News & Brews November 15, 2021

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House committee to hold hearing this morning on gov’t union reform

The House Labor & Industry Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing this morning at 10am on public sector union reform. To be considered are several pieces of legislation that would strengthen workers’ rights and protections and end political privileges for government unions. (Specifically, the bills to be considered are HB844, HB845, HB2036, HB2037, HB2042, and HB2048.) The 10am hearing will be live-streamed here.

Wolf hides data … again

After the past 20 months, you’d almost think the Wolf administration is intent on keeping secrets from the public. Oh wait. That’s actually accurate. The latest example, ironically reported by the progressive Pennsylvania Capital-Star, is that the Wolf administration is refusing to release certain data on COVID deaths to a bipartisan legislative panel, despite a unanimous (yep, unanimous) House vote approving the panel’s study of COVID data reporting.

GOP suburban gains in PA are warning sign for Dems

Against the backdrop of election results in Virginia and New Jersey, Politico analyzes the GOP gains in the Philly suburbs, noting, “Pennsylvania will be home to highly competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial races in next year’s midterm elections — and the GOP’s local comeback here shows that Democrats’ newfound shakiness among suburban voters reaches far deeper than one or two states.”

Profile: Westmoreland County DA-Elect Nicole Ziccarelli

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiles newly elected Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli, a Republican who ousted six-term incumbent Democrat DA John Peck on Nov. 2nd. The piece notes Ziccarelli’s political path has strong family roots and says her ‘bursting onto the scene’ shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Court hears opening arguments in school funding case

On Friday, the Commonwealth Court heard opening arguments in the case challenging how Pennsylvania funds public education. The AP reports that the plaintiffs argue that the current funding system violates the constitutional requirement that the state provide a thorough system of public education. Defendants, meanwhile, counter that the case is really a public policy dispute presented under the guise of a constitutional issue. The case is expected to go into January and will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court regardless of which side wins in Commonwealth Court.

Allegheny Co. likely to lose not one but two state reps to city gov’t

Democrat Rep. Ed Gainey will exit the state House after winning election as Pittsburgh’s next mayor, and the Post-Gazette reports he’s likely to take fellow Democrat Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr. with him for a spot in his administration. This would leave two open House seats in heavily Democrat districts. (Neither Gainey nor Wheatley had a General Election challenger in their 2020 re-election bids.)

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