News & Brews December 1, 2021

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New pay for lawmakers kicks in today

PennLive’s Jan Murphy reports that beginning today, lawmakers’ salaries will increase by almost $5,000, the biggest rise in a quarter of a century. Murphy writes, “A 1995 state law automatically ties legislators, judges and top executive branch officials, including the governor’s pay, to the annual change in the U.S. Department of Labor-determined Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers for Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.” Last year, lawmakers passed a law, sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan (Lebanon County), to forego the automatic pay raise. Ryan introduced a similar law this year, and more than 20 cosponsors signed onto it, but the full House never voted on the bill.

State Supreme Court reinstates Wolf’s school mask mandate

The state Supreme Court yesterday reinstated the Wolf administration’s statewide school mask mandate as the case challenging the mandate makes its way through the court. The Commonwealth Court had originally struck down the order on Nov. 10 and then rejected a request from the Wolf administration to stay its ruling pending appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in the case on December 8.

Dr. Oz joins U.S. Senate race

After a couple weeks of speculation, celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania. Observing government’s failed COVID response, Oz noted that “when you mix politics and medicine, you get politics instead of solutions. That’s why I am running for United States Senate—to help fix the problems and to help us all heal.” Among his priority issues highlighted on his campaign website are healthcare, the economy, and education.

Court says PIAA is subject to open records law

In a win for transparency, the Commonwealth Court ruled yesterday that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) is subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law. In December of last year, the PIAA had filed a suit against the Office of Open Records, arguing that it’s not a “commonwealth authority or entity” and, ergo, not subject to the open records law. The court didn’t buy it, noting the PIAA is clearly a “state-affiliated entity” under the Right-to-Know Law.

Op-Ed: COVID showed the value of markets—for education

Matthew Rousu, dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University, has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty noting how we praise market forces that bring choice when it comes to buying cars or going grocery shopping. We should have the same market-driven appreciation and approach when it comes to education.

Committee of Seventy gets new leader

Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt will resign his post to take over as head of the Committee of Seventy, a group formed more than 100 years ago to “do something about” corruption in Philadelphia. Among Schmidt’s campaign supporters over the years has been John Dougherty, who was recently found guilty on federal charges of conspiracy and whose union has given Schmidt nearly $100,000 since 2010, including nearly $22,000 since Dougherty’s 2019 federal indictment, according to campaign finance reports.

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