Pennsylvania Perspective for Monday, July 31, 2023

July 31, 2023

Pennsylvania

Senate Pro Tempore Ward Releases Statement With Update on FY24 Budget Progress

On Friday, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) released a statement signaling that the chamber’s Republican Caucus is currently in negotiations with Governor Josh Shapiro’s administration, and that the Senate will be reconvening in August to once and for all finalize the FY24 budget. A resolution to the budget impasse would be most welcome, as deadlines to pay many of the state’s education and human services bills are rapidly approaching. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

How Counties Across the State Have Spent Act 88 Funding

Last year, state legislators created a new Election Integrity Grant Program through Act 88, which allocated $45 million to counties to alleviate the cost burden of running elections. Spotlight PA has delved deeper into how counties that applied chose to spend the money, which has so far included staffing increases, transportation and storage of voting equipment, and ballot printing, among other priorities. Spotlight PA has more.

Recent Study Makes Compelling Case for Converting State, Local Fleets to Electric Vehicles

A study recently released by PennEnvironment shows that replacing retiring local and state government fleet vehicles in Pennsylvania to electric models could result in savings of up to $360 million over the next decade. WESA has more.

Harm Reduction Advocates Seek to Change State Paraphernalia Law

Workers and volunteers in the harm reduction arena are advocating for a change to Pennsylvania state law that would allow for a comprehensive syringe services program (SSP), a federally recommended best practice for curbing opioid-related deaths. Currently, Pennsylvania cannot legally operate such a program due to the state paraphernalia law. WESA has more.

State Government Employees May See Significant Pay Raise Over the Coming Years

The Shapiro administration has reached a tentative agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 13 to increase state government employees’ pay 20.25% over the next four years. PennLive has more.

What is State Senator Mastriano Campaigning for?

Despite weeks of drumming up anticipation for a potential campaign announcement, state Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) — who unsuccessfully ran for Governor in 2022 — announced in May that he would not be running for U.S. Senate in 2024 as widely speculated. However, his many public appearances and speeches in the meantime beg the question: what is Senator Mastriano campaigning for? The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

 

Philadelphia

Democratic Mayoral Nominee Parker to Begin Campaigning Again Soon

While former City Councilmember and State Representative Cherelle Parker is all but guaranteed to win the general election for mayor in November, her team has assured voters that she does not take it for granted and will begin campaigning in earnest again after Labor Day. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Safehouse, DOJ Likely Headed Back to Court Over Supervised Injection Site Lawsuit

Settlement negotiations between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Safehouse, a local nonprofit seeking to open a supervised injection site in Philadelphia, have reportedly failed, likely landing both parties back in court. Since Safehouse initially filed its lawsuit in 2022 — which the DOJ has filed to dismiss — legislators at the city and state levels have attempted to ban the practice. WHYY has more.

Project HOME Co-Founders to Step Down

Project HOME co-founders Sister Mary Scullion and Joan McConnon have both announced their retirements after more than three decades of tackling homelessness in Philadelphia head-on by offering a range of outreach, supportive housing, and economic development services. WHYY has more.

 

Pittsburgh

Lindsay Powell Selected as Democratic Nominee for State House District 21

Over the weekend, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee selected Lindsay Powell as its nominee to fill the seat of former state Representative Sara Innamorato, who recently stepped down to focus on her race for County Executive. If elected, Powell would be the first Black woman to represent House District 21. WESA has more.

 

Federal

Former President Trump Rants About Indictments, Philadelphia, Republican Competitors at Weekend Erie Rally

Over the weekend, former President Donald Trump hosted a rally in Erie County, where he shrugged off his criminal indictments as personal attacks, ridiculed his Republican presidential competition — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in particular — called out Philadelphia’s Democratic leaders for its ongoing gun violence crisis. A recent New York Times/Siena poll shows the former president with a sizable lead over other Republicans in the field. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Senator Casey Seeks Improved Nursing Home Oversight, Increased Transparency

U.S. Senator Bob Casey, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging, is calling for better oversight of nursing homes and increased transparency and monitoring of state survey agencies from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The Williamsport Sun Gazette has more.

Senator Fetterman Discusses Congressional Dysfunction, Health With the New York Times

U.S. Senator John Fetterman recently spoke with reporters from the New York Times about what he sees as the ongoing dysfunction in Congress and his health challenges — including recovery from a stroke and high-profile battle with clinical depression. The New York Times has more.

Beltway Briefing: Age: Wisdom Or Uncertainty?

Explore the pros and cons of an aging federal government, the criminal entanglements of former President Donald Trump and Hunter Biden, and the glimmer of hope on the 2028 presidential horizon. Featuring: CPS’s Howard Schweitzer, Patrick Martin, and Rodney Davis. Listen to the latest episode here.

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