Democratic Judge Questions Differing Ballot-Curing Rules Across Pennsylvania

As political-party attorneys and the state of Pennsylvania argued over “curing” election ballots on Thursday, the Democratic judge hearing the case suggested that differing county rules could undermine confidence in election integrity.

Judge Ellen Ceisler, one of two Democrats on the seven-member Commonwealth Court, conducted the hearing in which Republican Party lawyers pressed their case against Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D). Per litigation filed three weeks ago, the plaintiffs contended that the court should not permit the secretary to let counties notify absentee or mail-in voters that their ballots contain mistakes that can supposedly be corrected or “cured.” 

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Pro-Lifers Pleased with Enthusiasm at Second Annual Pennsylvania March for Life

Pennsylvanians who support legal protections for innocent life including the unborn resoundingly celebrated the enthused showing at Monday’s Pennsylvania March for Life in Harrisburg, the Keystone State’s second such annual event.

Thousands of residents marched to the Capitol Building in support of legislation to prevent abortion, an issue that has seen a resurgence of interest since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide was nullified earlier this year. Pro-abortion activists held their own rally for Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s gubernatorial candidacy the day afterward, drawing few attendees.

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Pennsylvania House Committee to Investigate ‘Ghost Flights’

A Pennsylvania House committee announced this week it will investigate cases of “ghost flights” of illegal immigrants, possibly including children, that reportedly landed in the Keystone State.

The state House Government Oversight Committee accepted a referral from House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Quarryville) and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) which voiced concern about media accounts of nighttime air delivery of persons who unlawfully entered the United States. Cutler and Benninghoff observed that whistleblowers have suggested these flights into the commonwealth’s northeastern region, allegedly chartered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contain minors as well as adults. The individuals were reported to have been driven out of state after arriving.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Won’t Fast-Track Hearing for Proposed Abortion Amendment

Pro-lifers and scored a momentary win this week as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided against bypassing the Commonwealth Court and hearing a case against a proposed constitutional amendment. 

The Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia were among organizations that filed amicus briefs with the majority-Democrat Supreme Court urging it to make Governor Tom Wolf (D) first take his case to the Republican-controlled lower court. In that forum, judges will rule on the validity of a proposed amendment stating that the commonwealth does not confer a constitutional right to abortion.

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Bill Proposed to Compensate the Wrongfully Convicted in Pennsylvania

Two Pennsylvania state legislators on Friday proposed a law to facilitate compensation for those who the commonwealth imprisons based on wrongful convictions. 

Representatives Frank Ryan (R-Palmyra) and Regina Young (D-Philadelphia) plan to introduce the legislation to bring Keystone State policy into line with 38 other states that indemnify exonerated people. 

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School Choice Advocates Remind Philadelphia Parents of Options as District Workers Prepare to Strike

As unionized public-school staffers protest the School District of Philadelphia’s failure to assent to the union’s salary and training terms, threatening to strike at the beginning of the school year, school-choice advocates are reminding parents of alternatives.

Bus drivers, custodians, maintenance staff and other workers represented by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ have authorized a strike that could compromise the resumption of schooling that is scheduled for next Monday. Pro-strike workers insist they are underpaid, noting that cleaners make roughly $16,000 per year at the low end. At the high end, construction inspectors make approximately $70,000.

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Report: Pennsylvania Job Openings Continue to Fall

A report released Monday by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) shows that new Keystone-State employment opportunities fell in June, marking a three-month overall decline.

Examining numbers from the federal Department of Labor, the IFO found that around 393,000 new jobs opened in June. Although that number exceeds the 281,000-per-month average for job openings that preceded COVID-19 in 2020, it continues a downward slope that began after new employment offerings reached 514,000 in March.

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DeSantis: Electing Mastriano an ‘Opportunity to Make Pennsylvania Free’

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) came to Pittsburgh this weekend to argue that his success governing Florida needs to be replicated in Pennsylvania and that state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-PA-Gettysburg) is the man to do it. 

The Adams County lawmaker is running against Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, someone who Mastriano and DeSantis believe will intensify the liberal governance the Keystone State has underwent during Tom Wolf’s eight-year administration. 

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Pennsylvania Legislator Proposes Abortion Insurance Mandate and Training Program

Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D-PA-Philadelphia) proposed two bills to promote abortion in the Keystone state: an abortion training program and a bill to require insurers to cover abortion without cost sharing. 

In a memorandum seeking cosponsors for her training measure, the democratic socialist representative from south Philadelphia indicated the legislation would bestow funding on the state Department of Health to provide medical professionals with up-to-date abortion instruction.

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State Representative Pushes to Constitutionally Eliminate Pennsylvania School Property Taxes

State Representative Frank Ryan (R-PA-Palmyra) this week proposed amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to eliminate the portion of property taxes collected by localities to fund public schools.

