Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 16, 2023

March 16, 2023


State House Ethics Committee Establishes New Rules; Speaker McClinton Issues Writ for Special Election

Earlier this afternoon, the bipartisan State House Ethics Committee met for the first time this session to adopt rules. Notably, the committee will now accept complaints for behavior dating as far back as five years, and will soon allow complaint forms to be submitted online. The changes come in the wake of Democratic Representative Mike Zabel’s resignation — effective today — for alleged sexual harassment. In related news, House Speaker Joanna McClinton has issued a writ calling for a May 16 special election to fill now-former Rep. Zabel’s Delaware County seat. PennLive has more.

State Representative Grove Expresses Concern Over Governor Shapiro’s “Masking” of Budget Deficit

Republican State Representative Seth Grove of York County is calling out Governor Josh Shapiro’s $44.4 billion budget proposal — namely, what Rep. Grove calls a masking of a $2 billion structural deficit, drawn from the state’s approximately $6 billion surplus. This practice has been in place since the administration of Republican Governor Tom Corbett. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

State Representative Kenyatta Would Re-Establish School Audit Bureau if Elected Auditor General

With his campaign for Pennsylvania auditor general officially underway, State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta has unveiled a three-point plan that details how he would run the office, which includes re-establishing the school audit bureau that current Auditor General Timothy DeFoor eliminated during his tenure. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Republican State Lawmakers Do Not Plan to Appeal Commonwealth Court’s Landmark School Funding Decision, Per Governor Shapiro

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court handed down a landmark decision that declared the state’s current school funding formula unconstitutional. During a visit to a Philadelphia school on Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro assured residents that his Republican colleagues in the General Assembly have indicated that they do not plan to appeal this decision. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Penn State Administrators Prepare for Layoffs Due to Greater-Than-Anticipated Budget Cuts

Employees of Penn State University are bracing themselves for layoffs in light of recent revelations from school leadership that this year’s budget cuts will be greater than initially expected. Spotlight PA has more.

U.S. Steel to Close Three Coke Batteries in Clairton

In an attempt to cut its emissions, U.S. Steel has announced that it plans to close three of its 10 coke batteries — which bake coal to make coke as an integral part of the steel manufacturing process — in Clairton this month. While the company has stated that it would reassign the 130 workers who will be impacted, it is unclear where said workers will be reassigned. StateImpact Pennsylvania has more.



Former City Council Members Running for Mayor Highlight Public Safety Platforms

Six of the 12 Democratic candidates for mayor are former City Council members. Of those, five voted to cancel a proposed $19 million police budget increase in the wake of the city’s 2020 racial justice reckoning. Now, with public safety likely to be a — if not the — deciding factor in who gets elected, many of these candidates are attempting to distance themselves from this decision, offering potential solutions that walk the line between sufficient Police Department funding and addressing calls for a more just system of public safety. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Six Mayoral Candidates Participate in BUILD Philly Forum

On Tuesday, six Democratic candidates for mayor met to debate issues of affordable housing and historic preservation. The BUILD Philly forum — hosted by some of the city’s most prominent developers, landlords, and preservationists — allowed the candidates to weigh in on topics including Philadelphia’s built environment, property tax abatements, rent control, and in-person office work. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Former Mayor Nutter Endorses Rhynhart for Mayor

Former Mayor Michael Nutter has formally endorsed former City Controller — and veteran of his administration — Rebecca Rhynhart for mayor. He has lauded her as a “very smart person” who “pays attention to details,” and stated that Philadelphia is “overdue” for a female mayor. WHYY has more.

Candidates Draw Ballot Positions for May 16 Primary

Philadelphia’s “coffee can of destiny” has spoken. Candidates for various municipal offices drew their ballot positions for the May 16 primary from the infamous Horn & Hardart coffee can yesterday. Numerous studies have shown that ballot placement can influence election outcomes, especially in low-turnout elections among low-information voters. Billy Penn has more.



Fetterman Team to Open Regional Office in Downtown Pittsburgh

U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania John Fetterman will be opening a regional office on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh, according to an announcement made by Fetterman State Director Joe Pierce this morning. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more.

Pittsburgh City Council Votes to Expand Allegheny River Greenway

Pittsburgh City Council voted Tuesday to approve a measure that will expand the Allegheny River Greenway into city-owned parcels that are not appropriate for development due to risk of landslides. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.

How Pittsburgh Became a Robotics, AI Powerhouse

A recent Forbes article has declared Pittsburgh one of the nation’s best incubators for robotics and artificial intelligence, due in large part to particularly strong connections between its academic, business, and government sectors. Read more here


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