News & Brews October 29, 2021

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Are local races in Erie & Northampton counties bellwethers?

The Inquirer posits that local races in Erie and Northampton counties “could offer clues for the year ahead.” That’s because these are “the only two counties in the state that voted twice for Barack Obama before flipping to Donald Trump in 2016 and then back to Joe Biden in 2020.” Read the Inky’s take here. Meanwhile, the progressive Pennsylvania Capital-Star did a county-by-county breakdown of changes in voter registration over the past few months, which showed “a strong summer for the GOP.”

Trump vs. WSJ Ed Board on 2020 PA election

A few days ago, I shared the Wall Street Journal editorial on our upcoming Supreme Court election. That editorial noted President Biden’s win last year in PA. Having none of it, former President Trump responded to the Journal with a letter to the editor objecting to the editorial and offering a seemingly endless string of numbers to support his objection. In response to the letter, the Journal published another editorial, correcting several of Trump’s ‘facts’ and noting that even had Trump won PA, he would still have been “two states short of victory.”

Op-Ed: When it comes to education, more options, less argument

Sen. Ryan Aument (Lancaster County) writes that a proposed temporary education savings account program would provide options for students whose zip-code-assigned public school is not meeting their education or health needs. Preempting the textbook attack that’s bound to come from unions, Aument writes, “This temporary program would expire when the state exits the pandemic and moves into the endemic phase of COVID-19 and would be paid for using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. In utilizing federal funds, this program would not financially disadvantage public schools as no current education appropriation would be altered or reduced.”

PSERS chief counsel steps down, & no one’s lining up to run for other board seats

Even as the PSERS board approved paying nearly $1.2 million to outside law firms handling the federal investigation into the pension fund, PSERS chief counsel Jackie Wiest Lutz announced she is stepping down after 10 months in the role. Meanwhile, the PSERS board also cancelled two elections for board seats, as no one wanted to run. (Can’t say I’m shocked.) Instead, one seat was filled by appointment, while the board member in the other seat agreed to stay on another term.

Senate passes RGGI disapproval resolution

By a 32-18 vote, with three Democrats joining all Republicans, the Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution disapproving of the rule to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. If the House also passes the resolution, Gov. Wolf could veto it, and the Legislature would need a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override the veto. StateImpact PA further explains, “The House has 30 calendar days or 10 legislative days — whichever is longer — to adopt the disapproval resolution. If it does not, the General Assembly will approve the proposed regulation by default.”

PA lottery partner that just got $600M contracts is selling its business

It turns out that the company that the PA Lottery just awarded 10-year contracts estimated at more than $600 million “has sold its lottery business to a Canadian-based private equity firm,” PennLive reports. Lottery officials say the sale won’t affect the contracts … we’ll see.

Op-Ed: ‘PA’s history should reflect facts, not ideology’

Rep. Parke Wentling (Mercer, Crawford, Erie, and Lawrence counties), who serves on the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, has an op-ed in City & State PA cautioning against the move to hide certain facts about PA’s history in the name of “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) efforts.” Wentling writes, “As a student and lover of history, I know that … our collective past includes things we are not proud of today. I respect the role that the debate of historical appropriateness and significance plays in determining our present course of action…. Not all history needs to be celebrated, but it needs to be remembered.” As someone who majored in history in college, I couldn’t agree more.

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