News & Brews December 9, 2021

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GOP selects preliminary congressional redistricting plan

Yesterday, House State Government Committee Chair Seth Grove (York County) announced that the committee has selected a citizen-drawn map as the preliminary congressional redistricting plan, and the map is now posted for public comment.The map was submitted by Amanda Holt of Lehigh County. Holt is a former Republican Lehigh County Commissioner who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging previous House and Senate maps and was appointed by Gov. Wolf in 2018 as a member of his Redistricting Reform Commission. Click here to view an overview of the map, and click here for more detailed information and to comment on the map.

SERS board kills effort to stop Wolf’s vaccine bonus for some staff

PennLive reports that by a 6-5 vote, “State Employees Retirement System trustees beat back a proposal to cancel Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 vaccination incentive bonuses for management and professional staff at the main public pension system for Pennsylvania’s state employees.” The proposal was introduced by Rep. Paul Schemel (Franklin County) and “would have blocked Wolf’s offer of five days leave or an equivalent cash bonus to fully-vaccinated state employees for most non-union staff at SERS, including senior management, investment professionals and staff attorneys.” Read the full story here.

State Supreme Court hears arguments on school mask mandate

The Wolf administration’s statewide school mask mandate was before the state Supreme Court yesterday, as justices heard oral arguments in the case. PennLive reports that “the nearly hour-long session in Philadelphia wasn’t really about the virus or controlling its spread or whether wearing those masks is an effective response to the pandemic. Instead, the arguments centered on whether the state’s Acting Secretary of Health, Alison Beam, had the legal authority to issue the mask mandate.” Read more here.

PA courts (again) make list of ‘judicial hellholes’

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas have again landed on the list of Judicial Hellholes released by the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF). On the positive side, our courts dropped from first to fourth place, but don’t get too excited, as the drop “is not due to reforms or progress made in the state, but indicative of the number of issues plaguing California, New York and Georgia,” the top three. Among the faults listed by ATRF: “Plaintiffs from across the country flock to the [Philadelphia] Court of Common Pleas because of its reputation for excessive verdicts and its ‘open door’ policy to out-of-state plaintiffs.” And the “Supreme Court of Pennsylvania … continues to expand liability for businesses and municipalities across the state.”

Op-Ed: Balance of power in gov’t means more power for the people

House Speaker Bryan Cutler and Sen. Ryan Aument, both of Lancaster County, have a joint op-ed in the Pottstown Mercury highlighting the abuse of executive power by both parties and outlining their proposals “to recalibrate our government to work for the people instead of concentrating too much power into the hands of one person, whether that person is Republican or Democrat.”

Lawmaker aims to end automatic pay raises for elected officials

Rep. Gerald Mullery (Luzerne County) has introduced legislation that would end automatic pay raises for elected officials, His bill, HB 2122, would apply to the General Assembly as well as to judges throughout PA, the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general, and executive branch agency heads.

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