News & Brews January 26 2022
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House committee advances labor reform bills
Yesterday, the House Labor & Industry Committee advanced four bills aimed at reforming public sector labor law. Respectively, the bills (HB 844, HB 845, HB 2042, and HB 2048) would protect workers’ privacy, bring greater transparency to government union contracts, ensure workers are notified of their rights, and prevent taxpayer resources from being used for political ends. The Center Square has more, including further summaries of the legislation. The bills now head to the full House for consideration.
Op-Ed: Counting down to a new direction in PA
Matt Brouillette, our president and CEO at Commonwealth Partners, has a new op-ed in the Pottstown Mercury looking at how more than seven years of Gov. Wolf’s policies have contributed to Pennsylvania’s population loss to other states. “This November, voters have a choice,” Matt writes, “Will we perpetuate the policies that are driving families, businesses, and jobs out of Pennsylvania? Or will we chart a new course?” Read his piece here.
As parents demand school choice, IFO releases tax credit scholarship report
Spotlight PA headlines that a “massive PA corporate tax break lacks basic accountability, report finds.” The story refers to a new report from the state’s Independent Fiscal Office on our widely popular tax credit scholarship programs, which empower parents to choose the best education for their children. Among the main findings of the report are “no published data” on “academic outcomes, income, and demographics.” Expect Gov. Wolf, teachers’ unions, and anti-school-choice lawmakers to latch onto this report to try to further limit educational opportunity for kids. Meanwhile, in the real world, parents frustrated with their zip-code-assigned school are clamoring to give their kids more options. Also, this supposedly “massive” program represents less than 1% of the annual $30 billion PA spends on public education.
Dems search for new message on Covid
The New York Times highlights Pennsylvania—both Gov. Wolf’s lockdowns and our upcoming elections—in a story on how Democrats are looking to shift their messaging on Covid as even some members of their own party are “ready to move on.” Read the piece here.
Tracking proposed constitutional amendments
Spotlight PA has created a database of dozens of constitutional changes lawmakers want to make. Notably, “most of these proposed amendments are still stuck at the beginning of the process and haven’t been considered by lawmakers.” See more here (scroll down for the list).
Lawmakers aim to give Shapiro ‘2nd chance’ to tackle Philly gun crime
Republican Reps. Martina White (Philadelphia) and Craig Williams (Chester and Delaware counties) have introduced legislation to extend a 2019 law giving the state attorney general concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute gun crimes in Philly. The 2019 law passed as a pilot program, and it expired last year. In announcing the new legislation, White stated, “Even though the murder rate in Philadelphia rose to record levels, Attorney General Josh Shapiro refused to use this new tool to help us fight crime in Philadelphia. Nonetheless, we’re extending the law to give Shapiro a second chance to do what is right as gun crime continues to rise.”