News & Brews June 24, 2021

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House votes to ban vaccine passports

Yesterday, the House voted on party lines to ban state and local governments, including school districts, as well as colleges and universities from requiring vaccine passports as a condition of service. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill and Sen. Judy Ward, also would block the use of taxpayer funds to develop a COVID vaccine passport app. Since the bill was amended in the House, it now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

Senate advances voter ID constitutional amendment

Yesterday, the Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment (SB735) that would implement a voter ID requirement. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Judy Ward, passed 30-20, with Democrat Lisa Boscola and Independent John Yudichak joining all Republicans to vote in favor. Lawmakers have opted to go the route of attempting to amend the state constitution given Gov. Wolf has pledged to veto any voter ID legislation. As SB735 is a constitutional change, it would need to pass the full House this session and then pass both the House and Senate again next legislative session before heading to voters for approval.

Jersey high court upholds charter expansion 

Three cheers for Jersey! And believe me, it’s rare that I get to say that about my home state when it comes to politics or policy. But in a huge win for educational opportunity and the thousands of students served by charter schools, the New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously backed the expansion of seven charter schools in Newark, NJ to serve thousands of additional students. The suit against the charters had been brought by the teachers union-funded Education Law Center, which claimed the expansion of these charters would harm Newark’s traditional public schools. The court didn’t buy it. Andthousands of students now stand to benefit despite the unions’ best efforts to hold them back. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has more (paywall).

Op-Ed: For real lobbying reform, Harrisburg must look in the mirror

Did you know that when you pay taxes, some of those tax dollars are used to hire lobbyists who fight to raise your taxes even more? Ridiculous, but true. Yours truly has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty explaining why real lobbying reform demands that lawmakers end the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Butler v. Wolf: Gov. argues challenge to his orders is now moot

In the latest development in Butler v. Wolf, the case challenging Gov. Wolf’s business shutdown orders and capacity restrictions, yesterday, the Wolf administration submitted a letter to the court arguing the case is now moot given the General Assembly has terminated Wolf’s disaster declaration. The letter also offers as an added reason for mootness the fact that the Secretary of Health has “lifted all challenged orders issued by the Department of Health as of May 31, 2021.” Now, I’m no lawyer, but it seems that since Wolf has argued he could still issue some orders without the disaster declaration, his latest letter is a bit contradictory. I welcome feedback from any of you brilliant legal minds out there.

PSERS consultants facing lawsuit over mess

A Delaware County public school teacher has filed a lawsuit against two PSERS consultants—Aon Investments USA and Hamilton Lane Advisors, Inc.—over the mess at the pension fund that led to about 100,000 workers being told they didn’t have to pay more in pension contributions—then being told they did. The lawyers are aiming for the suit to be a class action suit on behalf of these 100,000 workers. The Inquirer has more.

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