concluding.

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Pro-Abortion Legislation Introduced in Pennsylvania House

Democrats in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives recently proposed two bills to guarantee abortion rights in the Keystone State in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturning. 

The first measure, sponsored by Reps. Danielle Friel Otten (D-Exton) and Liz Hanbidge (D-Blue Bell) is an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution guaranteeing the right to obtain an abortion, acquire contraceptives or refuse fertility care. 

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Ohio Governor Postpones Two Executions, Citing Problems with Pharmaceutical Suppliers

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) issued reprieves of execution on Friday to Antonio Sanchez Franklin and Stanley Fitzpatrick, citing “ongoing problems” with obtaining needed substances from pharmaceutical companies.

The now-43-year-old Franklin was scheduled to receive a lethal injection next January 12; his execution is now scheduled to take place next February 11. The convict murdered his grandparents, 71-year-old Ophelia and 76-year-old Ivory as well as his 38-year-old uncle Anthony in Dayton in 1997 and then set their house on fire when Antonio was 18.

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Pennsylvania Heads into New Fiscal Year Without a Budget

As July begins, Pennsylvania enters into Fiscal Year 2022-23 without an FY 22-23 budget.

Republicans who control the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf have yet to agree on all facets of the spending plan. Altogether, the governor has proposed allotting $43.7 billion in taxpayer money in the next budget cycle, a figure that Republicans have said is too high.

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Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Rules Against Tolling Plan

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Thursday ruled to stop a tolling plan that would have affected nine bridges throughout the state.

In November 2020, the state Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) Public-Private Transportation Partnership Board voted to open the door to tolling bridges on Interstate 78, Interstate 79, Interstate 80, Interstate 81, and Interstate 83 to fund their repair or replacement. Cumberland County, Bridgeville Borough, South Fayette Township and Collier Township eventually sued Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration to prevent the state from establishing the collection booths.

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Cincinnati-Area School District Sued for Dropping Racialist Instruction

Parents in the Forest Hills Local School District filed a lawsuit this week in response to school directors’ move on June 22 to ban the use of critical race theory and other identity-based teachings from curricula and hiring decisions.

In what school leaders titled a “Resolution to Create a Culture of Kindness and Equal Opportunity for All Students and Staff,” the majority of the School Board enacted a policy against the use of ethic, socioeconomic, gender or cultural identity in hiring or academic administration. The new rule also forbids requiring a student to take on assignments that prompt consideration of that child’s social or cultural identities as a “deficiency or a label to stereotype the student as having certain biases, prejudices or other
unsavory moral characteristics….”

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Wolf to Veto Pennsylvania Poll Watcher Legislation

A Pennsylvania Senate bill to allow a voter to act as a poll watcher outside of his or her own county passed the state House of Representatives this week, though Gov. Tom Wolf (D) said he will veto it.

Sponsored by Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg), the “Poll Watcher Empowerment Act” received the support of every Republican and no Democratic representative. When it passed the Senate earlier this month, every Republican voted for it and every Democrat voted against it except for Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem).

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