News & Brews December 17, 2021

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New House, Senate maps get preliminary approval from commission

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission gave preliminary approval yesterday to new House and Senate maps, even as House Republicans strongly objected to the House map. The commission’s vote was 5-0 for the Senate plan and 3-2 for the House plan, with both Republicans on the panel opposing the latter as it could give Democrats a significant advantage. According to a House GOP analysis, at least six House districts would see Republican incumbents face off against each other, while this would happen for Democrats in just one district. The AP reports, “The vote triggers a 30-day period of public comment and objections. The commission must then produce a final map, after which legal challenges can go to the state Supreme Court.”

After record profits, PSERS wants more from taxpayers

Ah, PSERS. The state’s largest pension fund, which can’t seem to stay out of the news. In today’s installment, the Inquirer reports that after reaping record profits this past fiscal year, “PSERS Thursday presented the state with yet another increase in the ’employer contribution’ rate split by school districts and the state government in Harrisburg, costing taxpayers an additional $119 million, according to the agency’s estimate.”

Mihalek proposes constitutional amendment to privatize liquor

For years, lawmakers have tried to get government out of the booze business. In 2015, the General Assembly passed liquor privatization, but Gov. Wolf vetoed it. When asked, Pennsylvanians have repeatedly said they support privatization. So, one lawmaker is aiming to take the question directly to voters. Rep. Natalie Mihalek (Allegheny and Washington counties) plans to introduce legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor system. Check out her press release here, and her co-sponsorship memo here.

Senate passes probation reform

The Center Square explains the probation reform that the state Senate passed 46-4 on Wednesday. The legislation is “designed to offer early release opportunities and incentives for education, employment, vocational and drug treatment programs.” According to Sen. Lisa Baker, the legislation’s prime sponsor, “The reform measures approved by the Senate take a giant leap forward to implement greater fairness in the process, eliminate excessive incarceration, give individuals a more reliable second chance to get their lives right, and offer taxpayers a break from ever-rising state correctional costs”

Parents say new Philly school admissions policy ‘attacks’ charter schools

The Inquirer reports that hundreds of parents are fighting against a new Philadelphia School District admissions policy that dictates that “the so-called Renaissance charters can’t take students living outside the neighborhood boundaries drawn by the school system.” According to one parent, “This is completely inadequate — all families deserve choice. Seems like an attack to destroy a great school.” The district declined to comment, but it’s no secret that charter schools are often the target of traditional public schools, as the latter (and the unions that control them) don’t like competition.

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