Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, January 4, 2024

January 4, 2024

Pennsylvania

How Governor Shapiro Plans to Navigate Challenges During Second Year in Office

The Associated Press recently interviewed Governor Josh Shapiro to discuss the challenges he faces during his second year in office, including responding to a court ruling on public school funding, overseeing a presidential election in a closely watched state, and navigating the nation’s only full-time divided legislature. A recent Muhlenberg College poll shows that 51% of Pennsylvanians approve of Governor Shapiro’s performance in 2023.

State Legislature Off to Slow Start This Year

The Pennsylvania legislature will be off to a slow start this year, as repairs for a water leak above the state House ceiling will prevent the chamber from holding voting sessions until March 18. Top priorities are expected to include public education funding and the outdated Election Code. Spotlight PA has more.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ward Re-elected

State Senator Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) has been re-elected as Senate President Pro Tempore. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

New State House Commerce Committee Chair Appointed

State Representative Scott Conklin (D-Rush Township) has been appointed chair of the Pennsylvania House Commerce Committee. StateCollege.com has more.

State Representatives Khan, Mercuri to Introduce Deep Fake Legislation

State Representatives Tarik Khan (D-Philadelphia) and Rob Mercuri (R-Allegheny) have circulated a co-sponsorship memo for legislation that would fine candidates, campaigns, and Super PACs for using deep fake technology to fraudulently misrepresent other candidates. WESA has more.

New Criminal Justice Laws Take Effect; Minimum Wage Remains Stagnant

This week, several new criminal justice reform laws passed by the legislature in December took effect in Pennsylvania. Notably, efforts to increase the state’s minimum wage, which has remained stagnant for over a decade and is lower than that of all neighboring states, have been stymied. KYW has more.

State Senator Regan Will Not Seek Re-election

State Senator Mike Regan (R-Cumberland) has announced that he will not run for reelection in 2024, the second midstate Republican to do so in the past month. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Lisa Kerle Announces Candidacy for House District 63

Lisa Kerle, a constituent services specialist for state Representative Donna Oberlander (R-Armstrong), has announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination in the House District 63. Representative Oberlander announced last month that she would not be seeking re-election. PoliticsPA has more.

Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Annual Toll Hike Begins Sunday

Beginning this Sunday, tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike will increase by 5%, marking the 16th consecutive year of rate increases. The Pittsburgh Union-Progress has more.

Pennsylvania Ends 2023 With Record-Low Unemployment

While the final report is expected to be released in March, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor announced that the state’s labor market closed the year off strong, with a record-low unemployment rate of 3.4% in November, which is down 4.4% compared to the previous year. WESA has more.

 

Philadelphia

Mayor Parker, New City Council Members Take Office; Councilmember Johnson Ascends to Council Presidency

On Tuesday, Mayor Cherelle Parker was sworn in as the city’s first-ever female executive. Tuesday also saw the election of new City Council President Kenyatta Johnson (District 2), Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large), and Majority Whip Isaiah Thomas (At-Large); the inauguration of four new members of City Council; the swearing in of Kevin Bethel as Philadelphia’s new police commissioner; and issuing of three executive orders from the Parker Administration.

Philadelphia Experiences Decrease in Violent Crime, Increase in Property Crime

Violent crime in Philadelphia declined by 20% from 2022 to 2023, following a nationwide trend, while property crimes, such as retail theft and carjackings, have  increased by more than 15%. PhillyVoice has more.

Plastic Bag Bans Come to Philadelphia Suburbs

A ban on single-use plastic bags has gone into effect in Upper Merion Township, with a similar ban going into effect in Lower Merion later this month. Philadelphia City Council recently updated its existing plastic bag ban with additional fee requirements for paper bags, though the bill was pocket-vetoed by outgoing Mayor Jim Kenney and will not become law.

 

Pittsburgh

County Executive Innamorato Sworn In; Announces Wage Increase for County Employees on First Full Day in Office

Progressive former state representative Sara Innamorato was sworn in as Allegheny County Executive on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to hold the prestigious office. Her inaugural address focused on issues including affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and affordable and accessible child care. During her first day in office, County Executive Innamorato announced an immediate wage increase for hundreds of full-time county employees. WESA has more.

 

Federal

President Biden Valley Forge Speech Rescheduled to Friday

President Joe Biden will deliver his first major campaign speech of 2024 in Montgomery County tomorrow. Originally scheduled for Saturday, the three-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, it was rescheduled due to expected inclement weather. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Liberal Activist Files Lawsuit to Bar U.S. Representative Perry From Primary Ballot

Liberal activist Gene Stilp has filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court seeking to bar Republican U.S. Representative Scott Perry (PA-10) from the state’s primary ballot, alleging that Representative Perry’s efforts to keep President Donald Trump in office and block the transfer of power to Joe Biden constitute insurrectionist activity, making him ineligible for public office under the Constitution’s insurrection clause. The Associated Press has more.

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