News & Brews November 29, 2022

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GOP state lawmakers launch Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus

Yesterday, about two dozen Republican house lawmakers announced the formation of the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, modeled after the Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House, which is made up of “conservative members who resolved not to compromise on conservative principles in the name of ‘governing,'” PennLive reports. The Pa. Freedom Caucus will be chaired by Rep. Dawn Keefer (York and Cumberland counties), who said its members will “stand unified to protect personal freedoms, the right to pursue economic aspirations without undue government influence and the right to live and raise a family without Big Brother of government usurping individual liberties.”

DeSantis leads Trump in early poll of Pa. Republicans

According to a new survey commissioned by Commonwealth Partners, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leads former President Trump 45% to 40% in a hypothetical head-to-head contest in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. The Inquirer reports, “The poll, taken Nov. 19-21, comes as some in the party have blamed Trump for the GOP’s poor showing in this month’s midterm elections. The former president’s endorsed candidates lost several key races, including elections for governor and U.S. Senate in battleground Pennsylvania. By contrast, DeSantis won reelection in Florida by 19 percentage points.”

State senator announces resignation

Republican state Senator John Gordner (Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, and Snyder counties) announced yesterday that he will resign his senate seat tomorrow to become counsel to Interim Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward on Thursday. Gordner has been in the Senate since 2003 and previously served 10 years in the House. He was elected to his current term in 2020. His resignation creates a vacancy in the Senate, which will be filled by a to-be-scheduled special election. PennLive reports that his district “leans strongly Republican.”

Pa.’s annual political ‘schmooze-fest’ happening this weekend

It’s that time of year: The annual Pennsylvania Society will take place this weekend in New York City. PennLive reports that the “schmooze-fest … brings those who move in political, business, civic and nonprofit circles throughout the commonwealth together to socialize in a fun and festive place to gather during the holiday season.”The gathering saw attendance fall over the past few years, and some view this year as a ‘comeback.’ More than two dozen events are planned, and among those scheduled to speak at the main-event dinner is Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro.

Could certification of election results be delayed in Pa.?

Yesterday was the deadline for counties to deliver certified election results to the state, but the Center Square reports that “[l]awsuits and a split county board could slow down certification.” In Luzerne County, the elections board deadlocked in a vote on whether to certify results following the paper shortage mess on Election Day. (The one board member who abstained from the vote said he plans to vote in favor of certification tomorrow.) Meanwhile, several recount petitions have been filed in multiple other counties. Read more here.

Pa. standardized test scores still below pre-pandemic levels

Yesterday, the state Department of Education released data from the 2022 Pennsylvania System of State Assessments (PSSAs), and the results show that student test scores are still lower than what they were before government shut down schools in response to Covid. The Inquirer reports that scores “continued to slide in English for third through sixth graders. While English scores for seventh and eighth graders showed an uptick in 2022, as did math scores at most grade levels, the results still fell below what they had been in 2019, the last test administered before the pandemic.”

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