News & Brews February 3, 2022

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Wolf & Dems outline plans to spend $1.7 billion, Republicans not impressed

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf and the same Democrat elected officials who fought to keep businesses closed, Pennsylvanians out of work, and children stuck home without education options held a press conference to propose spending $1.7 billion in federal aid on things including direct payments to some Pennsylvanians. Gee, if only Wolf hadn’t (by his own admission) “trash[ed] our economy” to begin with. Of course, Republicans were not amused, saying the proposals “were developed in a fiscal fantasy land where concern for future fiscal years apparently doesn’t exist.” If this is a precursor to budget negotiations, then the next few months should be … interesting.

State Supreme Court takes over congressional redistricting

Yesterday, the state Supreme Court announced that it will, indeed, exercise its “Kings’ Bench” powers to take over the case on congressional redistricting. The Democrat majority on the court ordered Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough (who had presided over hearings on the proposed maps) to submit her recommendation of a redistricting plan, along with proposed revisions to the election calendar, no later than Monday, February 7. Parties in the case can file objections to the map by February 14 (can you feel the love?), and the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on February 18 at 9:30 am. The full order is on the case docket sheet (scroll way down to the Feb. 2 entry). 

State Supreme Court sets oral argument date for mail-in voting case

Also on the legal front, after the Commonwealth Court ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting violates our state constitution, the state Supreme Court is hearing the case on appeal and has scheduled oral argument for March 8. The Commonwealth Court’s ruling is stayed pending the appeal.

DelRosso enters race for Lt. Gov.

GOP Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (Allegheny and Westmoreland counties) announced her candidacy for Lt. Gov. yesterday. DelRosso was elected to the House in 2020 after defeating 30-year incumbent Democrat Minority Leader Frank Dermody. Originally from Scranton, DelRosso is a small business owner and previously served on the Oakmont Borough Council. As a state rep, she has been a champion for ensuring parents have in-person learning options for their children. Visit her website here.

Op-Ed: Education choice can prevent fights over Covid policies

It’s no secret that many school board meetings have become heated lately with clashes over Covid safety protocols. Colleen Hroncich, policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, explains, “Some families felt a sense of relief when their schools announced closures and a transition to remote instruction…. But many families have the opposite reaction: they want schools to remain open for in-person instruction.” The solution, she writes, is rather simple: “We don’t need to have ‘all open’ or ‘all closed’ battles. With choice, parents can select the environment they’re comfortable with. And teachers can teach in the setting they prefer.” Read her piece here.

Judge to rule whether PIAA can penalize athletes over school choice

Last week, I shared an op-ed outlining how the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is penalizing some student athletes simply because their parents exercised school choice. The Commonwealth Foundation’s Kevin Mooney writes that the PIAA had “imposed a series of stiff sanctions last year impacting wrestlers … who transferred from the Forest Hills public school in Sidman to Bishop McCort, a private Catholic high school in Johnstown.” The transfers were due to school closures during Covid, but the PIAA claims the transfers were for athletic purposes, which would violate recruiting rules.Now, a judge will decide if the penalties stand, as the case is in federal court. Read more here.

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