News & Brews September 2, 2021

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Regulatory commission approves RGGI

Following hours of testimony, yesterday the Independent Regulatory Review Commission by a 3-2 vote approved Gov. Wolf’s move to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The AP reports that “[t]he vote allows Pennsylvania, through regulation, to join [RGGI].” Even acknowledging that joining RGGI will cost jobs and cause some pain, the majority on the commission believe Pennsylvanians losing their jobs will simply adapt and learn a new skill. I kid you not. Republican Rep. Jim Struzzi (Indiana County) and Democrat Rep. Pam Snyder (Greene, Fayette, and Washington counties) were among those speaking passionately against joining RGGI. Read Rep. Struzzi’s statement responding to the vote here. (I haven’t yet seen a statement from Rep. Snyder, but you can watch her testimony here.) Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf praised the vote.

Senate expenses now posted online

As promised, for the first time Senate expenses are now posted online for the public to view. Included in the info are expenses for each individual senator as well as expenses for the Chief Clerk of the Senate and the Secretary of the Senate. Spotlight PA observes that “the records weren’t uploaded in a way that allows the public to quickly and meaningfully search or analyze the spending,” but notes its’s still “a win for taxpayers.”Expenses were posted yesterday for July, and the page will be updated monthly.

New contract for Philly teachers’ union includes 3 years of raises

The Philadelphia Inquirer shares some details of the new tentative contract between the city and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT). Among other things, the contract raises pay by 9% over three years for teachers, counselors, nurses, and support staff, while not increasing the cost of healthcare for PFT members. One detail missing is how much the new contract will cost taxpayers. The contract comes after the union fought to keep schools closed last year.

‘Mainline madness’: How CRT is impacting one PA school district

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Michael Torres penned an investigative piece for City Journal on the battle over “the infusion of education with identity politics” taking place in affluent Lower Merion Township outside of Philadelphia. Torres writes that parents felt “that their sense of autonomy as parents had been violated, that their trust in public schools has been betrayed, and that their children are being used as pawns in a cultural revolution.” You’ll want to read this one.

Several lawmakers file suit against mail-in voting law

A group of lawmakers has filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court challenging our 2019 mail-in voting law. The group, most of whom voted in favor of the law, claims that allowing no-excuse mail-in voting violates our state constitution, which says lawmakers must provide a way for voters to cast their ballots if they can’t vote in person for particular reasons.

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