In February, Ryan sponsored another bill to abolish school property taxes by statute; that measure has yet to receive a vote in the House of Representatives Finance Committee. While enacting a statute requires majority assent of the House and Senate and the signature of the governor, amending the state Constitution requires House and Senate approval in two consecutive sessions. The policy would then go before Pennsylvania voters as a ballot question for approval or rejection and the governor would play no role in that process.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Pennsylvania GOP Sues Commonwealth over Mail-in Voting Law, Calling It Invalid

Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers are suing the commonwealth over its 2019 law expanding mail-in voting, arguing it’s invalid after a recent court ruling.

On Wednesday, 14 state Republicans filed a lawsuit against acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman, a Democrat, to throw out the mail-in law.

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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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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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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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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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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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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 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 Poised to Join EMS Grouping, Lessening Barriers for Workers

Pending the signature of Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania will be the 22nd state to join an EMS compact making it easier for emergency workers to practice across state lines.

The agreement standardizes privilege to practice rules, validates licenses in a national registry, and grants emergency medical workers the ability to work across state lines on a short-term basis. By aligning rules and standards, Pennsylvania poses fewer barriers to out-of-state workers who may relocate to the commonwealth.

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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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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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Mastriano Proposes Allowing Permitted Teachers to Be Armed at Pennsylvania Schools

State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) asked colleagues Tuesday to co-sponsor a bill he plans to introduce to let teachers carry guns in Pennsylvania schools. 

Under the proposal, teachers who hold concealed carry permits may be armed on school property provided they complete “a rigorous firearms course from a certified instructor.” Similar measures are now in effect in 28 states.

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Pennsylvania House Committee Advances Liquor Privatization

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives Liquor Control Committee this week passed legislation to privatize liquor sales.

While the Republican-run General Assembly passed and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a 2016 measure allowing grocery stores to sell wine and liberalizing some other alcoholic-beverage regulations, the Keystone State remains among the most tightly controlled in terms of liquor distribution. The commonwealth owns 600 “Fine Wine & Good Spirits” stores which have sole permission to sell both wine and hard liquor; only Utah’s system is equally monopolistic.

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Mastriano Bill to Allow Out-of-County Poll Watchers in Pennsylvania Passes Senate

Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed legislation this week that would permit a Pennsylvania voter to serve as a poll watcher in an election precinct outside of his or her county.

Current law lets candidates and parties appoint poll watchers — volunteers who are often party committee members — to election precincts only in those watchers’ respective counties. State guidance allows these appointees to “make good-faith challenges” to an elector’s residence, identity or voting eligibility.

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Survey Suggests Pennsylvanians Back Free-Market Reforms, Believe State Economy Needs Improvement

A new survey released Thursday by the Commonwealth Foundation (CF), a Harrisburg-based think tank, suggests Pennsylvanians broadly support free-market reforms the institute urges policymakers to embrace. 

CF publicized its Better Pennsylvania 2023 Plan, a list of 23 such recommendations, in conjunction with the poll. Executive vice president Jennifer Stefano said the foundation plans to distribute the agenda to state lawmakers and candidates for public office. She believes the ideas’ implementation will “restore hope to our citizens across the commonwealth and set us on a better path that allows all Pennsylvanians to flourish.”

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Pennsylvania Governor Reviewing Judge’s Injunction Against Interstate Tolling Plans; Republicans Laud the Decision

Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) announced this week that his administration is reviewing the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s order halting a plan to toll as many as nine of Pennsylvania’s bridges on Interstate-78, Interstate-79, Interstate-80, Interstate-81 and Interstate-83.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) board voted in November 2020 to toll bridges it hoped to repair or replace, though it was not decided whether that would apply to all nine bridges. 

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Grove Proposes Bill to Address Future Pennsylvania Election Complaints

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) told legislative colleagues on Monday that he will introduce a measure to ease the process by which Pennsylvanians can report voter fraud and other election-related problems. 

The bill would require the Pennsylvania secretary of state to establish a 1-800 hotline that voters could call to note any alleged misconduct they encounter in the course of an election. The secretary would also need to host annual training sessions for county-level prosecutors on the commonwealth’s election rules. 

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Rep. Grove Rebukes Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s ‘Voter Intimidation’ Claims

Pennsylvania Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) castigated the state’s Democratic acting secretary of the commonwealth on Saturday for suggesting that stationing Lehigh County detectives at ballot drop boxes will amount to “voter intimidation.”

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman last week said that tactics to intimidate voters have “a long history in this country” and that “the mere presence of police at a ballot drop box can deter voters from casting their ballot.” She also mentioned that she has been in conversation with her staff about attempting to dissuade Lehigh County from assigning law-enforcement professionals to watch drop boxes into which absentee voters may place their ballots.

