News & Brews November 9, 2021
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Wolf likes local control again (but not until January 17)
Gov. Wolf plans to turn over decisions on school masking mandates to local school districts come January 17. Apparently, Wolf liked local control on school mask rules until August 31, when he announced his statewide school mask mandate, and he thinks local control will be good again … on January 17. Between August 31 and January 17, local control is bad. Very bad. Of course, this has everything to do with science and nothing to do with pending lawsuits over masks, right? (Also, the statewide mandate will stay in place after January 17 for early learning programs and child care facilities, meaning local control will be ok only in certain settings after January 17, so there’s that.)
House committee passes constitutional amendment transparency measure
Yesterday, the House State Government Committee unanimously passed the Constitutional Amendment Accountability Act, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) The legislation would require the Department of State to post online each step of the constitutional amendment process so the public can view it. The measure, which passed the Senate in September with bipartisan support, came after the Department of State failed to advertise a constitutional amendment extending the window for victims of childhood sex abuse to sue. The measure now heads to the full House for consideration.
Lawmakers seek to end political privileges for gov’t unions
Several lawmakers are introducing legislation to protect workers’ rights and end special political privileges currently granted to public sector unions. Among these are unions’ ability to use taxpayer-funded payroll systems to collect their political campaign contributions—a perk not given to any other private organization. The Altoona Mirror gives a run-down of some of the bills being introduced. Of course, the story presents these commonsense reforms as ‘weakening unions.’ Kind of makes you wonder how strong government unions would be if they were required to stand on their own, without special political perks, like other private organizations.
Senate committee advances bills prioritizing parents’ role in education
Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Scott Martin (Lancaster County), advanced several bills aimed at giving parents more control over their children’s education. Among the bills are one expanding certain aspects of Pennsylvania’s tax credit scholarship programs and one reducing to 60 days the time schools are allowed to close for in-person education as a result of a communicable disease (the current allowance is four years—yep, you read that correctly). Click here for summaries of the remaining bills advanced by the committee.
Jury deliberations set to begin in Johnny Doc trial
What constitutes a bribe and what’s simply a pro-union politician being pro-union? That’s the question for the jury in the federal bribery trial of union leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty and Philly Councilman Bobby Henon. As lawyers wrapped up their arguments yesterday, jury deliberations are expected to begin today. And in case you missed our Infogram, here’s a look at just how much money Johnny Doc’s union doles out to politicians.
You can now draw and submit your own congressional map!
Do you have an idea of how Pennsylvania’s new congressional district map should look? Well, you can now draw and submit your own map for consideration at paredistricting.com. Announcing this feature, Rep. Seth Grove (York County), chair of the House State Government Committee, noted, “This redistricting process continues to be the most transparent process in the history of the Commonwealth.” Grove’s office further noted that the deadline to submit your map is December 3, and “[a]ll maps must comply with the following criteria: population equality among congressional districts, contain 17 complete congressional districts, and adhere to the Federal Voting Rights Act. Traditional redistricting criteria, such as maintaining the integrity of political subdivisions, should also be considered.” Happy map drawing!