Pennsylvania Perspective for Monday, January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Pennsylvania

State Broadband Authority Changes Stance on State Law as New Federal Funding Set to Arrive

The Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority has changed its stance on whether to waive a state statute restricting local governments from building their own internet networks in the latest draft of the state’s plan for $1 billion in federal broadband funding aimed at enhancing high-speed internet access. Spotlight PA has more.

Pennsylvania Significantly Broadens Tax Credits for Child, Dependent Care

Pennsylvania parents will benefit from an increased Child and Dependent Care Enhancement Tax Credit, signed into law by Governor Josh Shapiro in December, allowing for a maximum credit of $2,100 for families with two or more children, up from the previous $630. WVIA has more.

The Future of Reproductive Rights in Pennsylvania

State Representatives Liz Hanbidge (D-Montgomery) and Danielle Friel Otten (D-Chester) are pushing for a constitutional amendment that would establish a “fundamental right to personal reproductive liberty” in Pennsylvania, seeking to enshrine reproductive rights beyond the reach of legislative changes. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

State House Committee Advances Several Gun Control Bills; Federal Court Ruling Limits State Laws

Last week the state House Judiciary Committee approved five firearm bills along party lines for the first time since Democrats won control of the state House in 2022. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court recently ruled that Pennsylvania laws barring 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying firearms in public during a state of emergency are unconstitutional.

State House Committee Advances Student Mental Health Bill

The Democrat-led Pennsylvania House Education Committee voted along party lines to advance a bill allowing students to take up to three mental health days off during the school year without requiring a doctor’s note, addressing concerns related to the student mental health crisis and truancy issues. PennLive has more.

Pennsylvania Casinos Experienced 9% Revenue Increase in 2023 Driven By Online, Sports Betting

Gaming revenue in Pennsylvania casinos increased by 9% in calendar year 2023, reaching over $5.6 billion, with interactive wagering online and through phone apps experiencing the largest surge at 29%. Three of the top five casinos contributing to the revenue are located in the greater Philadelphia region. The Philadelphia Business Journal has more.

Who’s Running in Statewide Races in 2024

This year, Pennsylvanians will be voting for a new attorney general, state treasurer, and auditor general, with the primary election set for April 23. Billy Penn has more.

Allegheny County State Senators Announce Re-Election Bids

Senate Leader Jay Costa Jr. (D-Allegheny) and state Senator Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny) have each announced re-election bids, with the latter also announcing an endorsement by the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, an umbrella labor group that includes 33 locals.

East Palestine Community Remains Skeptical of Water, Air, Soil Safety One Year After Toxic Train Derailment

Nearly a year following a Norfolk Southern train derailment and the spillage of hazardous materials in East Palestine, some residents and critics remain unconvinced by federal regulators’ assurances that the water, air, and soil are safe for the community. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

 

Philadelphia

PHS Prepares for 195th Philadelphia Flower Show

Preparations are underway for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) 195th Philadelphia Flower Show, which will run at the Pennsylvania Convention Center March 2-10. The theme, “United by Flowers,” will be reflected in neighborhood-inspired exhibits, special programming, and more. KYW Newsradio has more.

Deputy Commissioner Rosario Emphasizes Need for Collaborative Problem Solving in Kensington

Since his appointment earlier this month, Deputy Commissioner Pedro Rosario has emphasized the need for a collaborative approach to the City’s Kensington strategy, which should involve social services and amplification of relationships with other city departments to improve the community’s overall quality of life. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Advocates Call on Parker Administration, City Council to Amend Rules at City-Run Sanitation Convenience Centers

Members of advocacy group Trash Academy are urging Mayor Cherelle Parker and City Council to modify rules at city-run sanitation centers to allow them to accept waste from small commercial haulers for an affordable fee, aiming to reduce illegal dumping and address debris disposal challenges faced by independent haulers. WHYY has more.

Pew Grants $1 Million to Philadelphia Nonprofits to Tackle Opioid Behavioral Health Challenges

The Pew Charitable Trusts announced $1 million in grants to Philadelphia nonprofit organizations to address substance use disorders, gun violence, homelessness, and disinvestment in Kensington and support for foster families in addressing the behavioral health needs of children in their care.

 

Pittsburgh

County Executive Innamorato Nominates New Citizen Members for Jail Oversight Board

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato has nominated attorneys Barbara Griffin and Rob Perkins and activist Muhammad Ali Nasir for the nine-member County Jail Oversight Board. WESA has more.

PUC Approves Settlement Over PWSA Rate Changes, Low-Income Assistance

Last week, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) granted approval to a joint settlement made in October between the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and its customers, addressing proposed rate hikes over a three-year span. WESA has more.

PennDOT Allocating Extra Funding to Accelerate 3 Pittsburgh Bridge Repair Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is allocating $132 million, a mix of state and federal funds — including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding — to expedite the repair of the Fort Duquesne Bridge, West End Bridge, and McKees Rocks Bridges. WESA has more.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Post-Pandemic Ridership Plateauing

Efforts by Pittsburgh Regional Transit to restore ridership post-pandemic are plateauing, with the agency still falling behind similar counterparts nationwide in crucial aspects like cost and on-time performance. The Pittsburgh Union Progress has more.

 

Federal

Senators Casey, Fetterman Introduce College Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Last week, U.S. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman helped introduce the Protecting Students on Campus Act in a bipartisan bid to help college students across the country address discrimination based on their race, color, or national origin. WESA has more.

Republican John Henry Newman Enters PA-10 Congressional Race

Republican John Henry Newman has announced his candidacy for the 10th Congressional District, the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Representative Scott Perry. PennLive has more.

Beltway Briefing: The Economic Psyche of 2024 Voters

As GOP candidates gear up for the New Hampshire Caucus, the shadow of Donald Trump looms large against his GOP challengers, Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, who fail to effectively criticize the former president and appeal to his unwavering MAGA base. Come November, the 2024 presidential outcome will ultimately be shaped by the economic psyche of voters. Listen to the latest episode featuring Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin here.

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