Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 2, 2023

March 2, 2023


State House Approves Session Operating Rules

Yesterday, the state House at long last passed its session rules, which included reforms that grant the chamber’s minority party, currently Republicans, more agency in the legislative process. Session rules are typically voted on at the first order of business in January, but an ongoing dispute over chamber leadership that was eventually resolved by three Allegheny County special elections last month prevented this routine procedure from occurring in a timely fashion. WITF has more.

State Senate Committee Subpoenas Norfolk Southern CEO

The Pennsylvania Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted yesterday to subpoena Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw to testify at a hearing regarding the recent East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment and subsequent public health and safety concerns. The hearing will take place March 8. PoliticsPA has more.

Standoff Between House Democrats, House Republicans Regarding Childhood Sexual Abuse Statute of Limitations Reform Continues

Though the state House has finally moved past its leadership disagreement from earlier this year, a partisan divide in the General Assembly still remains. This divide has most recently manifested itself in the ongoing debate between House Democrats and Senate Republicans over a childhood sexual abuse statute of limitations reform bill passed by the Senate in January, which was bundled with two controversial and unrelated constitutional amendments. PennLive has more.

Representative Zabel Named as Anonymous Legislator at Center of SEIU Lobbyist’s Sexual Harassment Allegations

An anonymous witness has corroborated the story of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 32BJ lobbyist Andi Perez, who in a January meeting organized by then-House Speaker Mark Rozzi revealed that she had been sexually harassed by Representative Mike Zabel, whom she did not name publicly at the time. Some are now calling for Rep. Zabel to resign, though he has not yet publicly responded to the allegations. SpotlightPA has more.



Mayor Kenney Gives Final Budget Address Before City Council

Earlier today, Mayor Jim Kenney gave the final budget address of his term, and the first in-person budget address since March 2020. The presentation of his $6.1 billion proposed budget was punctuated throughout with reflections on his administration’s accomplishments over his two-term tenure. The proposal largely sticks to the status quo, while offering new measures to tackle the city’s gun-violence epidemic and address economic inequality during Mayor Kenney’s final months in office. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

This Week’s Mayoral Candidate Forums Address Gun Violence; Performing Arts, Culture Economy

On Wednesday evening, WHYY, Billy Penn, and the CeasefirePA Education Fund hosted a mayoral forum during which eight candidates discussed their plans to address the city’s gun violence crisis, if elected. Topics ranged from city programs and community policing to potential changes to Philadelphia Police Department leadership. This evening, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Kimmel Center, and City & State Pennsylvania will be hosting a mayoral forum on Philadelphia’s performing arts and culture economy.

Philadelphia Flower Show Returns to Pennsylvania Convention Center This Weekend

The Philadelphia Flower Show, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s signature annual event, is returning to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend with a fresh perspective after two years of hosting the event outdoors. PennLive has more.

SEPTA to Invest $17 Million in 10 Fuel-Cell Electric Buses

Yesterday, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) unveiled plans to purchase 10 fuel-cell electric transit buses to its fleet. The buses, which will cost an estimated $17 million, will be able to generate their own electricity, and are part of SEPTA’s overarching efforts to work toward the goal of a zero-emissions fleet. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



1Hood Media Hosts Allegheny County Controller Candidate Forum

Darwin Leuba and Corey O’Connor, the two declared Democratic candidates for Allegheny County controller, participated in a candidate forum to address issues such as accessible transit and the protections for the environment. O’Connor is the current acting county controller, while Lueba serves as the auditor of O’Hara Township. The Pittsburgh Union Progress has more.

The Next Generation of Pittsburgh Leaders Run Are Running for City Council

The candidate pool for various Pittsburgh City Council seats skews far younger than it has in elections past, with many hoping to bring a “fresh perspective” to the city’s legislative body. The current median age of challengers is 31, whereas the median age of current Council members is over 50. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more.

Governor Shapiro Visits Pittsburgh-Based Astrobotic; Foreshadows Potential Budget Priorities

On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro paid a visit to Pittsburgh-based aerospace company Astrobotic Technology, whom he lauded for their lunar landing equipment’s impending trip to the moon in May. During the visit, the Governor also highlighted Astrobotic as the type of science and technology company that Pennsylvania should be investing in, hinting at a potential priority that may be included during next week’s budget address. The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has more.



White House Releases Fact Sheets Demonstrating Impact of Infrastructure Investment in States

On Tuesday, the White House released fact sheets on how Bipartisan Infrastructure dollars are being spent in different states. Projects of note in Pennsylvania include the Lehigh Valley International Airport terminal expansion, intersection and sidewalk upgrades in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, and investment in clean buses for SEPTA. View other state fact sheets here.

Senators Casey, Fetterman Join Forces With Senate Colleagues to Introduce Rail Safety Bill 

On Wednesday, a bipartisan U.S. Senate group — including Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman — introduced rail safety legislation in response to the recent Norfolk Southern derailment in Ohio. If passed, the legislation will require rail companies to give advance notice to emergency response officials about the transport of hazardous materials, require routine inspections of said materials, and require crews of at least two people per train. CBS has more


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