News & Brews October 5, 2021

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Shapiro abruptly cancels presser targeting pipeline company

Filed under, “Things that make you go hmmm,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro abruptly canceled a press conference yesterday that was intended “to announced charges in a major environmental crimes case.” As reason for the cancellation, the AG’s office said, “Today’s event will be temporarily postponed due to new information received by the Office of Attorney General this morning. We must do our due diligence and review. We will have more to say on this shortly.” The Delaware Valley Journal reports that “Shapiro’s office had set up a YouTube page to stream the presser with the headline, ‘AG Shapiro Charges Mariner East Developer With Environmental Crimes.’ But it suddenly pulled the page — and the plug.” Shapiro, who is expected to announce a run for governor, campaigned for AG on a platform of targeting natural gas companies, and this abrupt cancellation raises the question of whether the press conference was politically motivated.

This year’s judicial elections explained

WHYY breaks down the upcoming elections for Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth courts. Who’s running? What does each court do? Where are the candidates getting their money? Read the piece here. Meanwhile, we at Commonwealth Partners have endorsed in these elections. Check out our picks here.

Biden’s ‘Build back better’ plan would cost PA big

The Delaware Valley Journal reports that according to an analysis from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), President Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending plan would increase PA taxpayers’ share of the national debt by $176 billion while killing more than 200,000 jobs over the next 10 years. (If you’d like to see the actual state-by-state analysis from TPPF, just reply to this email.)

Op-Ed: Legalizing recreational marijuana in PA is ‘inevitable’

Senator Mike Regan (Cumberland and York counties) has an op-ed in the Center Square announcing his support for legalizing recreational marijuana for adults. He says his position “may come as a surprise to some,” but he writes that “legalization of adult-use marijuana in Pennsylvania is inevitable. As chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee and a former member of law enforcement, rather than sit idly by and allow others to shape the legislation, I am stepping up to be a leader on the issue….” Inevitability aside, last year, our board member Rob Shearer had an op-ed noting, “Lost amid the legalization hullabaloo is the chaos unfettered pot will wreak on labor practices, workplace litigation, employer liability, health care costs and more.”Check out his cautionary piece here.

House passes bill to increase transparency on disease outbreaks

Yesterday, the House voted 113-87 in favor of amending the Disease Prevention and Control Act of 1955 to make information under the Act subject to our state’s Right-to-Know Law (RTKL). The Wolf administration has repeatedly used this Act to incorrectly deny RTKL requests over the past 20 months and hide data from the public. (I had at least two requests denied on this basis, only to have the Office of Open Records overturn the denial on appeal). Indeed, Capitolwire reports (paywall) that according to a letter from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association in support of the bill, “The current law inhibits transparency, which is paramount when public safety is in jeopardy.” The measure now heads to the Senate.

Jury picked in Johnny Doc case, and a glimpse of his political power

The jury has been selected in the bribery trial of Philly union leader John Dougherty and Philly Councilman Bobby Henon, The Inquirer reports that the trial is expected to last five or six weeks, and it has “the potential to shape the landscape of Philadelphia politics, organized labor, and public corruption prosecutions for years to come.” Meanwhile, now’s a good time to re-share a handy dandy infographic we put together showing Johnny Doc’s political influence statewide (current as of February of this year).

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