Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, June 6, 2024

June 6, 2024


Gov. Shapiro Signs Bill Banning Use of Handheld Devices While Driving

On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro signed a ban on using handheld electronics while driving. The law includes data collection on traffic stops to ensure accountability and transparency. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

State Legislators Grapple with Public Education Funding Reform

State House Democrats introduced a comprehensive bill to overhaul Pennsylvania’s public education funding, aiming to allocate billions to underfunded schools over seven years and reduce payments to cyber charters, sparking resistance from Republicans who control the Senate and raising concerns among charter advocates. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Polls Indicate PA Residents Want to Streamline Housing Construction

Recent polls reflect the nuanced politics of housing affordability, with most Pennsylvania respondents favoring building more homes quickly over preserving local government control, although the issue of state preemption of local land use laws remains contentious and complex. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Shell Cracker Plant Encounters Economic, Environmental Criticism

Vowing the genesis of thousands of new jobs and a significant economic boost to the Ohio River Valley, the Shell Cracker Plant faces skeptical Beaver County officials and residents in their calls to shutdown the plant. Critics argue that the plant seems to present more challenges than benefits, as the oil entity has garnered up to $10 million in environmental fines due to excessive emissions and has only generated 600 jobs. KDKA has more.

President Biden’s Infrastructure Legislation put into Action in PA

Governor Josh Shapiro and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to a steel plant in Steelton to showcase a direct benefit of Biden’s historic bi-partisan infrastructure legislation. The president signed the $1 trillion bill into law back in 2021, paving the way for plants like the one in Steelton to boost production of freight, commercial, and cargo rails; vital machinery components; and military vehicles. PennLive has more.



City Council Approves FY25 Budget

Philadelphia City Council advanced Mayor Cherelle Parker’s proposed $6.37 billion FY25 Budget.  The budget prioritizes public safety and quality-of-life improvement — including a $100 million “triage and wellness” facility in Northeast Philadelphia —  without raising taxes. The budget bills are on track to be passed finally during next week’s stated meeting. Read CPS’s summary here.

Fallout from Announcement of UArts Closure Continues

Since last week’s announcement of the University of the Arts’ (UArts) imminent closure, President Kerry Walk resigned, UArts faculty filed a class-action lawsuit over the lack of notice, and other Philadelphia institutions stepped up to help UArts students looking to continue their education — with Temple University exploring a potential merger. City Council will also be investigating the closure.

Eviction Legislation Progresses in Philly City Council 

Philadelphia City Council pushed forward a bill that, if passed, would require eviction contractors with the Landlord and Tenant Office to obtain a city license prior to conducting evictions. The proposed license process consists of 189 hours of training, which Council deemed necessary after a series of violent altercations broke out between deputy officers and tenants last year. WHYY has more.

Forman Arts Initiative Scores Big in Acquiring Kensington Block

The Forman Arts Initiative acquired 100,000 square feet of commercial property, including a quarter of an acre of green space on the 2200 block of North American Street. The initiative indicated that it will collaborate with internationally renowned artist Theaster Gates to develop a proposed city arts campus. WHYY has more.



Pittsburgh Leaders Aim to Revitalize Downtown Ahead of NFL Draft

Yesterday, Pittsburgh leaders unveiled a revitalization plan for Point State Park, Market Square, and Eighth Street, aiming to enhance public amenities and support residential growth ahead of the 2026 NFL Draft. The Pittsburgh-Tribune Review has more.

Fire Leaves Second Avenue Commons Residents Shelterless

A fire at the Second Avenue Commons, purportedly caused by an overhead air conditioner, sent the Allegheny County Department of Health & Human Services scrambling to find another shelter for the 180 Second Avenue Commons residents. Officials have yet to provide a timeline regarding when residents can return. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Triangle Tech Announces Impending Closure

The Pittsburgh-based, for-profit school system began its mission of imparting career and technical skills upon young minds in 1944. Presently serving 261 students and employing 110 staff, the school system blamed stringent governmental regulations and unfavorable economic conditions for its decision to close. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.



Democrats Split Over Emphasizing Trump’s Conviction in Election Messaging in PA

President Joe Biden’s campaign has indicated plans to emphasize former President Donald Trump’s felony conviction in reelection messaging. But in Pennsylvania, a crucial battleground state, Democrats remain unsure of its impact on voters. A recent poll by Florida Atlantic University shows Trump leading Biden slightly in Pennsylvania. The Associated Press has more.

U.S. Rep. Perry Appointed to House Intelligence Committee

Representative Scott Perry (R-PA-10) has been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee despite an ongoing federal investigation into his alleged role in attempting to overturn the 2020 election. The latest poll from Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research shows incumbent Rep. Perry and Democratic challenger Janelle Stelson in a statistical tie. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.


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