Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, May 25, 2023

May 25, 2023


Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt Questioned About Election Integrity, Public Confidence in First of Multiple Confirmation Hearings

On Wednesday, Governor Josh Shapiro’s nominee for Secretary of State Al Schmidt was questioned for three hours in the first in what is to be a multi-hearing confirmation process beginning with the Senate State Government Committee. The primary focus of the questioning was for Committee members to learn more about Schmidt’s vision for “strengthening public confidence in every election at every level.” PennLive has more.

House Passes Two of Three Gun Reform Laws

On Monday, the state House passed two gun reform bills — a “red flag” bill that would allow law enforcement to temporarily seize firearms from a person deemed an immediate threat to themselves or others and a bill to close the “gun show loophole” —while a third bill that would have required firearm owners to report lost or stolen guns to law enforcement failed. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

House Judiciary Committee Passes Bills to Broaden “Ethnic Intimidation” Definition

Yesterday, the state House Judiciary Committee passed a bill package that would expand the state’s definition of “ethnic intimidation” to include LGBTQ+ and disabled residents as a means of protecting these historically vulnerable groups. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

House Finance Committee Advances Property Tax Relief Bill

On Tuesday, the state House Finance Committee unanimously approved a bill that would expand eligibility for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program and increase the maximum allowable rebate by more than 50%. City & State Pennsylvania has more.

House Democrats Aim to Restore Powers to Environmental Quality Board

On Tuesday, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee advanced legislation that would restore the Environmental Quality Board’s ability to raise bond prices on conventional drillers in an effort to address the issue of Pennsylvania’s many abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells. Spotlight PA has more.

Group of State Representatives Launches Pennsylvania Progressive Caucus

On Tuesday, a group of 34 state representatives announced the formation of the new Pennsylvania Progressive Caucus, seeking to halt political corruption and curb the impact of corporate interests on legislation. PoliticsPA has more.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Likely Split Over Governor’s Powers to Institute Carbon-Pricing Plan

Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices appear to be split over whether the governor has the right to unilaterally institute and enforce — without approval from the state legislature — what opponents argue is essentially a tax on power plants for surpassing greenhouse gas emissions limits under a cap-and-trade carbon-pricing program enacted by former Governor Tom Wolf. The decision will ultimately determine whether the commonwealth will be able to join the multistate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Associated Press has more.

IFO Releases Initial Revenue Projections for FY 2023-24

The Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) has released its initial revenue projections for fiscal year 2023-24. Notably, the IFO is not anticipating a recession over the next two years, and is expecting inflation to drop to 3.2% in 2024. The report can be viewed here.



Democratic Mayoral Nominee Parker Hosts “Unity Breakfast”

Yesterday, Democratic mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker held a “unity breakfast” with the majority of her former competitors, emphasizing their shared values heading into the general election season. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

SEPTA Announces Upgrade to Bus, Trolley Fare Collection Boxes

SEPTA announced Tuesday that it will be spending $22 million to upgrade the increasingly obsolete fare collection boxes in its fleet of buses and trolleys. WHYY has more.

School District Expects to Find More Damaged Asbestos, Lead Paint As Inspections Ramp Up

The 2022-23 academic year marked the closure of several Philadelphia schools due to the discovery of damaged asbestos — one of these schools, Frankford High School, may remain closed into the next school year. Officials at the School District of Philadelphia are expecting to find more environmental hazards like damaged asbestos and lead paint with continued inspections in the coming weeks and months. WHYY has more.



Allegheny County Council Imposes Contribution Limit for County Candidates; County Executive Fitzgerald Expected to Veto

On Tuesday, Allegheny County Council voted 13-2 to limit the amount of money donors can contribute to candidates for county office. The bill is now headed to the desk of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who had previously indicated that he may veto it. WESA has more.

Smithfield Street Homeless Shelter to Close Next Month

In the midst of what many consider to be a citywide homelessness crisis, Allegheny County officials have announced the impending closure of the shelter at the Smithfield United Church of Christ. Mayor Ed Gainey and other Pittsburgh officials and partners are working toward solutions to address the needs of the increasing number of people living outside. PublicSource has more.

Pittsburgh City Council Confirms New Police Chief Scirotto

Larry Scirotto, Mayor Ed Gainey’s nominee to become Pittsburgh’s police chief, was unanimously confirmed by City Council on Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more.



State Senator Mastriano Expected to Launch U.S. Senate Campaign This Evening

Despite several high-profile detractors from his own party — whom he shrugged off earlier this week — state Senator Doug Mastriano is expected to make a “special announcement” regarding his candidacy for U.S. Senate at 8 p.m. on Facebook Live. YourErie has more.

As Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue, Republicans Doubt June 1 Deadline

Republicans in Congress — including Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus — are increasingly skeptical of the firmness of the June 1 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Hill has more.


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