News & Brews February 25, 2022

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Wolf admin opposes GOP leader’s quest to use current state election maps

In response to House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff’s lawsuit asking that this year’s elections for state House and Senate be held based on the current district maps, as the newly drawn districts are being challenged in court, the Wolf administration filed a brief opposing Benninghoff’s request. The AP reports, “The Department of State, under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, argued a decision to use old maps this year is not appropriate unless the state Supreme Court first rules the commission’s final [reapportionment] plan to be unconstitutional.” Attorneys for the Legislative Reapportionment Commission also filed a brief opposing Benninghoff’s request.

As court considers appeal, Wolf wants mail-in voting to stay

The Wolf administration has asked the Supreme Court to keep mail-in voting intact as the court considers an appeal of the Commonwealth Court’s ruling declaring our mail-in voting law unconstitutional. The Commonwealth Court had previously said its ruling will go into effect on March 15, one week after the Supreme Court hears oral argument in the case. The AP has more.

GOP gubernatorial candidate suspends campaign, files for Congress

Republican Guy Ciarrocchi, former President and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry, suspended his campaign for governor yesterday and has filed FEC paperwork to run for Congress against Democrat Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. Ciarrocchi worked tirelessly last year to encourage Pennsylvanians to vote YES on two constitutional amendments to rein in a governor’s emergency powers, and throughout his campaign, he has been a staunch supporter of school choice. He is the second candidate to exit the governor’s race, following Sen. Scott Martin earlier this month. Nearly a dozen candidates remain in the GOP primary.

Report: Why PA needs Wisconsin-style union reform

Our friends at the Commonwealth Foundation (CF) released a new analysis of the impact of Wisconsin’s landmark labor reform of 2011. The analysis shows “Act 10 has reined in public union special privileges and restored workers’ rights while saving Wisconsin taxpayers billions of dollars.” CF concludes that PA should enact the same types of reforms. Check out a summary of key findings here, or view the full report here.

Lawmaker introduces updated school property tax elimination plan

Republican Rep. Frank Ryan (Lebanon County) has been working for years to eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania. PennLive reports that Ryan has introduced an updated plan to do just that. Ryan acknowledges the plan will be a tough sell, however, as it would require a tax shift. Specifically, it would increase the personal income tax by 1.85 percentage points, apply the new 4.92% income tax to some retirement incomes (with several exceptions), and raise and expand the sales tax. Read more here.

Facing sentencing and more trials, Johnny Doc to get big retirement party

Facing sentencing and two more trials, convicted Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty is set to get a huge retirement bash. The Inquirer reports that tickets for the March 10 celebration are going for $200, with five-figure sponsorships available. Ads in the commemorative book for the event are selling for $500 to $5,000. Proceeds will go to cover medical bills for Dougherty’s wife, who has been battling a neurological disorder. Johnny Doc, former head of IBEW Local 98 and once considered the most powerful unelected politician in Pennsylvania, was convicted in November on bribery charges and awaits two more trials. Since 2010, his union has doled out more than $40 million in political expenses and contributions.

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