PA Capitol Report: Top 10 Stories From Harrisburg Last Week
Here are the Top 10 Stories From Harrisburg last week–
1. MCall: PA Redistricting Experts Demand Better Map-Drawing Process; Partisan Interest Shouldn’t Define It
Carol Kuniholm, an expert on how the state’s elected leaders have drawn heavily criticized political maps, says the latest map-drawing process is off to a fair start — but the final result is still unknown.
— PA Cap-Star: 2 PA Lawmakers Working On Bipartisan Election Reform, Here’s What They’ve Proposed
— WITF: How To Get Involved In PA’s Pivotal Redistricting Process
— PG Guest Essay: Prison Gerrymandering In PA Must Be Addressed – PA League Of Women Voters
— Spotlight PA: 4 Takeaways From New PA Census Data And What It Means For Redistricting
— Inquirer: What New Census Data Tell Us About PA’s Politics – More Influence For Philly And Latinos, And A Shrinking White Vote
— PA Cap-Star: PA Democrats’ Constituencies Are Growing, How Does That Impact 2022?
— WPSU: State College Plans To Request A Census Recount, Suspecting Pandemic-Related Undercount
— AltoonaM: Census Numbers Show Shrinking Districts In Rural Areas
— Legislative Reapportionment Commission: meets August 24 on receive a report on census data
2. WHYY/AP: Republican State Senator’s Plan To Issue Nov. Election Subpoenas ‘Stopped’
[Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin)] A backer of former President Donald Trump’s effort to carry out an Arizona-style “forensic investigation” of Pennsylvania’s 2020 presidential election suggested Thursday that fellow Republicans in the state Senate are blocking his efforts.
— Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman Asks Conservative Republican Sen. Dush To Take Over Efforts To Audit Nov. Election Results
“It is deeply disappointing that Senator Mastriano has retreated from conducting a forensic investigation of the election in Pennsylvania, and it is discouraging to realize that he was only ever interested in politics and showmanship and not actually getting things done.” Sen. Corman asked Sen. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson) to take over the effort to review the November election.
— AP: Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman Orders New Senator To Take Charge Of ‘Election integrity’ Plan
— PA Cap-Star: Republicans Reassigning 4 Of Sen. Mastriano’s Staff In Squabble Over Election Probe
— AP: Fulton County Sues State Over Decertified Voting System
— LancasterOnline – Brad Bumsted: Why Were So Many Of The People Who Assaulted The U.S. Capitol On Jan. 6 From Pennsylvania?
— WITF: F&M Poll Shows A Majority Of Conservative Pennsylvanians View Jan. 6 Attack On U.S. Capitol Negatively
3. PG/MCall: 91% Of PA Residents Live In High Transmission Rate Areas; 2,128 Cases Added Friday
More than nine out of 10 Pennsylvanians live in a county with “high” community transmission, meaning that more than 100 cases per week are recorded for every 100,000 residents. The only two counties not in those categories are Forest and Sullivan counties.
— PG: PA Sees Biggest One-Day COVID Case Count In Months
— PennLive: Worry Grows Over Rise In COVID Cases Among Kids – What We Know
— Dept. of Health: Unveils Free COVID Testing Program For Schools
— AP: PA Teachers Unions: Schools Should Require Masks
— WPSU: Sen. Corman: Penn State Would Likely Face Efforts To Pull Their Funding If It Mandated COVID Vaccines
— TribLive/PennLive: As COVID Vaccination Mandates Gain Momentum, PA Health Care Workers Remain Largely Free To Decide
— MCall – Ford Turner: PA, Lehigh Valley Deaths From Imported Fentanyl Soar
4. New Franklin & Marshall Poll Results—
— Concern Over COVID-19 Increased 10 percentage points since June to 17 percent
— 63 percent support redistricting reform/ 65 percent favor an independent commission
— 78 percent favor campaign finance reform
— 80 percent support reducing the size of the General Assembly
— 33 percent favor John Fetterman in Democratic U.S. Senate Primary race
— 14 percent support Sean Parnell in Republican U.S. Senate Primary race
— 85 percent thought the Jan. 6 assault on U.S. Capitol was bad for democracy
5. ErieT: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits End Sept. 4 In PA, What To Know
State officials are reminding Pennsylvanians receiving unemployment compensation through federal pandemic assistance programs that they have less than three weeks before those benefits end. The final week of eligibility for payments, which are up to an extra $300 a week, is the week ending Sept. 4. The department said the state’s normal unemployment compensation program is not affected.
