News & Brews August 30, 2022

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Is this the AP or an SNL skit?

Reading this story from the Associated Press, I wasn’t sure if it was an April Fool’s joke, a bad version of a Saturday Night Live skit, or an attempt to convince Pennsylvanians that the absurd is true. The piece claims Democrat gubernatorial nominee (and Attorney General) Josh Shapiro opposes many of Gov. Wolf’s Covid policies, noting Shapiro “instead talked about a need to ‘educate and empower’ the public, business owners, school leaders and others to protect themselves and others.” Um, what? This is the same Josh Shapiro who went to court to defend Wolf’s business shutdowns, went to court to defend school shutdowns, went to court to defend Wolf’s school mask mandate, and encouraged Pennsylvanians to report their neighbors to the government for violating Wolf’s mandates.

Is Oz ‘shifting strategy’ in Senate race?

I missed sharing this one before, but POLITICO posits that Republican Mehmet Oz is trying to “rescue his floundering Senate campaign” by “making his opponent’s health an issue.” After not directly spotlighting Fetterman’s health, last week Oz’s “campaign put out two statements ridiculing Fetterman’s diet and accusing him of being too ill to withstand debates.” While in some ways the attacks have galvanized support for Oz, some Republicans question the strategy.

Biden to visit Pa. 3 times in 7 days

President Biden is slated to deliver a primetime speech from Philadelphia on Thursday as part of a series of appearances intended to help Democrat candidates in November’s elections. The president is also scheduled to visit Pittsburgh for its Labor Day paradeand deliver remarks in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday. The Inquirer has more. Meanwhile, in advance of Biden’s visit, Democrat U.S. Senate nominee Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is calling on the president to move toward decriminalizing marijuana.

Borrowers may have to pay state taxes on ‘forgiven’ student loans

Bloomberg News reports that Pennsylvania is among 13 states with “laws that treat … forgiven debt as income, meaning that it’s subject to state levies on earnings.” This means that in light of President Biden’s recent announcement forgiving some student debt, borrowers may owe state taxes on the forgiven debt. The story notes, “It’s possible that some of the 13 states where the laws would tax these forgiven student loans will revise their rules before the taxes are due next spring. Depending on the state, that could come in the form of an administrative change from the governor or state tax department, or may require the state legislature to pass a new law.”

Pa.’s lobbying disclosure website is set for an upgrade

Spotlight PA reports that the “lobbying disclosure” line item in the state budget received a 150% increase in funding this fiscal year, which is intended to “fund an IT upgrade to a system that has been criticized as lagging, unintuitive, and often down.” According to a Department of State spokesperson, “Development of the module is in its early stages, but it is the department’s expectation that the user interface and the reporting functions will be more intuitive and user-friendly than the current system.” This is great. Now, if only the Department of State would do the same for the state’s campaign finance reporting site.

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