News & Brews July 7, 2021

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Turnpike tolls set to rise for 14th consecutive year

The PA Turnpike Commission has approved a 5% toll hike for 2022, marking the 14th consecutive year drivers will pay more to drive the most expensive toll road in the world. But don’t worry, according to the spin from the PA Turnpike Commission, the new toll rates “will reflect the lowest increase in six years.” See? You’re saving money—government style! What a bargain! (And truly, if you have’t yet read Matt Brouillette’s piece on the real reason behind rising turnpike tolls, read it here, or listen here.)

Election reform efforts done until 2023?

After Gov. Wolf vetoed HB 1300, the Voting Rights Protection Act, last week, House State Government Committee Chair Seth Grove (York County) said he will not take up election reform again until 2023, when Pennsylvania has a new governor. “That window’s closed. It’s not fair to voters and the counties to do anything in the elections at this point,” Grove said. “ … So we’ve got to come back, see who the new governor is in 2023, and we’ll make another run at it.” Relatedly, the Altoona Mirror Editorial Board explained why Wolf was wrong to veto the bill.

Carla Sands enters U.S. Senate race

In what’s being viewed as a potential shakeup to the Republican primary field, Carla Sands, former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark in President Trump’s administration, announced her campaign for U.S. Senate yesterday. Sands grew up in Camp Hill and worked as a chiropractor before marrying real estate mogul Fred Sands. After her husband’s death in 2015, she became CEO of his company, Vintage Capital. Watch her campaign launch video here.

Diving into PSERS’ real estate ambitions

How amazing to learn this morning that I own “pistachios in California, citrus in Florida, hotels, retail malls and mobile home parks across 18 states.” And guess what? You do, too! Yep, apparently PA taxpayers are the proud owners of all this thanks to decades of purchases by our state’s largest pension fund, the Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS). What’s all this have to do with pensions? And, more interestingly, with an ongoing FBI investigation? PennLive takes a look. (And here I thought I was living large because I just bought a new microwave. Clearly, I need to aim higher.)

Parents must decide by July 15 if kids should repeat grade

Under a new state law, parents have the sole authority to decide whether their children should repeat a grade due to COVID learning loss, but they must make this decision by July 15. The law, which applies only to the 2020-21 school year, passed the Legislature with unanimous support, and Gov. Wolf signed it last week. PennLive has more.

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