News & Brews April 7, 2021
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Lawmakers take another shot at COVID limited liability bill
Yesterday, the House passed a bill to provide limited COVID liability protections to businesses, education institutions, and others. The vote was mostly party line, with almost all Republicans supporting the measure. The bill, which sponsor Rep. Torren Ecker (Adams and Cumberland counties) says is meant “to deter frivolous lawsuits that cannot be proven with legitimate evidence at trial but will still cause significant financial strain to the defendant,” is similar to that which Gov. Wolf vetoed last year. Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, which supports the bill, noted it was fair last year, and it’s fair now. “The only difference now,” he says, “is that … trial attorneys have emerged from the shadows” to oppose it.(From Capitolwire, paywall). Indeed, the trial bar, which donates heavily to Democrats, is lobbying against it.
Op-Ed: COVID teaching states to expand school choice
The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke looks at nine states that have expanded educational opportunity during the COVID pandemic. While PA isn’t (yet) on the list, we are among the “dozens of others” she mentions that “are considering measures to expand education freedom and opportunity to students.” Indeed, Republican lawmakers are introducing the Excellence in Education for All Act, which would dramatically increase educational opportunities available to Pennsylvania families.
Krasner makes the WSJ
When does a politician not love media attention? When it’s not flattering. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is the topic of a new Wall Street Journal editorial (paywall), noting that amid spikes in violent crime in the city under Krasner’s eye, Philly’s Democrat Committee has declined to endorse Krasner for re-election.
Husband of state Supreme Court candidate reports to prison
Charles McCullough—whose wife, Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, is seeking the Republican nomination to run for state Supreme Court—began serving a 2-1/2-to-5-year prison sentence yesterday in a “case involving taking money from an elderly woman’s trust fund to benefit several political campaigns and a charity connected to his wife.” McCullough is one of three Republicans seeking the nomination for the single vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Republican Party did not endorse her but is backing Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson. We at Commonwealth Partners have also endorsed Judge Brobson. (Scroll down to hear our recent News & Brews conversation with Judge Brobson!)
PSERS admits it’s under federal investigation
A few days ago, we shared reports that the FBI was probing the state’s largest pension fund. Well, yesterday, PSERS itself admitted for the first time that it’s under investigations. Here’s something potentially interesting. For the past two years, PSERS has budgeted $227K per year for legal services and fees. But for this year, PSERS asked for $352K, a 50% increase. The Inquirer notes, “PSERS did not immediately say why it expected last winter, before the investment performance error or the federal investigation were disclosed, that it would need more money for lawyers.” Hmmmm.
On May 18, VoteYesPA to save lives and livelihoods
On May 18, voters can approve two proposed constitutional amendments that would restore a legislative check and balance on Gov. Wolf’s (and any future governor’s) emergency powers. Check out VoteYesPA.com, which has resources including link to request a mail-in ballot, a VoteYesPA sign you can download and print, a sample email businesses can send encouraging others to vote yes on May 18, and more.