News & Brews May 3, 2021
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PA Supreme Court will pick redistricting chair
After the Legislative Reapportionment Commission’s four current members (the top two Republicans and top two Democrats in the General Assembly) deadlocked on choosing a fifth member to chair the committee, the selection will fall to the PA Supreme Court. Spotlight PA reports this is not really unusual: “The selection of the chair has fallen to the court in almost every decade since the Legislative Reapportionment Commission was first convened in 1971 to draw the state’s House and Senate maps.” The court has until May 30 to name its pick. The commission is responsible for redrawing state House and Senate maps following the latest census.
Are our state legislative maps gerrymandered?
Speaking of redistricting, Spotlight PA also dove into our state legislative maps to ask whether they are truly gerrymandered as some suggest. Feel free to read the piece, of course, but we prefer this Wall Street Journal editorial’s tongue-in-cheek description of the redistricting process (and of the media): “If you’ve been reading the press, you know what to expect: Republicans will gerrymander relentlessly to squeeze more GOP House seats out of red and purple states, while Democrats will model high-minded good governance and draw maps without regard to politics. Ok, maybe not exactly.”
Lawmakers call for an investigation into major DOH data breach
Following last week’s breaking news that a Department of Health contact tracing vendor leaked the private information of more than 70,000 Pennsylvanians, lawmakers will hold a news conference at 10am this morning detailing the breach and calling for an independent investigation. Rep. Jason Ortitay (Washington and Allegheny counties), House Majority Whip Donna Oberlander (Clarion, Armstrong, and Forest counties), and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (Centre and Mifflin counties) will lead the conference, which will be live-streamed at RepOrtitay.com, RepOberlander.com and PAHouseGOP.com.
Editorial: PA should eliminate its inheritance tax
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board wrote in favor of legislation sponsored by Reps. Valerie Gaydos (Allegheny County) and Greg Rothman (Cumberland County) that would eliminate our state’s inheritance tax. We are one of only six states to have such a tax at the state level (there is a federal inheritance tax), and Gaydos notes the legislation would “ensure that inheritance goes to the family or heirs it was meant to go to and help preserve individuals who receive an inheritance from ending up with a tax bill at a time when they are also mourning the loss of their loved one.”
Podcast: Leaving unions behind?
Our friend David Osborne, CEO of Americans for Fair Treatment, joined the Washington Times’ Bold and Blunt podcast to answer the question of whether it’s time to leave unions behind. And does the answer vary depending on whether we’re talking about private unions or government unions? Click here to listen. (David’s segment begins at the 15:45 mark.)
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 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.