Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 30, 2023

March 30, 2023


State Democratic, Republican Parties Select Candidates for House District 163 Special Election

Democratic educator and former school board director Heather Boyd will face Republican Army veteran and special education therapist Kathleen Ford in the May 16 House District 163 special election. The seat was recently vacated by former Representative Zabel, who resigned due to allegations of sexual harassment.

Senator Mastriano to Reintroduce Legislation to Arm Teachers, Other School Employees

Republican Senator Doug Mastriano plans to reintroduce a bill that he had proposed during the previous legislative session that would allow for school faculty and staff to arm themselves on school grounds following training to secure a concealed carry permit. The move comes in the wake of a fatal school shooting in Nashville that has dominated national headlines, as well as an increase of school “swatting” incidents, one of which occurred in Pittsburgh yesterday. ABC27 has more.

Commonwealth Court Decision Does Little to Clear Up Confusion Regarding Legality of Certain Counties’ Ballot Curing Policies

Ballot curing policies vary from county to county in Pennsylvania, which has created a patchwork system that is an easy source of confusion for election officials, political parties, and voters alike. A recent Commonwealth Court decision on a case in which the Republican National Committee (RNC) alleged that allowing voters to fix errors on their mailed-in ballots violates the state’s Election Code has done little to clear up any of this confusion. Instead, the judge ruled that the Commonwealth Court was not the proper venue for the case. SpotlightPA has more.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Schmidt Speaks on Election Readiness, Staffing Shortages During Budget Hearing

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt testified during a State House Appropriations Committee budget hearing on Wednesday regarding Pennsylvania’s election readiness and constituent services. Among the ongoing challenges Secretary Schmidt identified was the staffing shortage within the Department of State. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Opinion: Pennsylvania’s Public Defenders Needs More Than Proposed Budget Allocates

Public defenders are a crucial resource for those who are unable to pay for their own criminal defense. Yet Pennsylvania is currently the only state that does not provide state funding for this vital service. While Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed budget would invest $10 million in commonwealth public defense services, Chief Defender at the Defender Association Keisha Hudson believes that this is not sufficient to meet the demand. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Lieutenant Governor Davis Joins Reproductive Freedom Coalition

On Monday, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis announced that he has joined the multi-state Reproductive Freedom Coalition, which includes 21 other Democratic lieutenant governors. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.



Philadelphia Population Reportedly Decreased for Second Year in a Row in 2022

For the second consecutive year, Philadelphia has lost residents, according to recently released census data. While this is a concerning statistic, experts say this does not necessarily indicate a trend, and these population estimates are subject to adjustments. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

City, School Officials Work to Find a Solution to Ongoing Asbestos Issues

Though the city’s school board passed a $4.5 billion preliminary budget last week, it does not include capital costs that would be necessary to address the asbestos and aging school infrastructure. The Philadelphia Inquirer has published an update on the situation as City officials work to find a solution to the ongoing threat of asbestos in school buildings.

Woman Shot by Landlord-Tenant Officer in North Philadelphia

A woman was shot in the head by a deputy landlord-tenant officer who was trying to enforce an eviction at the Girard Court Apartments in North Philadelphia Wednesday morning. The office represents a private contractor hired by the City to perform on-site lockouts, raising questions about City oversight. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Mayor Gainey Announces Challenges to Tax-Exempt Status of 26 Properties

On Tuesday, Mayor Ed Gainey announced that the city has filed challenges to the tax-exempt status of 26 properties that reportedly do not meet tax-exemption requirements. The 26 properties identified could potentially bring in an additional $3.5 million in revenue. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Allegheny County Council Members Calls for Investigation Colleague

Late last week, District 5 Allegheny County Councilmember Tom Duerr filed a complaint with the County Accountability, Conduct & Ethics Commission calling for an investigation of fellow Councilmember Bethany Hallam. In a letter to the Commission, Councilmember Duerr alleges that Councilmember Hallam agreed to resign her board seat on the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN),  in exchange for political favor. The Pittsburgh Union Progress has more.



Senator Fetterman to Return to D.C. Office the Week of April 17

After several weeks of receiving inpatient treatment for clinical depression, Senator John Fetterman is expected to return to the Senate the week of April 17. The Senator has been meeting regularly with staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Politico has more.


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