— MCall: Small Businesses In Lehigh Valley Struggle To Find Employees, Look Forward To End Of Extra Federal Unemployment Benefits
— MCall: Child Care Staffing Shortage Could Make It Harder For People To Go Back To Work
— WBTimes/AP: Landlords Look For An Exist Amid Federal Eviction Moratorium
6. Dept. Of Labor & Industry: PA Unemployment Rate Drops For 5th Consecutive Month To 6.6% In July
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was down three-tenths of a percentage point over the month to 6.6 percent in July. The U.S. rate fell one-half of a percentage point to 5.4 percent. The Commonwealth’s unemployment rate was 6.4 percentage points below its July 2020 level and the national rate was down 4.8 points over the year.
Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force – the estimated number of residents working or looking for work – decreased 16,000 over the month due to a drop in unemployment which fell for the fifth consecutive month. Employment rose for the fifth time in the past six months.
— AP: PA Jobless Rate Down, Payrolls Up 29,000 In July
7. PA Gaming Control Board: Reports Record Revenue In July
The PA Gaming Control Board posted reports that show that the combined total revenue in July 2021 generated from all forms of gaming regulated by the Board along with fantasy contests was $423,657,956. That represents the highest monthly revenue total to date for games regulated by the Board.
8. Public Interest Law Center: Trial Date For Pennsylvania School Funding Lawsuit To Begin Oct. 12
Trial in a historic lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s school funding system is now scheduled to begin on October 12. Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer announced the new trial date, a month later than the previous start date of September 9, during an August 17 pretrial conference. The later date will allow superintendents and other petitioners who filed the case against state officials additional time to provide up-to-date specifics to supplement the evidence and testimony gathered during earlier stages of the litigation.
— PennLive: Republican Lawmaker Calls His School Choice Bill A ‘Game Changer” With Its Focus On Students, Not Systems
9. PA Cap-Star: Philly Gun Violence Leaves Families In Pain, Fear
Principal Leyondo Dunn of Simon Gratz High School Mastery Charter is a big man who doesn’t seem easy to frighten. But, for a while, Dunn was afraid to pick up his own phone.
He was afraid he might get another call with more bad news — that another of his students had been shot or killed. Four had already died of gunshot wounds this school year, prior to the June 8 graduation of his class of 2021. Another 19 had been either wounded or fired upon during the school year.
— PG: Pittsburgh’s Rising Wave Of Gun Violence
— TribLive/AP: Federal Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Over Western PA Gun Club Restrictions
10. PA Cap-Star: PA Has Long Been A Home For Refugees, Will Afghans Be The Next To Find Shelter Here?
Five years ago, Noorulhaq Fazly decided to leave Afghanistan. He now works for the Jewish Family and Community Services, the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit which organized the call, finding employment for refugees.
With the fall of Kabul over the weekend, JFCS as well as refugee groups across the state and country are now preparing for an unknown number of people fleeing Afghanistan to escape potential retribution at the hands of the Taliban, an ultraconservative Islamist movement that ran the country under strict religious law in the 1990s.
— TribLive: Western PA Groups Prep For Fleeing Afghans Seeking To Resettle In Pittsburgh
— WITF: Central PA Organizations Preparing For Afghan Refugee Arrivals
— PennLive: Gov. Wolf: PA Will Welcome Afghan Refugees
— WITF: Berks County To Detain Asylum-Seeking Immigrant Women For Feds