Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 23, 2023

March 23, 2023

Pennsylvania

State House Legislators Grill Four State-Related Universities on Proposed Funding Growth

On Tuesday, the state House Appropriations Committee invited leaders of four state-related institutions — Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Temple University, and Lincoln University — to testify in a public hearing regarding the return on investment the institutions offer to Pennsylvania taxpayers. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Female Representation in Harrisburg Lags Despite Leadership of State House, Senate

Despite the historic nature of the leadership of Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward and House Speaker Joanna McClinton in their respective chambers, Pennsylvania ranks 27th nationally in terms of percentage of female representation in its legislature, with less than one-third of seats filled by women. SpotlightPA has more.

DEP Looks To Improve Permitting Process

During a Senate budget hearing on Wednesday, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) promised to streamline its permitting process in order to alleviate the burden on state businesses while also ensuring the enforcement of its environmental rules. PennLive has more.

 

Philadelphia

City Council Overturns Mayor Kenney Veto, Adds Creation of Public Safety Director Position to May Ballot

This morning, City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the City’s Home Rule Charter to create a new cabinet-level chief of public safety director position, clearing the way for it to appear on voters’ ballots along with three other questions on May 16. This is the second time in Mayor Jim Kenney’s seven years in office that City Council has voted to override a veto. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

2023 Mayoral Race Update: Ads, Endorsements, Exits, Forums

  • Fighting Together for Philadelphia, a super PAC supporting former Councilmember At-Large Helen Gym for mayor, is expected to begin running television ads this week that underline Gym’s commitment to public safety. She will be the fifth mayoral candidate to have a television presence.
  • Former District 9 Councilmember Cherelle Parker has picked up an endorsement from the Eastern Atlantic States Council of Carpenters. The carpenters union endorsed Mayor Jim Kenney in 2015, which played a pivotal role during that election cycle.
  • Former police officer and relative political unknown John Wood has dropped out of the mayor’s race. The candidate received notoriety — followed by scrutiny — when he drew the coveted first ballot position from the “coffee can of destiny” a few weeks ago.
  • Mayoral candidates answered questions related to education and building conditions during a mayoral forum hosted by the School District of Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Average Years of Experience Among City Council Members at 40-Year Low

According to a Philadelphia Inquirer analysis of more than 100 City Council members, the current cohort has fewer collective years of experience — which will only shrink next term —than any cohort since 1983. The median length of service on Council is currently 3.2 years. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Pew Releases New Report That Sheds Light on Impact of Homestead Exemption on Residents’ Tax Burden

A report released by Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative on Wednesday details how the city’s Homestead Exemption program — which deducts $80,000 from enrollees’ property values — has made the tax system progressive for homeowners and regressive for renters, with the city’s lowest-income homeowners paying the smallest effective rates and the lowest-income non-subsidized renters paying some of the highest. WHYY has more.

City Council Committee Holds Hearings on Source-of-Income Discrimination, Rent Control

This week, the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development & the Homeless heard testimony on housing voucher-based discrimination and potential legislation on rent control, during which tenants, housing providers, and local affordable housing advocates and policy leaders weighed in on existing challenges within the city’s current affordable housing system and potential solutions to improve access for low-income Philadelphians.

Historic Gas Station Moved to Make Way for Chubb Headquarters

Last night, workers and engineers — under the direction of the Parkway Corporation — completed the painstaking process of relocating a century-old, historically protected gas station from Center City to Fairmount Park, where it will find new life as a meeting space for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the Schuylkill Navy, an amateur rowing organization. The move was one of the first steps toward the construction of a new headquarters for Chubb Insurance. ABC 6 has more.

 

Pittsburgh

Developer Calls on Pittsburgh to Rescind New Zoning Review Fee Schedule

A prominent developer in Pittsburgh is challenging the city’s newly implemented fee schedule for zoning reviews, claiming that it causes undue financial burden to developers. Prior to the update, which now requires a $3 charge per $1,000 of project cost, zoning review fees were a flat fee based on the submitted application. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more.

Pittsburgh Syringe Services Program Runs Into Delays

Last year, Allegheny Country granted Pittsburgh the permission to run a syringe service program — commonly known as needle exchange — as a harm reduction measure to prevent those suffering from substance use disorders from contracting diseases from the use of non-sterilized equipment. However, a year later and seven months after the facility was initially expected to open, it still hasn’t, prompting officials to reconsider their approach. WESA has more.

 

Federal

Railroad Safety Bill Proposed by Pennsylvania, New York Representatives

Pennsylvania Representative Chris Deluzio has teamed up with his New York colleague Representative Nick LaLota to propose a rail safety bill — similar to a bill proposed in the Senate earlier this month — in response to the February Norfolk Southern train derailment. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Senator Casey Proposes Commercial Passenger Safety Bill

Senator Bob Casey has introduced an aviation safety bill that would require all domestic commercial passenger planes to install barriers between the cabin and cockpit. PennLive has more.

President Biden’s Popularity Wanes in His Pennsylvania Birthplace

President Joe Biden has long touted his connection to Pennsylvania, a politically crucial swing state. However, many residents of Scranton, the president’s birthplace, worry about the prospects of re-electing the 80 year old to the nation’s highest office. Reuters has more.

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