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Pennsylvania Governor Touts State’s Revenue Intake, Republicans Urge Caution

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), amidst his push for a larger state budget, is welcoming reports of high revenue intake, but Republicans are urging caution in response to the new economic downturn.

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue indicate the commonwealth’s General Fund took in $6.5 billion in April, an amount exceeding the department’s prediction by 38.7 percent. It is the largest sum of taxpayer dollars that the state has collected in one month. In Fiscal Year 2021-22 so far, the General Fund has received $40.7 billion, or 12.4 percent more than forecasted.

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Longtime Conservative Campaign Strategist Gerow Persists in Bid for Pennsylvania Governorship

Charlie Gerow has worked with Republican public officials for over four decades. He hasn’t been among them, though he contends that augurs well for how he would perform if elected governor. 

“I’m an outsider who knows what’s going on inside,” he told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. “And that’s what voters are looking for — somebody who’s not an officeholder, who’s not part of what’s going on right now but who knows what needs to be done and knows how to do it.”

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Pennsylvania Education Secretary Steps Down

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced on Friday that his Secretary of Education Noe Ortega is stepping down and that Wolf’s Deputy Chief of Staff Eric Hagarty will replace him.

The administration said Ortega will be presently dedicating his free time to his family and mulling potential next career steps. 

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Wants Education Department to Explain ‘Gender Unicorn’ Material

A Republican lawmaker is pressing the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to explain the use of material featuring characters called “Genderbread Person” and “the Gender Unicorn.” 

A week ago, State Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Ellwood City) sent a letter to Pennsylvania Secretary of Education (PDE) Noe Ortega asking about a diagram apparently distributed by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that depicts the two figures.

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O’Neal Proposes Tax Credit to Offset RGGI Compliance Costs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state Rep. Timothy O’Neal (R-Washington) has indicated he’s drafting legislation to bestow tax credits on power plants to cover costs of complying with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Pennsylvania is among eleven northeastern and mid-Atlantic states to have joined RGGI, a compact to levy de facto taxes on electricity-generation facilities for emitting greenhouse gases — chiefly carbon dioxide and methane — which are associated with global warming. Because Keystone State legislators have balked at the program, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced in 2019 that he would enter the state into it using his own regulatory authority. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Commonwealth Court blocked the state’s entry into RGGI, insisting that Wolf breached the limits on his executive power, but the ruling is not ironclad as the Democrat-run state Supreme Court could reverse it.

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Arizona Attorney General’s Report Recommends Election Reforms Similar to Those Sought in Pennsylvania

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) released a report this week on elections in his state—focusing especially on Maricopa County—advocating similar election reforms to those Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers currently seek.

While the report did not make criminal allegations regarding recent elections, it did declare that Arizona’s election system suffers from major procedural vulnerabilities including insufficient time to confirm signatures on ballots submitted during early voting and problems with the chain of custody for ballots placed in drop boxes. Altogether, the attorney general estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 early ballots were transported without proper protocol being followed.

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Commonwealth Court Blocks Pennsylvania’s Entry into Carbon Taxation Initiative

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court this week blocked the state’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an 11-state compact requiring de facto taxation of power plants’ carbon emissions.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) tried to effect Pennsylvania’s participation in the initiative by issuing an executive order in 2019, thus neglecting to seek approval of the Republican-led General Assembly. The court’s new opinion comes one day after the state Senate failed to override the governor’s veto of legislation letting the General Assembly end the state’s membership in the compact. Legislative leaders have argued that the governor’s unilateral action violated the state Constitution and were heartened upon hearing of the judges’ decision.

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Pennsylvania Senate Falls Short of Two-Thirds Needed to Kill Greenhouse Gas Initiative

White smoke emitting from a couple of buildings

Most state senators voted to end Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on Monday but fell short of the two-thirds needed to succeed.

In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) initiated Pennsylvania’s entry into the 11-state compact to reduce carbon emissions by charging power plants for their discharge in hope of counteracting global warming. Unlike most of the other northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that participate in RGGI, the Keystone State’s governor could not get sufficient backing from state legislators for Pennsylvania’s membership and thus acted via executive order. Republicans and some Democrats have argued Wolf exceeded his constitutional authority in rebuffing the legislature.

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State Senator Yaw Proposes Legal Framework for Carbon Capture in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Williamsport) indicated Wednesday he will soon introduce legislation to create a regulatory framework for “carbon capture” in the commonwealth.

Carbon capture is the process of catching carbon-dioxide discharge from fossil-fuel-fired power plants and manufacturing facilities for either reuse or storage so that the emissions don’t make it into the atmosphere and exacerbate global warming.

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