News & Brews February 22, 2022

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GOP U.S. Senate candidates face off in debate — sort of

Last night, four GOP candidates for U.S. Senate took the debate stage, but three candidates were noticeably absent. Celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands did not participate. Oz cited a scheduling conflict, but McCormick and Sands pulled out at the last minute. This left the forum to Montgomery County real estate developer Jeff Bartos, conservative commentator Kathy Barnette (also of MontCo), Philadelphia attorney George Bochetto, and Chester County businessman Everett Stern. Fox43 has more.

House Speaker calls on Dep’t of Ed to release testing data

House Speaker Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) and House Education Committee Chair Curt Sonney (Erie) have called on the Pennsylvania Department of Education to release the results of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams—data the department said in November it would release in “the coming weeks.” In a letter to Education Secretary Noe Ortega, Cutler and Sonney wrote, “The 2022-23 budget process has begun, but without the test data we are at a great disadvantage in formulating an education plan that provides targeted support for those students and schools who may have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.” The Center Square has more.

Court hears arguments on PA congressional map

On Friday, the state Supreme Court heard several hours of oral argument on proposed congressional redistricting maps. Spotlight PA reports, “The court is working against the clock to pick new districts and keep the spring primary on track.” Of course, it’s not the job of the Supreme Court to “pick new districts,” but I digress. Read highlights from the hearing here.

Mastriano fundraising report raises eyebrows

After filing the required campaign finance report showing about $363K in donations for 2021 (per the report yours truly pulled from the PA Department of State’s website earlier this month), GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano filed an amended report with the Department, showing he actually raised more than $1 million last year and has more than $1.2 million cash on hand. Mastriano’s filings raised eyebrows both for timing (the 2021 reports were required to be submitted by January 31) and because the original report seemed to leave out information. Read more here.

Online GOP Lt. Gov. debate tomorrow night

The Delaware Valley Journal will host an online debate for the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor tomorrow night at 7:30pm. The candidates participating in the hour-long debate are Jeff Coleman, Russ Diamond, Chris Frye, James Jones, and Clarice Schillinger. Click here to register and receive the link to watch the debate.

Senate Approps Committee budget hearings on tap

The Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a slew of budget hearings over the next several weeks, beginning with a 10am hearing this morning with the Independent Fiscal Office and a 2:30pm hearing this afternoon with the Department of Revenue/Lottery. Click here for the hearing schedule and the link to watch.

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