News & Brews April 28, 2021

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Dems seek to bypass Legislature and have courts draw congressional map (again)

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), founded by former president Barack Obama and his former Attorney General Eric Holder, filed a lawsuit in PA this week, asking the court to prepare to hijack the Legislature’s role (again) and draw our congressional maps. Unlike state legislative maps, which are drawn by a Legislative Reapportionment Commission, our congressional maps are drawn by the Legislature and pass just like any other legislation (House and Senate, and then to the governor for approval). But NDRC apparently is hoping for a repeat of 2018 when the court tossed our map and imposed one of its own. This isn’t surprising, as litigation has always been one of NDRC’s stated tools. And we expect they’ll use it extensively this year as their aim to flip 13 legislative chambers nationwide last year (including here in PA) failed spectacularly. They flipped exactly zero.

PA readies for redistricting ‘musical chairs’

While we’re on the topic of redistricting, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat looks at the game of redistricting ‘musical chairs’ that’s set to begin now that PA will officially lose one congressional seat thanks to our lagging population growth.

PA senate passes bill to require legislative approval for new bridge tolls

In the face of Gov. Wolf’s administration trying to unilaterally impose tolls on nine major bridges statewide, the Senate yesterday passed a bill that would require Legislative approval before the Department of Transportation simply foists new tolls on Pennsylvanians. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc (Bedford, Cambria, and Clearfield counties), would require PennDOT to release more information about its proposals, advertise them publicly, allow for public comment, and garner approval from both the House and Senate as well as the governor. The measure now heads to the House. Wolf opposes the bill. Meanwhile, PennDOT recently claimed the proposed tolls wouldn’t be permanent. Yes, because we have a plethora of examples of government imposing taxes, fees, or tolls and then eliminating them…. actually no, we don’t.

Do we really need all these regulations?

One positive thing to come from this past year is the temporary suspension of many government regulations. But the question arises: If these regulations could be suspended for a time during COVID, do we really need them at all? (Spoiler alert: “No” is a pretty safe answer here.). The AP looks at efforts to make some temporary regulatory reprieves permanent.

Senate OKs constitutional change to how LG is selected

Yesterday, the Senate voted 43-4 in favor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would change how Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is selected. Currently, voters choose candidates for governor and lieutenant governor separately during the primary election. Under the proposed amendment introduced by Sen. Dave Argall (Berks and Schuylkill counties), gubernatorial candidates would choose their LG running mate after the primary election, with approval required from their party’s state committee. The amendment passed both the House and Senate last legislative session and would need to pass both chambers again this session before it heads to voters for their up or down vote.

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, which has resources including a 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.

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