News & Brews October 3, 2022

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Pa. Supreme Court Chief Justice Max Baer passes away

Max Baer, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, passed away suddenly over the weekend, the court announced on Saturday. Justice Debra Todd, who will now become Chief Justice, called his death “a tremendous loss for the Court and all of Pennsylvania.” Chief Justice Baer, who was 74 at the time of his passing, was set to retire this year, and his seat was already set to be on the 2023 ballot. Gov. Wolf could now appoint a justice to serve until next year’s election, subject to confirmation by two-thirds of the Senate, but PennLive notes it’s unlikely such a confirmation would happen before Wolf leaves office. There will be a public memorial service tomorrow at Duquesne University to honor Chief Justice Baer.

Day 2 of Philly crime hearing focuses on drop in gun crime convictions

On Friday, the House Select Committee on Law and Order continued its hearings examining gun violence in Philadelphia. The Delaware Valley Journal reports, “Witnesses linked the city’s decrease in firearms convictions since 2018 with progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner’s decision to withdraw his office from the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association that same year.” The story continues, “Greg Rowe, executive director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, called Krasner’s decision to pull Philadelphia from the organization ‘unusual. At the time, the DA told the media that our policies that we support were too punitive and too focused on incarceration. We would obviously disagree on that.'”

Million$$ pour into Pa. governor’s race

From June through September, More than $28 million was donated to Pa.’s two gubernatorial candidates, with Josh Shapiro raking in the vast (vast) majority of this, at more than $25 million to Doug Mastriano’s approximately $3 million. Who’s giving to whom? City & State PA took at look at notable donors—both individuals and PACs—to each candidate. Read the piece here

Bloomberg tried to fund Philly election offices in 2020

By now, most of us have heard about “Zuckerbucks,” the money Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg poured into elections in 2020. Well, how about Bloombucks? Broad + Liberty investigative reporter Todd Shepherd exposes that billionaire Michael Bloomberg attempted to pour money into Philadelphia’s election offices in 2020 to help with staffing, communication, and “mail-in voting consumables.” Read more here.

Is pandemic ‘benefits cliff’ contributing to Pa. labor shortage?

The Center Square looks at how under the federal public health emergency, the government not only expanded SNAP benefits but also suspended the so-called “phase-out” structure of benefits, “where an additional $100 in income reduced benefits by $30.” Now, it’s “all or nothing,” according to Matt Knittel, the director of Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office. The IFO notes, “A vertical cliff provides a strong disincentive for household members to seek employment, work more hours or accept promotions due to the potential loss of benefits.” And the story states, “While the research isn’t clear on the magnitude of the effect on the labor supply when benefits discourage work, the expanded benefits come as the Pennsylvania labor force shrinks.”

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