Will An Independent Speaker Make the State House Less Partisan?
On Tuesday, the selection of Representative Mark Rozzi of Berks County as the state House’s new speaker — and the subsequent announcement that the former Democrat would henceforth act as an Independent — shocked even the most ardent Pennsylvania politicos. As the logistical ramifications of this move continue to reveal themselves, many on both sides of the aisle have speculated on the potential effects that an independent speaker will have on the highly partisan legislative body. Spotlight PA has more.
Al Schmidt to Be Awarded by White House, Nominated as Pennsylvania Secretary of State
Former Philadelphia elections official Al Schmidt will be recognized by President Joe Biden with the Presidential Citizens Medal this Friday — marking the second anniversary of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Schmidt, who is himself a Republican, fought back against GOP-led efforts to subvert the results of Pennsylvania’s election in 2020. The announcement closely followed the news that Pennsylvania Governor-Elect Josh Shapiro intends to nominate Schmidt to the secretary of state position in his new administration.
IFO Releases Report on Post-Pandemic Gasoline Consumption
The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), the state agency responsible for providing revenue projections and impartial analysis for state legislators, has released its report on post-pandemic gas consumption throughout the state. Notably, data collected through September 2022 show that gasoline consumption has partially bounced back from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related work-from-home policies, though has yet to fully recover. Gas taxes provide more than half of the state’s funds for road and bridge construction, which also impacts the number of matching federal dollars that will be made available to the state. Read the research brief here.
Pennsylvania Turnpike Tolls to Increase This Sunday
Beginning Sunday, January 8, Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls will increase by 5%, the first of such annual increases the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has planned through 2025. The increase, announced in August 2022, marks the 15th consecutive year of annual toll increases, and will be accompanied by a more aggressive enforcement policy. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.
Mayoral Candidate Allan Domb Triggers “Millionaire’s Amendment”
With the recent disclosure that his own out-of-pocket donations to his campaign have surpassed the $250,000 mark, former City Councilmember Allan Domb has officially triggered Philadelphia’s “millionaire’s amendment” — a campaign finance stipulation that doubles the annual limit on campaign contributions for individuals from $3,100 to $6,200 and for organizations from $12,600 to $25,200. While it was widely anticipated that Domb would eventually trigger the provision, the news comes earlier in the campaign than many expected. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.
Former Mayoral Spokesperson Joanna Doven Announces Run for At-Large Allegheny County Council Seat
Former spokesperson for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Joanna Doven has officially entered the race for the Democratic at-large Allegheny County Council seat currently held by incumbent Bethany Hallam. Councilmember Hallam is expected to announce her re-election campaign at the end of this month. WESA has more.
Pittsburgh City Council President Kail-Smith Introduced Oversight Legislation for Local Violence Prevention Funding
Yesterday, Pittsburgh City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith introduced a bill that would require Stop the Violence grant recipients to submit a report on how exactly the funds are used. In November, the city announced that $1 million in Stop the Violence funding had been awarded to more than 30 local organizations for violence intervention and prevention. Council President Kail-Smith believes the proposed legislation will help provide needed oversight for the program. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.
U.S. Representative Perry Key Player Among Rightwing Faction Blocking Representative McCarthy’s House Speaker Bids
For the past three days, all eyes have been on Washington, where U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy has so far failed in his bid to become House Speaker time and time again. Pennsylvania U.S. Representative Scott Perry has been a consistent voice among the “Never Kevin” cohort, all of whom question Representative McCarthy’s conservative bona fides. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.
U.S. Senator Casey Diagnosed With Prostate Cancer
Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey announced earlier today that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer last month and plans to undergo surgery in the coming months. He hopes to continue serving in the current Congress with “minimal disruption.” WGAL has more