Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, January 19, 2023

January 19, 2023


Newly Inaugurated Governor Shapiro Issues Executive Order Undoing Degree Requirements for State Jobs, Visits PEMA Offices

Upon his inauguration on Tuesday, Josh Shapiro officially became Governor of Pennsylvania — and he wasted no time in beginning to work toward accomplishing the policy goals set during his campaign. His first order of business on Wednesday was to issue an executive order eliminating the four-year college degree requirement for approximately 65,000 state positions — accounting for roughly 92% of all state positions — and requiring the Office of Administration to instead prioritize skills and relevant job experience when considering candidates. He also paid a visit to the office of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), affirming his administration’s commitment to public safety and overall preparedness.

State Senate Gavels Out Until End of February

Yesterday, the state Senate opted to adjourn until February 27 as the state House continues to flounder on the adoption of a new rules package due to partisan disagreements and the impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner — which had originally been scheduled to begin January 18 — continues in its holding pattern due to uncertainties in the wake of the Commonwealth Court’s filing on the matter earlier this month. The chamber will reconvene following the February 7 House special elections in Allegheny County, which should ameliorate the blockage in the General Assembly. The Center Square has more.

State Senator Cappelletti’s Historic First Will Set Precedent for Future Senators Who Give Birth While in Office

State Senator Amanda Cappelletti of Delaware and Montgomery Counties is expecting her first child this spring, which will make her the first sitting senator in Pennsylvania history to give birth while in office. In a state that now ranks 29th in the nation in terms of female representation, this has begged a few questions, including what parental leave for a sitting senator should look like and what health accommodations should be provided to her upon her return to the chamber. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Senator Mastriano the Most Recent Republican Come Around to the Idea of Mail-In Voting

State Senator Doug Mastriano is the latest Republican to change his tune on the merits of mail-in voting. In an opinion piece recently published in the Epoch Times, the former gubernatorial candidate — who lost to now-Governor Josh Shapiro by a sizable margin — included mail-in voting in his four-point strategy to make the state’s Republican party more competitive in future elections. Senator Mastriano joins a number of Pennsylvania Republicans in his reevaluation of mail-in voting, especially in light of the failure of a predicted “red wave” to materialize during the 2022 midterm elections.

Pennsylvania’s Two Largest Cities Rank Among Lowest “Real Minimum Wages” in the Nation

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 hasn’t been raised since 2009, and inflation has taken its toll on minimum wage earners. Recently, analysts at SmartAsset, a financial literacy site, compiled a ranking of the nation’s largest cities in terms of their “real minimum wage” — or, minimum wage when adjusted for cost of living. Philadelphia ranked fourth, with a cost of living 8.4% higher than the national average, while Pittsburgh ranked just outside of the top ten at #11. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.



2023 Mayoral Race Watch: Former Lieutenant Governor Stack to Join Race; City Councilmembers to Host Mayoral Forum on Gun Violence

Former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack is reportedly planning to join the race for Philadelphia mayor, making him the 11th candidate to do so. Meanwhile, Councilmembers Curtis Jones of the 4th District and Kenyatta Johnson of the 2nd District will be hosting a Democratic Mayoral Candidate Forum focused on the topic of gun violence this evening at St. Joseph’s University.

U.S. House Republicans Investigating Penn’s Involvement in President Biden’s Classified Documents Saga

The recent discovery of classified documents from President Joe Biden’s time as vice president at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C. has made national headlines. For Penn President Liz Magill, this has meant fielding questions about potential “foreign influence” at the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Biden Center from House Republicans. The University has denied solicitation or receipt of gifts from any foreign entities, including China. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Pittsburgh City Councilmember Kraus Will Not Seek Reelection

Pittsburgh City Councilmember Bruce Kraus announced Wednesday that he would not be seeking reelection. Councilmember Kraus has served in his position for 16 years, six of which he served as council president, and became the first openly gay person elected to council in 2014. His chief of staff, Bob Charland, intends to run for the seat. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.

University of Pittsburgh Reinstates Star Basketball Player Despite History of Domestic Violence

The University of Pittsburgh is facing backlash in the wake of its decision to reinstate freshman and four-star recruit Dior Johnson to the men’s basketball team, despite his having pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for strangulation and simple assault. Jenna Berman, the student who first reported the incident, says the University’s decision sends a message that “that his position on the team matters more than the woman he assaulted.” Public Source has more.



U.S. Representative Thompson Now Heads House Agriculture Committee

U.S. Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson has assumed leadership of the House Agriculture Committee, making him the first Pennsylvanian to head the committee in 168 years. First on the committee’s list of priorities is auditing the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation with far-reaching impact from farm subsidies and rural development to conservation and exports. The current bill is set to expire in September. PennLive has more.

Beltway Briefing Special Edition: CPS Welcomes Former Congressman Rodney Davis 

Last week, Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies was thrilled to announce that former Congressman Rodney Davis would be joining the firm as Managing Director. In the most recent episode of the Beltway Briefing Podcast, he and regular co-hosts Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, Towner French, and Kaitlyn Martin discuss the measures taken up to advance the GOP’s agenda during the first full week of the 118th Congress, as well as President Joe Biden’s ballooning political problem resulting from revelations that classified documents dating from his vice presidency were found at his home and private office. Listen to the latest episode here.


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