Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, June 29, 2023

June 29, 2023


Lawmakers in Harrisburg Race to Meet Budget Deadline

Tomorrow is the deadline for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass the FY24 budget — the first of Governor Josh Shapiro’s tenure — though ongoing debates over so-called “lifeline scholarships” and state higher education funding has made it unclear whether lawmakers will meet this deadline. The Associated Press has more.

Several of Governor Shapiro’s Cabinet Nominations Made Official

The State Senate voted to confirm Khalid Mumin as Secretary of Education, Thomas Cook as Fire Commissioner, Mike Humphreys as Insurance Commissioner on Monday and Rich Negrin as the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Governor Josh Shapiro recalled his nominee to head the Department of Health, as it appeared she did not have the votes necessary to be confirmed. On Wednesday, the constitutionally mandated deadline for the Senate to vote to confirm cabinet nominees — which is 25 legislative days from the date of their nomination — expired, making Al Schmidt, Val Arkoosh, and Pat Browne the new Secretary of the Commonwealth, Secretary of Human Services, and Secretary of Revenue, respectively. PoliticsPA has more.

Tracking Pennsylvania COVID-19 Stimulus Money Spending

Pennsylvania received $7.3 billion in state and local COVID-19 stimulus dollars — all of which must be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026 or returned to the federal government. $5.6 billion has been spent as of March, leaving billions of dollars left to allocate and spend. Spotlight PA has a detailed rundown of how these dollars have been used thus far.

Pennsylvania Secures Almost $1.2 Billion in Federal BEAD Funding

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden Announced a $42 billion investment in the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) grant program, with nearly $1.2 billion set to expand access to high-speed internet in Pennsylvania. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Gas Drillers In Pennsylvania Pay Record Amount in Impact Fees

In 2022, natural gas drillers across the commonwealth paid a record $278 million in impact fees, which are intended to offset the effects of drilling. StateImpact Pennsylvania has more.

State Legislators Consider Updating Medical Marijuana Restriction on Doctors

State legislators are considering eliminating an existing ban on doctors advertising their ability to approve patients for Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program. Spotlight PA has more.


Mail-in Ballot Nitpicking Occurs Disproportionately in Non-White, Low-Income Philadelphia Neighborhoods

An analysis conducted by Votebeat and Spotlight PA of the May 2023 primary has uncovered that voters who vote by mail from predominantly non-white and lower-income communities were more likely to have their ballots rejected due to simple mistakes like submitting undated or improperly dated ballots. The issue is particularly pressing given that this week the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rejected a Republican legal challenge against mail-in voting, meaning for now it is here to stay. Votebeat has more.

Moms for Liberty Kicks Off Annual Summit in Philadelphia

The controversial “parental rights” group Moms for Liberty officially kicks off its summit today with a scheduled welcome reception at the Museum of the American Revolution. While both former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are scheduled to speak, Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has pulled out of the event. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Deputy Landlord-Tenant Officer Fires Weapon on the Job

Three months after a woman was shot during an eviction, which itself resulted in calls for reform at both the city and state level, another deputy landlord-tenant officer fired a gun at a dog while serving an eviction. WHYY has more.

Warrant Sweep in Kensington Results in 175 Arrests for Drug Use, Illegal Gun Possession

Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced earlier this week that the police had made 175 arrests for illegal gun and drug possession during a targeted warrant sweep in Kensington last week. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Philadelphia Educators Express Concern Over School District Decision to Create New Curriculum

In May, the School Board of Philadelphia voted to enter new contracts with various education companies in order to create a more consistent curriculum. However, many of the city’s educators worry that this is not the most appropriate use for the precious amount of funding the District has to work with. Billy Penn has more.


County Executive Fitzgerald Requests County Court’s Opinion on Minimum Wage Bill

In response to Allegheny County Council’s vote to override a veto for its bill to establish a $20 minimum wage for County employees, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is now requesting that the County Court weigh in. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.

Incumbent Allegheny County DA Zappala Accepts GOP Write-In Nomination

Current Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. has accepted a write-in nomination as a Republican to run against Matt Dugan, who defeated Zappala in the Democratic primary. While Pennsylvania has a “sore loser” law that typically prohibits a losing candidate from running again in the general election, there is an exception for candidates who make the ballot thanks to write-in choices of the voters. WESA has more.

Good Employment Numbers for City of Pittsburgh May Be Threatened by Dwindling COVID-19 Funding

Unlike many municipalities across the country, the City of Pittsburgh hired more employees than it lost in 2022. However, while many hail this as a positive sign of post-pandemic economic recovery, others worry that the salaries for those hired relies too heavily on COVID-19 relief funds, which will be exhausted by 2024. PublicSource has more.


Senator Fetterman Seeks Answers From USDA Regarding Upcoming SNAP Eligibility Changes

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and several of his colleagues intend to investigate the upcoming changes to SNAP benefits program eligibility requirements from the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The changes were part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act — which Senator Fetterman voted against for that reason — passed and signed by President Joe Biden earlier this month. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.


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