News & Brews December 16, 2021

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House advances five constitutional amendments

Yesterday, the House voted to advance a package of five constitutional amendments, which would (respectively) implement voter ID, require election audits, limit executive orders to 21 days unless the General Assembly approves an extension by concurrent resolution, allow the General Assembly to disapprove of a regulation without the governor having to approve of the disapproval, and let gubernatorial candidates select their lieutenant governor running mates. As these are constitutional amendments, they would need to be approved by both chambers of the legislature in two consecutive sessions and then be approved by voters. Read more here.

House committee passes ‘starting point’ congressional map

Yesterday, the House State Government Committee approved a preliminary congressional redistricting map, which undoubtedly will see further changing as it progresses through the process. PennLive reports that Committee Chair Seth Grove “said the map was developed with the idea of keeping districts compact and contiguous, maintaining communities of interest and equalizing population without any regard to partisan makeup. It also would minimized the number of county and municipal splits.” Notably, the map reflects our loss of one congressional seat, dropping from 18 to17.

House votes to disapprove RGGI

Yesterday, the House voted 130-70 in favor of a disapproval resolution of Gov. Wolf’s plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Senate passed the disapproval in October, so it now heads to Wolf, who is expected to veto it. Both the House and Senate votes were slightly short of the number needed to override a veto.

Shapiro reportedly to endorse Rep. Austin Davis for LG

Whoops, I forgot to include this yesterday. KDKA reported that according to sources, Democrat Attorney General (and gubernatorial candidate) Josh Shapiro plans to endorse state Rep. Austin Davis (Allegheny County) for lieutenant governor. Shapiro will reportedly make the announcement next month. Davis wouldn’t be the only Democrat vying for the role. Rep. Brian Sims (Philadelphia) is also running. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primary elections, with the winners running together on one ticket in the general election.

Lawmakers introduce Lifeline Scholarship legislation

This week, Rep. Clint Owlett (Tioga, Bradford, and Potter counties) and Rep. Martina White (Philadelphia) introduced legislation that would establish Lifeline Scholarships for children attending a district school ranked in the bottom 15% in terms of performance. According to the cosponsorship memo, students in these schools “would be eligible to receive a scholarship to offset costs associated with choosing an alternative academic setting that meets their child’s individual learning needs.” This legislation is a great step toward ensuring Pennsylvania students can access an excellent education.

Commonwealth Court panel hears argument over voter subpoena

Yesterday, a panel of Commonwealth Court judges heard oral argument over whether GOP senators can subpoena voter info as part of the ongoing investigation of the 2020 elections. The Democrats argued the subpoena violates the privacy of Pennsylvanians, while Republicans said it’s necessary to the investigation. Spotlight PA reports that Republican judges on the panel “expressed skepticism that the court should intervene in the business of the legislative branch, and countered that the Democratic petitioners simply might not like what the subpoena seeks.”

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