Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, February 9, 2022

February 9, 2023


Special Elections Spell Democratic Victory in the State House; What Comes Next?

On Tuesday, Democratic candidates won three special elections in Allegheny County, earning the party a majority in the state House for the first time in 12 years. They now hold a narrow one-vote majority over House Republicans, bringing to an end the month-long standstill in the state legislative process. Campaign and party staffer Joe McAndrew, attorney Abigail Salisbury, and McKeesport political fixture Matt Gergely will fill seat vacancies left by the late longtime state Representative Tony DeLuca, U.S. Representative Summer Lee, and Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, respectively.

Current State House Speaker Mark Rozzi told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he would “reassess” his speakership once his General Assembly colleagues pass a bill which would create a two-year window for alleged victims of childhood sexual assault to file civil lawsuits in court, regardless of the statute of limitations. The legislation was passed by the Republican-controlled Senate last month, and Pennsylvania House Democrats have declared that this will be their first order of business when the House reconvenes.

Should Speaker Rozzi step down from the position, Democratic Representative Joanna McClinton would likely ascend to the speakership, which would make her the first woman and only the second Black person to step into the august role.

Commonwealth Court Rules Current State Education Funding Model Unconstitutional

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the state’s “outdated” funding distribution model for school districts is unconstitutional. The current formula ties school funding primarily to property taxes, which plaintiffs successfully argued has created an inherently inequitable system in which low-wealth districts are perpetually underfunded. Originally filed by the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center in 2014, the landmark decision was more than a decade in the making. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

State Supreme Court Rules on Undated, Wrongly Dated Mail Ballot

A new ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has reignited the debate over whether undated or wrongly dated mail ballots should be counted or thrown out — and has opened the door for a potential patchwork of policies that vary from county to county. In Pennsylvania, all ballots must be properly dated with the date the voter filled it out in order to be legally counted. However, Justice David Wecht issued a series of opinions on Wednesday that suggest that confirming whether the date on mailed in ballots is correct is beyond the purview of the state, and that the question should be left up to county boards of elections. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Mayor Kenney Signals Priorities for Last Year in Office, Looks Toward the Future

During an onstage interview with Independence Blue Cross President and CEO Gregory E. Deavens at the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s annual Mayor’s Luncheon, Mayor Jim Kenney called for further business tax cuts as a priority heading into the spring budget season during his last year in office. He also shared advice for the several mayoral candidates in attendance, and hinted at what’s next in his own career — perhaps founding a nonprofit or foundation to expose more of Philadelphia’s youth to live cultural performance. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

The Mayor’s Fund is Now the Philadelphia City Fund

The Mayor’s Fund, an independent nonprofit that helps connect philanthropic funding to city initiatives, has officially rebranded itself as the Philadelphia City Fund in a symbolic shedding of a negative reputation it developed following several financial scandals during Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration. The Fund has recently supported Comcast’s PHL ConnectED partnership, coordination efforts for asylum seeking immigrants who were bused in from Texas, Philadelphia’s urban forest strategic plan, and a pandemic-era worker relief fund. Billy Penn has more.



Pittsburgh City Council Passes Bill to Provide De-Escalation Training to Food Service, Retail Staff

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed a bill that directs the Office of Community Health and safety to develop training resources for retail and food service workers across the city, equipping them to safely assist people suffering from mental health issues, homelessness, and substance use disorders. WESA has more.

Meet the Candidates for Allegheny County Executive

With three special state House elections now in the rearview mirror, the race to watch in Western Pennsylvania is that for Allegheny County Executive. City & State Pennsylvania has put together profiles of each of the seven Democratic and one Republican candidates.



Senator Fetterman Hospitalized Due to Lightheadedness

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman was hospitalized yesterday after feeling lightheaded during a Democratic retreat, according to his office. The Senator had suffered a stroke during his campaign last May, and initial testing performed at George Washington University Hospital suggests that the lightheadedness is not indicative of a new stroke. The Associated Press has more.


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