Pennsylvania Perspective for Monday, January 30, 2023

January 30, 2023


Senatorial District 27 Special Election Tomorrow

Late last year, state Senator John Gordner unexpectedly resigned his seat in order to accept a position as counsel to fellow Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward. This Tuesday, Pennsylvanians in Senatorial District 27 will be headed back to the polls for a special election to determine who will replace him — Republican and current House District 108 Representative Lynda Schlegel Culver or Democratic speech pathologist Patricia Lawton. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Pennsylvania Part of National Trend in Election Denying-Legislators Assuming Election Oversight Roles

Since their rise of election denial across the country in 2020, Republicans who espouse false election conspiracy theories have begun taking on increasingly more powerful roles in all levels of government. Election-denying Republican Senator Cris Dush of central Pennsylvania was recently appointed chair of the Senate State Government Committee by President Pro Tempore Kim Ward. The Senator has used his position to help further propose constitutional amendments expanding voter identification laws and implementing post-election audits. The Associated Press has more.



Hundreds Attended FDR Park Community Meeting to Voice Concerns With Planned Renovation

On Thursday, a community meeting held by the Department of Parks and Recreation and state legislators at the Grand Yesha Ballroom in South Philadelphia was partially derailed by protesters voicing discontent with the city’s planned renovations to FDR Park. The chaos of the evening made it difficult for officials to field and answer community questions and dispel myths about the project as planned. Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell has held firm that the plans are unlikely to change in any substantial way. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Tower Health Hires Investment Bank Amid Ongoing Financial Hardship

Earlier today, Tower Health announced that it has hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey to assist with its ongoing financial struggles. The West Reading-based nonprofit health system has exceptionally low levels of cash for a provider of its size. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

City Expands Its Right to Counsel Initiative to Combat Eviction

The city is expanding its Right to Counsel initiative into certain zip codes in Port Richmond, Kensington, Germantown, East Falls, and Mt. Airy beginning Wednesday. The initiative, originally launched as a pilot a year ago, provides free legal representation to low-income Philadelphia renters who are at risk of facing eviction. WHYY has more.

Please Touch Museum Workers File NLRB Paperwork Seeking to Unionize

Last week, workers at the Please Touch Museum filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to unionize. If successful, Please Touch Museum workers will be organized under the same local union as workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Unionization efforts at the Museum have been underway for several months. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Race for At-Large Allegheny County Council Seat Turning Ugly

The race for Allegheny County Council is heating up, with current At-Large Council Member Bethany Hallam and challenger Joanna Doven exchanging personal jabs on Twitter while promising Pittsburgh voters different progressive policies. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Mayor Gainey Signs Executive Order to Audit Tax-Exempt Status of Pittsburgh Properties

Last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey signed an executive order directing the city’s finance and law departments to begin an audit of the tax-exempt status of properties owned by nonprofit organizations throughout the city. The process, which is expected to take years, is intended to ensure that organizations that ought to be paying property taxes do, and vice versa. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more.



Freshman U.S. Senator Fetterman Receives Committee Assignments

Democratic U.S. Senator John Fetterman received his committee assignments last week, which will likely determine which policy areas he will be focused on during his term. The freshman Senator will be working on the Committees on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and Environment & Public Works. He is also expected to join the Joint Economic Committee and the Special Committee on Aging, the latter of which is chaired by fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, Senator Bob Casey. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Beltway Briefing: Divided Government Returns

Public Strategies’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Rodney Davis, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin break down the first three weeks of the Rules Committee work. And, now that a split Congress is upon us again, with Republicans looking to deploy their power with a fragile majority in the House and Democrats looking to advance their own policy priorities in the Senate, they discuss the status of inter-party negotiations over several must-pass bills and ponder how the new era of divided government translates into the 2024 presidential politics. Listen to the latest episode here.


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