News & Brews October 26, 2021

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PA Supreme Court race fundraising tops $5 million (and counting)

Spotlight PA gives a run-down of the support both Supreme Court candidates are getting. Democrat Maria McLaughlin has brought in the vast majority of her money from trial lawyers and labor unions (no shocker there). Meanwhile, our connected political action committee, Commonwealth Leaders Fund, is a strong supporter of Republican Kevin Brobson.

Parents, students rally for school choice

Yesterday, parents, students, and lawmakers gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally in support of educational opportunity for all students. Specifically, the rally was in support of the Excellence in Education for All Act (HB1), sponsored by Rep. Andrew Lewis (Dauphin County), which would empower parents by establishing educational opportunity accounts, expanding Pennsylvania’s highly popular tax credit scholarship programs, protecting pandemic learning pods, and more. Rep. Lewis posted pictures of the event!

Lawmakers seek to reform probation system

Last week, I shared that the Senate Judiciary Committee had advanced bipartisan probation reform that would limit “the length of probation sentences and the circumstances under which someone on probation can be sent to jail.” PennLive takes a deeper look at the effort, which the full Senate could vote on within the coming weeks.

House committee advances lobbying changes

Yesterday, the House State Government Committee advanced a package of lobbying reform bills. Among other things, the reforms “would bar state officials, including lawmakers, from letting a lobbyist pay for their transportation, lodging, recreation or entertainment, and limit gifts from lobbyists to $250 in value each year,” the AP reports. The reform would also prohibit lobbyists from lobbying state officials (or their staff) if the lobbyist served as a campaign consultant to that elected official. This reform is a good start, but as we’ve said before, if lawmakers want real lobbying reform, they need to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying.

Commission OKs redistricting data

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which is responsible for drawing state legislative districts, yesterday certified the census data that will be used for those maps. The approved data counts about 27,000 state inmates in their home districts (rather than in the districts where they are incarcerated). The commission now has 90 days to come up with preliminary maps. The commission also certified data to send to the Legislature to use in drawing congressional district maps. This data does NOT shift the inmates. If lawmakers choose to use the latter data, it would mean legislative and congressional district maps are based on two different sets of data, a scenario that raises concerns of legal challenges.

Op-Ed: Power of education belongs to families, not teachers’ unions

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty denouncing teachers’ unions’ stronghold over education and writing that if elected governor, he would fight for school choice and against critical race theory.

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