News & Brews June 8, 2021

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Senate committee advances school choice bills

Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee advanced two measures that would dramatically expand educational opportunity for Pennsylvania’s students. The first, SB1, sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin, would lift caps on tax credit scholarships and improve charter school opportunities. The second, SB733, sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward, would establish education opportunity accounts for students with special needs, empowering parents to choose better learning options for their children. The PSEA, of course, went apoplectic, complaining schools would lose money, despite the fact that they got about $5 billion extra in COVID relief funds from the feds.

House could soon act on resolution ending parts of Wolf’s disaster declaration

The House could soon vote on the resolution ending parts of Gov. Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration. The resolution passed out of committee on May 25. While ending parts of the declaration, the resolution extends until October 1 the waiver of hundreds of regulations temporarily suspended due to COVID. One question, however, surrounding the timeline of the resolution vote is that the May18 primary election results, in which voters gave the Legislature the power to end a disaster declaration, have not yet been certified and are not expected to be certified until at least Friday.

Blue SEPA counties had head start on private election grants

We’ve heard about the private election funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life that went mostly to counties trending Democrat. But Broad + Liberty investigative reporter Todd Shepherd just uncovered that several blue counties had a head start in applying for these grants, as the PA “Department of State communicated directly with Democrat-leaning counties in the Southeast regarding multimillion dollar grants for the 2020 election. These communications happened as other counties in the state remained ignorant of, or were not not invited to participate in, the application process until the following month.” This is a story you’ll want to read in full.

Gov’t trying to figure out how to spend $10B (ummm)

I mean, what do you do with a story like this? “Hey, we the government have $10 billion extra bucks to spend. What shall we do with it?” The combination of $3 billion more than expected in tax revenues and more than $7 billion from federal COVID relief has some lawmakers salivating over all the goodies they can spend taxpayer dollars on, including raising the government-mandated minimum wage, and establishing government-mandated paid sick and family leave. Because, you know, government never met a dollar it didn’t want to spend on itself rather than return to taxpayers. Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation offered a better blueprint for using some of these funds.

Who’s running for governor (so far)?

Spotlight PA gives a brief run down of candidates who have declared for governor thus far, along with candidates whose names are in the mix but have not yet officially declared. Key takeaway: It’s early. This field will grow and change.

Butler v. Wolf: The latest (again)

Yesterday, I shared that the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) had asked the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for permission to participate in oral argument on behalf of businesses in the case challenging Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders. Not surprisingly, Gov. Wolf does not welcome NJBIA’s participation. Yesterday, the Wolf administration submitted its opposition to NJBIA’s request.

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