PA Capitol Report: Top 12 Stories From Harrisburg Last Week
Here are the Top 12 Stories From Harrisburg last week—
House lawmakers of the chamber’s powerful State Government committee are starting to get ideas and input on their once-in-a-decade task of redrawing Pennsylvania’s congressional districts. In an attempt to open the drafting process to the public, the State Government committee is holding comment hearings across the state and allowing idea submissions through a special website.
— PA Cap-Star Guest Essay: The Philly Suburbs Grew Over The Last Decade, That’s A Problem For Republicans
— Fair Districts PA: Winners Of Statewide Voting District Mapping Contest Announced
Fourteen PA Republican lawmakers have filed a new lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law, calling it unconstitutional and asking for it to be thrown out. The legal challenge was filed just before midnight Tuesday in the state Commonwealth Court.
It is the latest attempt by Republicans to invalidate the 2019 law that Republican lawmakers almost unanimously supported.
The central claim of the lawsuit is that the law — which allowed no-excuse voting by mail — violates a constitutional provision that requires lawmakers to provide a way for people to vote if they are unable to vote in person for specific reasons.
— City & State: 4 Election ‘Reform’ Bills Lawmakers Could Consider This Fall
Ten months after the November 2020 election, and seven since the results were certified, a Pennsylvania Senate committee expects to launch an investigation into the electoral process next week. And its members are soliciting the public for help.
— WHYY – Katie Meyer: Republican Senators Push Forward With Vague Idea of 2020 Election Audit
Senators Judy Ward (R-Blair), Patrick Stefano (R-Fayette), and Kristin-Phillips Hill (R-York), are leading the latest effort to do an end-run around Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent executive action. In a Wednesday memo seeking support from colleagues, the lawmakers announced plans for an amendment that would tie the state health secretary’s response powers to an existing public health disaster emergency declaration.
— PG Editorial: It’s About Time – School Mask Mandate Is Necessary In PA
— MCall – Ford Turner: Battle Over Masks In Schools Heads To Legislature
— WilliamsportS: COVID Cases On The Rise In Area School Children
— Spotlight PA: Your Questions About Climbing COVID Cases In PA Answered
— MCall – Paul Muschick: Why Did Gov. Wolf Put School Boards Thru Hell If He Planned To Overrule Them On Masks?
Nche Zama is a 65-year old heart surgeon who lives in the Poconos. He immigrated to the United States from the central African country of Cameroon at age 14, before studying medicine, including at Harvard University. Zama is a newcomer to politics, but argues his fresh face and backstory will help him break into a crowded field.
— Spotlight PA: PA Senate Gives Public Online Access To Spending Records
— PG – Robert Swift: House Hearing Explores State’s Worker Shortage
Both the majority and minority chairmen of the House Commerce Committee agreed Wednesday that worker shortages are slowing Pennsylvania’s economic recovery from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.
— Dept. Of Labor & Industry: Help Available As Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits End
Pennsylvania collected $2.6 billion in General Fund revenue in August, which was $135.5 million, or 5.6 percent, more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $5.3 billion, which is $132.4 million, or 2.6 percent, above estimate.
— Independent Fiscal Office: August Tax Collections $71,5 Million Over Estimates
— YorkDR Guest Essay: Manufactured Crisis Over Critical Race Theory Distracts From Real Problems In PA Schools – Rep. Bullock (D-Philadelphia)
— ScrantonT Editorial: If Talk Were School Property Tax Reform, PA Would Have The Best System In The Nation
One of the most disruptive storms in the region’s weather history was blamed Thursday for killing five people, inciting record flood levels, spawning at least seven tornadoes — one of them spinning at 150 mph — and leaving some people disbelieving what they had experienced.
— WBTimes: Cleanup Begins After Record Rain Storm
— LancasterOnline: Ida Swamps Lancaster County
— AltoonaM: Floods Continue To Impact Blair County Region
Gov. Wolf announced Wednesday 43 Pennsylvania Air National Guard members have been activated to support Afghan ally refuge efforts in the United States. The airmen, who are on federal orders through the end of September, will provide general base support such as security, firefighting and ground transportation duties as needed at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, N.J.; Volk Field, Wis.; and at the Pentagon, Wash. D.C.
Juliann Bortz was one of the first Pennsylvania priest abuse survivors to come forward, reaching out for help shortly after the Boston scandal broke in January 2002. Sixteen years later, she testified before a Pennsylvania grand jury that ultimately determined in an August 2018 report that 301 “predator priests” had abused more than 1,000 victims.
She thought by now the Pennsylvania Legislature would have provided victims with a path to justice. But her hopes are increasingly fleeting amid a stalemate among lawmakers and a botched referendum to allow victims to sue their abusers.
The COVID pandemic has laid bare chronic oversight failures in homes that account for half of all COVID-19 deaths statewide. Medical professionals and memory care experts say the chaos confirmed what they already knew: Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s most elderly states, is unprepared for another kind of public health emergency — this one with no vaccine, few preventative measures, and its own set of dire economic implications.
The number of horse deaths at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Bucks County continues unabated. Thirty-one horses died at Parx during the first six months of the year, according to data released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.