Pennsylvania Perspective for Thursday, May 9, 2024

May 9, 2024


Gov. Shapiro to Sign Bill Making Xylazine Controlled Substance

Governor Josh Shapiro plans to sign legislation criminalizing the misuse of the animal tranquilizer xylazine, which is frequently mixed with illicit opioids, aiming to address its contribution to a rising number of human overdose deaths. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.


State Senate Passes $3B Tax-Cutting Plan

On Tuesday, the state Senate passed a $3 billion tax-cutting plan along party lines. The legislation is a counterproposal to Gov. Shapiro’s budget proposal and aims to redirect state sales tax revenue toward tax reductions. The Associated Press has more.

State Senate Committee Passes Lifeline Scholarship Program

On Tuesday, the state Senate Education Committee approved the “Lifeline Scholarship Program” — a controversial program that held up the budget process last year — which would provide vouchers of up to $10,000 for standard education and $15,000 for special education. WESA has more.

State House Committee Passes Rule Change on Incapacitated Lawmakers

On Wednesday, the state House Rules Committee passed a rule change that would allow for a new process to remove incapacitated lawmakers, drawing objections from Republican leaders due to concerns about transparency and potential misuse. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

State House Rejects Gun Safety Bills by Single Vote

On Tuesday, the state House narrowly rejected two bills aimed at banning machine gun conversion devices and curbing gun trafficking, prompting criticism from advocacy groups and highlighting the ongoing debate over gun control in the state. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Fewer Mail-in Ballots Rejected for Technicalities During PA Primary Election

Pennsylvania election officials reported a significant decrease in the rejection rate of mail-in ballots for technical errors in last month’s primary election after implementing a redesigned ballot envelope and instructions. The Associated Press has more.

Judges Rule on Ballots in HD-117 Primary Race

Judges have ruled that disputed mail-in ballots, including six in the 117th House District, will count, maintaining Jamie Walsh’s three-vote lead over incumbent Representative Mike Cabell. Thirty-six votes are still in dispute. WVIA has more.

Democratic Voter Registrations Decline as Third-Party, Independent Registrations Rise

Pennsylvania has seen a significant narrowing of the gap between Democratic and Republican voter registrations, with independents and third-party registrations also on the rise, reflecting shifting political dynamics and potential disillusionment with major parties. Spotlight PA has more.

Advocates Urge State Senate to Approve Public Transportation Funding Increase

On Wednesday, transit agency officials and lawmakers came together to advocate for Gov. Shapiro’s proposal to allocate an additional 1.75% of state sales tax revenue to public transportation, emphasizing the looming fiscal challenges transit systems across the Commonwealth are facing. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star has more.

Demand for PA Student Teacher Stipend Outpaces Current Funding

Demand for Pennsylvania’s student teacher stipend program has surpassed available funding, prompting calls for an increase from $10 million to $75 million to address teacher shortages and provide support for aspiring educators. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Police, Outreach Workers Clear Kensington Homeless Encampment

This week, police and outreach workers cleared a homeless encampment on Kensington Avenue. City Councilmember Quetcy Lozada (District 7), who represents a large section of Kensington, views the action as just the beginning of addressing deep-rooted problems in the neighborhood, noting existing challenges in connecting people with services. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.

City Council Recognizes Importance of Black Teachers

Philadelphia City Council passed two resolutions this week acknowledging the importance of having Black teachers in the classroom. Founder and CEO of the Center For Black Educator Development Sharif El-Mekki applauded the resolutions. Philadelphia is in the midst of a teacher shortage.

Thomas Jefferson University Names New President

Thomas Jefferson University named Susan Aldridge the institution’s first female president. The seasoned higher education leader, who has been serving as interim president, aims to steer the university through a new era of growth and innovation. The Philadelphia Inquirer has more.



Allegheny County Health Board Approves Housing Advocacy Committee

Allegheny County’s Board of Health has preliminarily approved the creation of a Housing Advisory Committee, sparking a 30-day public comment period and garnering support from housing advocates for potential broader changes in rental housing regulations. WESA has more.

Pittsburgh City Council Passes Tax Breaks to Incentivize Downtown Development

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation offering tax breaks to downtown developers based on job creation or the number of  low-income housing units created. WESA has more.



Presidential, U.S. Senate Races Competitive in PA

A recent survey conducted by the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion shows former President Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden by a narrow margin in Pennsylvania, while U.S. Senator Bob Casey maintains a slight lead over David McCormick. The poll also found that Gov. Shapiro’s approval rating is on the rise, and concerns about election integrity persist despite a majority agreeing that the 2020 election results in Pennsylvania were accurate. PoliticsPA has more.


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