Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, August 24, 2023

August 24, 2023


State Senate to Return to Harrisburg to Hammer Out Final Details on FY24 Budget

Members of the state Senate will reportedly be reconvening in Harrisburg next week to work on finalizing the remaining pieces of the FY24 budget. While Governor Josh Shapiro signed the $45.5 billion spending plan in early August, a $1.1 billion portion was held back for further code bill negotiations, further holding up several state programs — including funding for a popular home repair program and the state’s first-ever line item for public defense. Whether Senate Republicans will attempt once more to incorporate the controversial private school voucher program that was responsible for the initial hold up remains to be seen. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Governor Shapiro to Headline New Hampshire Democratic Convention

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Democratic Party announced that Governor Shapiro would be headlining its convention on September 30. His visit to the early-nominating Granite State signals to some that the governor may be a contender for the Democratic Party’s 2028 presidential nomination. NBC News has more.

Pennsylvania’s “Acting” Cabinet Members Wield Similar Power as Confirmed Ones; Should They?

Debra Bogen and Wendy Spicher — Governor Shapiro’s nominees to lead the Department of Health and the Department of Banking & Securities, respectively — have never been confirmed by the state Senate, leaving them as “acting” heads of their departments, despite having virtually the same powers and authority as their confirmed cabinet colleagues. State Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Judy Ward (R-Blair) reportedly intend to introduce a constitutional amendment in September to limit the powers of acting secretaries. WESA has more.

Two of Pennsylvania’s State Employee Unions Ratify New Contracts With Shapiro Administration

Members of two state employee unions — the Service Employees International Union Local 668 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 13 — ratified identical four-year contract extensions this month, which are expected to raise salaries by approximately 20%. The Associated Press has more.

State Senate to Consider Regulating Use of Algorithms in Health Insurance Claims

State Representative Arvind Venkat (D-Allegheny) has circulated a co-sponsorship memo for legislation he plans to introduce that would regulate health insurance companies’ use of algorithms to assess claims. WITF has more.

Business Leaders, State Senators Push for State-Level Permitting Reform

This week, Senators Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) participated in a virtual discussion with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the possibility of making state-level permitting reforms. A bill sponsored by Senator Phillips-Hill intended to make Pennsylvania more business friendly passed the state Senate largely along party lines in May and awaits a vote in the state House. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

State Senator Host Public Hearing on Potential Skill Games Regulation

State Senators Amanda Cappelletti (D-Montgomery) and Katie Muth (D-Montgomery) hosted a public hearing in Radnor Township on Wednesday to discuss the merits of regulating and taxing skill games with representatives from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the gaming industry, and law enforcement. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

PFAS Found in 76% of Pennsylvania Streams Sampled by USGS 

A study recently released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found that 76% of streams sampled contained the presence of at least one compound from the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

PUC Announces Appointment of New Executive Director

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissions (PUC) has announced the appointment of Jennifer Berrier as its new executive director, effective September 11. PUC has more.



Philadelphia Lawmakers Launch New Rental Improvement Fund 

On Wednesday, Philadelphia city and state lawmakers gathered in West Philadelphia to celebrate the launch of the Rental Improvement Fund, which will provide forgivable and 0%-interest loans to small landlords for property repair and modernization projects. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Retail, Residential, Transit Developments to Transform North Broad Street

North Broad Street is embarking on a period of transformation, with several new retail, residential, and transit projects at various stages of development. Billy Penn has more.

Thomas Jefferson University Appoints New Medical School Dean

This week, Thomas Jefferson University announced the appointment of Said A. Ibrahim as the new Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Dr. Ibrahim — who has worked at several major health systems, including the University of Pennsylvania and Weill Cornell Medicine — will make history as the College’s first Black dean. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



City Controller’s Office Releases Audit of EMS Bureau, Warns About Risks of Understaffing

On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh City Controller’s Office released a performance audit of the city’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS), which enumerates the potential risks posed by the bureau’s ongoing staffing shortage. WESA has more.



Pennsylvania’s Environmental Groups Push for Conservation Funding in Next Farm Bill

Pennsylvania’s environmental advocates are hoping to see more funding for conservation efforts included in the next Farm Bill — a massive piece of legislation with far-reaching impact from farm subsidies and rural development to conservation and exports — which is currently being negotiated in Congress. StateImpact Pennsylvania has more.

Republican Tim Kramer Enters U.S. House Race

This week, Republican Tim Kramer filed a statement of organization for a political action committee ahead of a likely run for Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District. The seat is currently held by Republican U.S. Representative Mike Kelly. PoliticsPA has more.


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