Pennsylvania State Representative Proposes Bill to Lighten Businesses’ Unemployment Obligations

State Representative Tim Twardzik (R-PA-Frackville) this week proposed legislation to lighten the burden of unemployment compensation (UC) on businesses that have seen major rate increases since COVID-19 hit in 2020. 

Twardzik indicated his bill will be similar to legislation that state Senator David Argall (R-PA-Mahanoy City) has introduced in his chamber. 

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Pennsylvania Business Leaders Alert Lawmakers to Prosperity Hindrances

Pennsylvania’s House Republican Policy Committee on Thursday heard testimony from several small-business executives Thursday suggesting that unemployment compensation (UC) taxes among other issues pose major impediments to economic growth in the Keystone State. 

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported this week, Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in terms of making up economic ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2022, about 6.17 million Pennsylvanians held jobs, a 2.8-percent rise over the same month one year prior. National employment meanwhile increased 3.7 percent during that time. 

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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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Pennsylvania Senate Panel Votes to Implement Changes to Improve Voter Records

Ryan Aument

A committee of the GOP-run Pennsylvania Senate voted Wednesday to change the state’s voter-records system as recommended by a Democratic former state auditor general.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lititz), passed the State Government Committee seven to four, with all Republicans and no Democrats backing the measure.

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Senator Proposes Changes to Pennsylvania’s Redistricting Commission

Senator David G. Argall

State Sen. David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) last week proposed two constitutional amendments that would affect state-legislative redistricting in Pennsylvania. 

The first reform the senator wants to make would change the process for choosing the chair of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), which oversees remapping of the General Assembly’s districts every 10 years. Current law directs the state Supreme Court to pick a chairperson, effectively deciding which party controls the five-member commission on which the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state House and state Senate sit.

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Ruling Prompts Pennsylvania Senate Legislation to Limit Court’s Redistricting Power

Senator David G. Argall

One day after Wednesday’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision imposing a Democrat-favored congressional map, state Senator David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) is legislating to limit similar future rulings.

Argall, who chairs the Senate State Government Committee, has asked colleagues to cosponsor a measure disallowing any congressional-district plan ordered by a court to remain in effect after the election cycle for which it was enacted.

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New Congressional Map Passes Pennsylvania Senate; Wolf’s Veto Anticipated

A proposed congressional map passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives earlier this month passed the state Senate unchanged on Monday, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

In urging colleagues to approve the redistricting plan, Senate State Government Committee Majority Chairman David Argall (R-Mahanoy City) emphasized that the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has insisted on enactment of a new map by January 30. The court has indicated it will select a map if Gov. Tom Wolf (D) does not sign one by that date. 

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Pennsylvania Legislature Must Pass, and Governor Must Sign, Congressional Map Monday to Meet Department’s Deadline

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led state Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) must approve a congressional map Monday in order to meet a deadline set by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Last summer, then-Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenried (D) announced that her department wanted new congressional districts enacted before January 24 so election officials and candidates may adequately prepare for the May 17, 2022 primaries. Lawmakers redesign districts every decade according to population changes reflected in U.S. Census data, whose release last year stalled several months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Population trends dictate that the Keystone State will lose one congressional district out of its present eighteen. 

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Pennsylvania Senate Committee Chair Warns of ‘Difficult Road’ for Bipartisan Election Reforms Because of Wolf Administration

Pennsylvania acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid did not testify in person at Tuesday’s Senate State Government Committee hearing on bipartisan election reforms, accentuating a rift between committee Republicans and Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration.

The legislation the committee is considering is bipartisan and doesn’t include voter-ID provisions or similarly controversial items. Committee Chairman David Argall (R-Pottsville) however lamented that Wolf has suggested he may veto the bill. 

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Pennsylvania County Commissioners’ Group Opposes Live-Streaming of Mail-In Vote Counting

Bipartisan enthusiasm for election-reform legislation appeared solid at a Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee hearing on Thursday, save for one part: video live-streaming of mail-in-ballot counting.

Elements of the bill, sponsored by Sen. David Argall (R-PA-Pottsville) and Sen. Sharif Street (D-PA-Philadelphia), have arisen largely from recommendations in a June 2021 report by the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform. Argall and Street’s proposal excludes some of the ad hoc panel’s more contentious ideas, particularly enhanced voter-identification rules, which Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) is spearheading in separate legislation. (While Gov. Tom Wolf [D] vetoed Grove’s bill in June, the representative has reintroduced it in light of the governor’s subsequent remarks in favor of a strengthened voter-ID requirement.)

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