News & Brews March 18, 2022

Get News & Brews in your inbox each day: Subscribe here!

GOP gubernatorial field down by one, but some say it needs to shrink more

Yesterday, GOP gubernatorial candidate Jason Richey announced he is withdrawing from the race and endorsing Bill McSwain, saying it’s “the right thing to do.” The move comes as some Republicans are concerned that the still-large field could lead to a primary winner who’s not well-positioned to take on Democrat Josh Shapiro in November.

‘Mad dash’ for House, Senate candidates to get on the ballot

After the state Supreme Court on Wednesday announced that candidates for state House and Senate would have from today to March 28 to gather enough signatures to get on the primary ballot, the “mad dash” to do so has begun. The Post-Gazette reports, “This process — which usually lasts three weeks — was shortened to just 10 days, thanks to legal challenges before the state Supreme Court before the new state district maps could be finalized.” The shortened timeframe could make it difficult for new candidates to get the requisite 300 signatures (for House) or 500 signatures (for Senate) to secure a spot on the ballot.

Commission to vote on Wolf’s charter regulations on Monday

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission is scheduled to vote on Monday on Gov. Wolf’s regulations targeting charter and cyber charter schools. This week, Republican majorities on the House and Senate education committees voted to disapprove of the regulations, but PennLive reports that the “odds are in Wolf’s favor.” Information on submitting public comment by tomorrow morning’s deadline can be found here. And Monday’s 10am meeting will be live-streamed here.

Pittsburgh’s COVID recovery weaker than thought

WESA reports that “[r]evised federal data shows Pittsburgh and surrounding counties gained about 4,500 fewer jobs over the past year than first estimated, further confirming the weakness of the local economy’s recovery from the pandemic.” According to economist Chris Briem, “We’ve certainly suffered a chunk of job loss here since COVID set in, and I think at this point … it’s not a question anymore of whether we’re going to get back to pre-COVID levels. There’s been a certain reset in local employment levels. And so, there might be growth or decline from here. But this is sort of the new baseline that we’ll see growth or decline from.” Read more here.

Shapiro pitches ‘rebate’ plan

Apparently when your progressive messaging is really bad and your party is tanking in the polls, it’s time to talk tax cuts! Yesterday, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro unveiled a plan that would eliminate the gross receipt tax and sales tax on cell phones, increase the cap for property tax and rent rebates, and hand out gas tax rebate checks to households. But in an editorial this week, the Wall Street Journal called rebates like this “buying political relief before the November election.”

Op-Ed: ‘Rush to legalize recreational marijuana’ ignores concerns

Republican state Sen. Judy Ward (Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, and Huntingdon counties) has an op-ed in the Lewistown Sentinel expressing concern that the recent hearings on legalizing recreational marijuana “have seemed one-sided, and the topics covered have been used to advance recreational marijuana legislation rather than provide a thorough vetting of all aspects of this controversial issue.” She writes, “Marijuana is not as harmless as some who favor legalization claim, and the science is clear.” Read her op-ed here.

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox