Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, January 11, 2024

January 11, 2024

Pennsylvania

Shapiro Administration, OpenAI Launch Generative AI Pilot for Pennsylvania Employees

Governor Josh Shapiro unveiled a first-of-its-kind partnership between his administration and OpenAI on Tuesday, introducing a pioneering generative artificial intelligence (AI) pilot program enabling state employees to access OpenAI tools with enhanced security and privacy features. PoliticsPA has more.

Governor Shapiro Emphasizes Importance of Agriculture at Farm Show

Governor Shapiro announced plans to unveil an economic development strategy — including agriculture as one of four “pillars of opportunity” — during his visit to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. PennLive has more.

Pennsylvania Must Allocate $5.4 Billion to Narrow School Funding Disparity, Democratic-Backed Report Says

A long-awaited report approved 8-7 by the Basic Education Funding Commission suggests that the state will need to spend at least $5.4 billion to address the funding gap between rich and poor school districts. The news comes amid ongoing debates over education policy and school funding as state lawmakers endeavor to overhaul Pennsylvania’s unconstitutional school funding formula. Additional challenges include a little-known mechanism known as “hold harmless,” which creates an equity divide between the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania school districts, and the recent diversion of $100 million in funding — initially intended to address vacancies and funding deficits in Pennsylvania’s 100 poorest school districts — to fund school construction projects instead.

2024 Elections to Determine Control of State House — Again

This year’s elections for control of the state House — which is currently tied at 101-101— is anticipated to be highly competitive, with Pennsylvania considered a top target for Democrats at the national level.

State House to Consider Changing 2028 Primary Date to Increase Pennsylvania’s Election Power

State Representative Keith Greiner (R-Lancaster) has introduced legislation that would advance Pennsylvania’s 2028 primary from the fourth Tuesday of April to the third Tuesday of March to increase its significance in the party nominee selection process. WESA has more.

Proposed Bill Would Suspend Legislators’ Pay for Failure to Pass Budget by Annual Deadline

During Pennsylvania’s budget impasse last year, 12 state House lawmakers — including Representative Jill Cooper (R-Westmoreland), the primary sponsor of a proposed “no budget, no pay” bill — chose not to cash at least one paycheck. The legislation proposed would suspend pay if the legislature fails to pass a main appropriations bill by the June 30 deadline and retroactively pay lawmakers when the bill passes. Spotlight PA has more.

Who Is, Is Not Running for State House, Senate

This week, several state legislators announced their plans for the future, including Representative John Schlegel (R-Lebanon) and Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), both of whom will seek reelection, and Senator Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport), who announced his retirement. Representative Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny) has declared his candidacy for Senator Brewster’s seat. Meanwhile, Democrat Cristian Luna has announced his candidacy for House District 13 in Harrisburg, which is currently held by Representative John Lawrence (R-Chester).

Pennsylvania to Provide State Money for Public Defense for First Time

A committee will be assembled in the near future to determine the allocation of Pennsylvania’s inaugural funding for public defense, though experts have warned that the investment may not be sufficient to achieve equity in the justice system. Spotlight PA has more.

Partisan Split on Energy, Environment Threatens Potential for Compromise

The partisan divide in the General Assembly over energy and environmental issues is expected to hinder compromise, with Republicans focusing on energy production and reliability, hydrogen hubs, and carbon capture, and Democrats prioritizing climate change solutions, joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), enforcing environmental regulations, and securing more funding for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Center Square has more.

Record High Number of Pennsylvanians Enrolled in SNAP Despite Record Low Unemployment

While unemployment has decreased in Pennsylvania, a record two million people were enrolled in the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program at the end of last year, with factors such as inflation and state rules expanding eligibility cited as reasons for the disparity. WESA has more.

Pennsylvania Enact Personal Finance Requirement for High Schoolers

Starting in the 2026-27 academic year, Pennsylvania will become the 25th state to require its high schools to offer personal financial literacy courses worth at least half a credit for graduation. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

 

Philadelphia

Mayor Parker Appoints New Deputy Police Commissioner to Lead Kensington Strategy

Mayor Cherelle Parker has appointed deputy commissioner Pedro Rosario, the first Latino to hold the position, to head the Philadelphia Police Department’s strategy in Kensington. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

City Commissioner Sabir New Chair of Elections Oversight Board

City Commissioner Omar Sabir was appointed chair of the three-member elections oversight body on Wednesday, replacing Commissioner Lisa Deeley. Commissioners Sabir and Seth Bluestein also voted for rule changes including the decentralization of power and the ability for each commissioner to hire staff and set salaries. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

 

Pittsburgh

County Executive Innamorato Pledges $500,000 to Child Care Pilot Program

Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato allocated $500,000 to a pilot program subsidizing child care, addressing what she called an “urgent crisis,” aiming to support families facing child care affordability issues and boost economic growth by preventing parents from leaving the workforce. PublicSource has more.

Pittsburgh City Council Begins New Legislative Session

Pittsburgh City Council kicked off its new legislative term Monday by unanimously elected Councilmember Daniel Lavelle (District 6) as the new council president and swearing in two new members, Bob Charland (District 3) and Khari Mosley (District 9). WESA has more.

Allegheny County Controller to Audit Homeless Prevention Funding Utilization

Allegheny County Controller Corey O’Connor plans to audit the $10 million in funding allocated from the state’s Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) to assess the effectiveness of existing programs aimed at preventing and alleviating homelessness. WPXI has more.

Excelitas to Move Headquarters, 250 Jobs to Pittsburgh

Excelitas, a global photonics technology company, is relocating its headquarters from Waltham, Massachusetts to Pittsburgh’s Strip District, with a commitment to generate a minimum 250 jobs within four years. WESA has more.

 

Federal

President Biden to visit Allentown on Friday

President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Allentown tomorrow to discuss the positive impacts of his economic agenda, emphasizing the recovery of communities, a thriving small business sector, job creation, wage growth, economic strengthening, and reduced costs for families. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Quinnipiac Poll Shows Biden, Casey Leading Trump, McCormick in Pennsylvania

A recent Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvania voters shows President Joe Biden narrowly leading former President Donald Trump 49% to 46%. The same poll shows U.S. Senator Bob Casey with a 10-point lead over likely Republican nominee David McCormick. Senator Casey raised $3.6 million last quarter, compared to McCormick’s $6.4 million. PennLive has more.

Representative Deluzio Calls for Defense Secretary Austin’s Resignation

Democratic U.S. Representative Chris Deluzio (PA-17) is the first member of Congress to call for U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to resign due to his failure to disclose his recent hospitalization to the Biden Administration. PoliticsPA has more.

Ashley Ehasz Announces Largest Fundraising Haul in Race for PA-01

Democrat Ashley Ehasz announced her largest fundraising haul this week in her campaign for Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, a seat currently held by Republican U.S. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick. The New Hope Free Press has more.

Amanda Waldman Announces Candidacy for PA-09

Democrat Amanda Waldman has announced her candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Republican U.S. Representative Dan Meuser. PoliticsPA has more.

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