News & Brews June 30, 2021

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Tensions flare over election audit funding in new state budget

It seems some disagreement is brewing over what’s actually in the budget passed by the General Assembly last week with strong bipartisan support. Republicans note the spending plan provides $3.1 million to the Office of the Auditor General to create a Bureau of Election Audits. But Democrats are urging Wolf to line-item veto this funding, claiming the budget contains no such language creating the bureau. A spokesperson for House Speaker Bryan Cutler noted, however, that Cutler “made that clear to all parties … involved that the increase in the AG’s funding was specifically for this purpose.”

SCOTUS ruling is ‘major win’ for PA energy sector

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Tuesday in favor of the PennEast pipeline is being hailed as “a landmark victory for energy infrastructure development” by the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. And Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Callahan noted, “This historic and precedent-setting decision reinforces the rule of law as it relates to the siting and construction of essential infrastructure, including and especially energy pipelines.” The ruling addressed whether eminent domain could be used to seize New Jersey land for the pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Luzerne County to New Jersey. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell, “The power of eminent domain needs to be used properly and carefully. It has to be for a legitimate use, and pipelines are a legitimate public use.”

Conservative, but not pro-Trump?

The Inquirer reports on a new study that suggests political activists’ views of whether someone is “conservative” are tied more closely to whether that someone supports Trump than to what that person’s policies are. Sen. Toomey, who is highlighted in the piece, however, thinks the study’s methodology falls short of being reliable. If you’re a political junkie, this one’s for you.

U.S. giving rose to highest levels in 2020

We’re often in awe of Americans’ generosity. So although this story doesn’t directly relate to Pennsylvania policy or politics, I wanted to highlight this post from our friends at the Philanthropy Roundtable, which notes, “The coronavirus pandemic spurred a tremendous year of giving according to new giving data. In total, Americans gave $471.44 billion away to charity. Charitable giving grew 5.1% in 2020 (or 3.8% when adjusted for inflation), marking it the highest year of charitable giving on record.” Amazing.

Wolf family business sold to Texas company

Wolf Home Products, the company Gov. Wolf inherited from his family to become part of the sixth generation to run it, has been sold to Texas-based PrimeSource Brands. After Wolf was elected governor in 2014, he put his assets into a blind trust. The following year, another company acquired a majority interest and Wolf was no longer a shareholder.

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