Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 7, 2024

March 7, 2024


PAyback Program Successfully Addresses Permit, Fee Application Backlogs

Governor Shapiro’s trademark PAyback program — which guarantees timely processing of state permits or fee refunds — has significantly reduced processing times in the Departments of State and Environmental Protection, with only a few permits not meeting the turnaround timeframe. PennLive has more.

State Officials Prepare for Busy Primary, General Election Season

Amidst ongoing disagreements in the legislature over election law reforms, Pennsylvania election officials are preparing for more court battles ahead of a likely Biden-Trump rematch. During an address to the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania this week, Governor Josh Shapiro emphasized their crucial role in managing elections, advocating for the new Election Threats Security Task Force unveiled last week. In other election-related news, Spotlight PA has an explainer on the electronic tablets that will be making their first appearance in some Pennsylvania counties during this April’s primary elections.

Statewide Row Offices Important “Stepping Stones” for Some Pennsylvania Politicians

In addition to selecting the nation’s next president, Pennsylvanians will be electing a new attorney general, treasurer, and auditor general this November. Pennsylvania’s statewide row offices have historically served as stepping stones to higher political offices, including the governorship. GoErie has more.

House Democratic Policy Committee Holds Hearing on Stagnant Minimum Wage

On Wednesday, workers testified during a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on the stagnant minimum wage in Pennsylvania, highlighting personal struggles and advocating for an increase, with some proposing a raise to $18 an hour and advocating for the repeal of the preemption law preventing local minimum wage adjustments. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Proposed Increase in Transit Funding Would Benefit Both Urban, Rural Counties

State Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll stated Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed $283 million transit funding increase would benefit all Pennsylvania counties and address historical disparities between rural areas and urban transit agencies. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

State Trust to Privately Review How Counties Spent Millions in Opioid Settlement Dollars

Pennsylvania counties will be required to disclose how they spent their allocation of opioid settlement funds, with the Pennsylvania Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust planning to review the information privately, despite a court order mandating compliance with the state’s Sunshine Act. Spotlight PA has more.

Education Officials Detail $1B Plan for Fair School Funding

State legislators questioned Pennsylvania Education Secretary Khalid Mumin about Governor Shapiro’s $1.1 billion proposal to equalize funding for public schools, with some Republican lawmakers raising concerns about potential forced spending increases for high-performing districts and mergers for rural ones. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Pennsylvania Employees’ Pension Reins in Private-Equity Commitment Plans

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System is reducing its investment into private equity due to market challenges, aiming for $800 million in new investments in 2024 compared to the previous target of $1.1 billion, reflecting a difficult year for liquidity and aiming to balance overexposure without missing out on potential returns. The Wall Street Journal has more.

IFO Releases Annual Pennsylvania Electricity Update

The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) has released its annual Pennsylvania Electricity Update for 2023. Pennsylvania remained the top exporter of electricity across all states in 2023. The report can be viewed here.



Parker Administration Will Not Fund Syringe Exchange With Opioid Settlement Dollars

Mayor Cherelle Parker has announced that her administration will not allocate any of the $180 million opioid settlement funds for services facilitating safer drug use, potentially impacting syringe exchange programs and demonstrating a marked divergence from former Mayor Jim Kenney’s approach to the issue. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Mayor Parker to Give First Budget Proposal Next Week

Mayor Cherelle Parker will present her first budget plan next week, which is expected to focus largely on her campaign promises to make Philadelphia safer, cleaner, and greener. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

PHS Brings “United by Flowers” to the Pennsylvania Convention Center 

United by Flowers, the 2024 iteration of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s (PHS) annual Philadelphia Flower Show, will be showcasing vibrant floral arrangements and landscape designs at the Pennsylvania Convention Center through March 10. WHYY has more.



Allegheny County Updates Healthy Housing Rules; Advocates Call for Further Reform

On Wednesday, Allegheny County’s housing standards regulations were updated for the first time in more than 25 years to enhance safety and clarify roles, but do not go far enough to protect vulnerable tenants according to some advocates, prompting calls for further reform. PublicSource has more.

Pittsburgh City Council Tentatively Approves Mayor Gainey’s $8.3M Homelessness Reduction Plan

This week, Pittsburgh City Council tentatively approved an $8.3 million investment in expanding affordable housing for the homeless and at-risk groups, though some members criticized the administration’s allocation of funds and alleged that there was a lack of communication. WESA has more.

Pittsburgh Officials Commit to Reducing Traffic-Related Deaths

Pittsburgh city officials and community leaders gathered Monday afternoon to advocate for citywide commitment to reducing traffic deaths by implementing traffic-calming measures, doubling the city’s investment in these projects, and prioritizing areas with the highest rates of traffic-related accidents and injuries. WESA has more.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to Expand Evening Hours

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is expanding its operating hours, with most branches open until 8 p.m. at least three nights a week. The expansion, funded by the Allegheny Regional Asset District and adding a total of 93 hours of service per week system-wide, is one of the largest in its history. WESA has more.



Pennsylvanian Officials to Attend State of the Union Address

This evening, President Joe Biden will give his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, with several officials set to accompany Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, including Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker and Darlington Township Board of Supervisors Chair Mike Carreon. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

U.S. Sen. Fetterman Introduces Federal Version of State Whole-Home Repairs Program

This week, U.S. Senator John Fetterman introduced a federal version of Pennsylvania’s bipartisan Whole-Home Repairs Act, aiming to expand the successful state program nationwide to address the housing shortage. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

Trump Draws in More Large-Dollar Donors Than Other Presidential Candidates in PA

Large-dollar donors in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania favor former President Donald Trump over other presidential candidates, with his campaign receiving $2.4 million compared to $992,000 for Nikki Haley and $2.1 million for President Joe Biden. Axios Philadelphia has more.

SCOTUS Ruling on Trump Ballot Removal Could Also Protect Rep. Perry

The U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) ruling protecting former President Donald Trump from ballot disqualification also potentially benefits U.S. Representative Scott Perry, who has faced similar challenges to his candidacy in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

MacDonald Withdraws From Democratic Campaign, Launches Republican Write-In Campaign for PA-12

Earlier this week, U.S. House candidate Laurie MacDonald withdrew from the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District to launch a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination, alleging corruption within the Democratic Party. PoliticsPA has more


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