Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, March 9, 2023

March 9, 2023

Pennsylvania

Democratic Representative Zabel Resigns Following Allegations of Sexual Harassment; House Democrats Maintain Even More Precarious Majority

In a reversal from his Friday letter to House leadership, Democratic State Representative Mike Zabel of Delaware County tendered his resignation yesterday, effective March 16, following multiple allegations of sexual harassment and calls from several of his General Assembly colleagues to step down. Union lobbyist Andi Perez was the first to publicly speak out about Rep. Zabel’s inappropriate behavior, after which at least three others — including Republican State Representative Abby Major of Armstrong County — came forward with similar claims. House Democrats will maintain a narrow 101-100 majority heading into a May 16 special election to fill the former House seat of Republican State Senator Lynda Culver Schlehel. While a special election has not yet been called to replace Rep. Zabel, a May 16 election would comply with requisite election deadlines. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

State Representative Kenyatta Announces Run for Auditor General

This morning, State Representative and former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Malcolm Kenyatta announced his campaign for Pennsylvania auditor general, who serves as the fiscal watchdog for the Commonwealth. Former State House Speaker Mark Rozzi is reportedly also considering a run for the position. Whoever wins the Democratic primary would likely be running against Republican Tim DeFoor, Pennsylvania’s first Black auditor general. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

“Adult Use Cannabis Tax” on the Table for Future Shapiro Administration Budgets

On Tuesday, Governor Josh Shapiro unveiled fiscal documents that included revenue modifications his administration would be considering in the future. One such modification is an “adult use cannabis tax,” which would be implemented in 2025 should marijuana be legalized in Pennsylvania by then. While the potential reform is not a full-fledged plan, the Shapiro Administration sees such a tax as something that could help fund the State Police. PennLive has more.

Governor Shapiro’s Budget Proposal Accounts for RGGI

On the campaign trail, now Governor Josh Shapiro stated his concern that joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) — a 12-state, cap-and-trade program that his predecessor, former Governor Tom Wolf, had tried getting the Commonwealth to join for two years amid court challenges — would not provide an appropriate balance between reducing emissions and protecting Pennsylvania jobs. While not included explicitly in his Tuesday budget address, the Governor’s first budget proposal does account for the RGGI, should Pennsylvania be allowed to move forward with joining, which would raise an estimated $600 million over the next year. StateImpact Pennsylvania has more.

Governor Shapiro Nominees for Attorney General, Police Commissioner Approved by State Senate

Michelle Henry and Major Christopher Paris — Governor Josh Shapiro’s nominees for state attorney general and police commissioner, respectively — were both unanimously confirmed by the state Senate yesterday. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

 

Philadelphia

Petition Season Comes to a Close

Petition season has officially come to an end as of Tuesday, which was the deadline for municipal candidates to submit paperwork in order to be able to appear on the May 16 primary ballot. More than 90 candidates submitted nominating paperwork, including 13 candidates for mayor, 60 for City Council, four sheriff, and six for register of wills. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

Planning Stage for Proposed “Chinatown Stitch” Commences

Yesterday, city officials announced the planning stages for the “Chinatown Stitch,” a long-awaited solution to the division of Chinatown created by the construction of the Vine Street Expressway. The planning process will include a study, and the solicitation of community input via a project website and community-engagement meeting scheduled for April 26. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

 

Pittsburgh

Two Allegheny County Candidates Fail to Meet Petition Deadline

Human Services contractor and former congressional candidate Erin McClelland ended her bid for Allegheny County executive after failing to submit signatures to the county election division. Meanwhile, incumbent Councilmember Ricky Burgess of Point Breeze also did not file the necessary petition signatures, meaning that he will not be able to seek reelection this time around. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.

 

Federal

President Biden Unveils Budget Proposal in Philadelphia

This afternoon, President Joe Biden unveiled his budget proposal at the Finishing Trades Institute in Northeast Philadelphia. During his speech, President Biden called for a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to discuss the proposal. President Biden has yet to announce whether or not he will run for a second term. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more

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