News & Brews June 23, 2021

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House passes election reform bill

By a 110-91 vote, the House last evening passed the Voting Rights Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (York County). Among other things, the bill would allow for early in-person voting, implement voter ID requirements, allow voters to correct ‘non-fatal defects’ on mail-in ballots, and allow for pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots. Gov. Wolf has threatened to veto the bill should it reach his desk.

Poll: Support for school choice is widespread

A new poll conducted by Echelon Insights confirms widespread support across party lines for school choice. The poll also found that “a majority of voters (55%) say that some or all of the funds the federal government set aside for K-12 education should be directed by parents, with 21% saying that none of the funds should be directed by parents and 24% unsure. Most voters in both parties agree parents should direct all or some of the funding.”

PSERS board member fires back at dissidents

Amid calls by some PSERS board members to oust the pension fund’s top leadership, one board member who stands with the leaders fired back in a letter sent to 4,500 local school board members. The Inquirer reports, “Eric DiTullio, a suburban Pittsburgh construction estimator and one of two representatives of school boards on the 15-member [PSERS] panel, blasted the dissidents, complaining that they had gone public attacking the fund leadership without first taking their case to their board colleagues.” DiTullio also defended PSERS’ controversial investment strategy. The Inquirer has more.

House could vote today on bill banning vaccine passports

The House could vote as early as today on SB618, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, which would ban the use of so-called “vaccine passports” by government entities and colleges receiving regular state funding. While the original version of the bill did not include private colleges and universities, a House-passed amendment extended the ban to these schools if they receive grants from the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. This includes nearly every college and university in the state. The measure, sans House amendments, passed the Senate earlier this month by a 29-20 vote.

Senate confirms Wolf’s picks for Education, Labor secretaries

Following the kerfuffle a while back in which Gov. Wolf withdrew all his nominations to lead key agencies, yesterday, the Senate confirmed Wolf’s picks for Secretary of Education and Secretary of Labor. PennLive reports that Education Secretary Noe Ortega was confirmed by a 44-6 vote, while Labor & Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier was confirmed by a 45-5 vote.

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