News & Brews December 2, 2022

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Shapiro’s picks of major donors for transition teams draws attention

Spotlight PA reports that “the 37 recently announced members of Shapiro’s transition team and the 23 members of his inauguration team personally donated more than $815,000 to his campaign during the uncontested Democratic primary and barely competitive general election. Members’ companies and affiliated political action committees also donated nearly $750,000 on top of that.” While Shapiro’s appointment of donors isn’t unusual, not everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Read more here.

Date set for Senate special election

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman yesterday announced that the special election to fill the state Senate seat vacated this week by Sen. John Gordner (Columbia, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, and Snyder counties) will be held on January 31. Gordner announced on Monday that he would resign to become counsel to interim Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward. His last day was Wednesday. So far, Rep. Linda Schlegel Culver (Northumberland and Snyder counties) has announced her candidacy. PennLive explains, “Each respective political party will choose a candidate to represent their party in the special election. The winner will serve out the remainder of Gordner’s term, which expires in November 2024.”

‘Paperwork insurrection’ and fake titles in spat over House control

Although Democrats won 102 seats in the state House last month to Republicans’ 101, the death of one Democrat lawmaker just before being re-elected has put the functional majority in flux. Now, Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton claims her party holds the majority despite an actual 101-101 numerical tally (and two of the Democrats in this tally are vacating their seats for higher office), while Republican Leader Bryan Cutler said McClinton is “attempting a paperwork insurrection… as part of a selfish power grab for a majority that literally does not exist.” McClinton further declared herself “acting speaker,” a role that does not constitutionally exist. Cutler and McClinton are scheduled to meet on Monday to (hopefully) find a path forward.

Fewer than 250 applications move forward in Wolf’s marijuana pardon

Although a few thousand applications came in for Gov. Wolf’s marijuana pardon program, the Board of Pardons approved just 231 that “will go for a final vote by the board on December 16,” PennLive reports. “Any of the cases that make it through that round, will go on to Wolf to grant the pardon.” The story continues, “Another 2,002 applications were denied Thursday because they did not meet the requirements of the project and 434 were held under advisement, meaning the board can vote on them at a later date. The program only applied to people who were convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana and excluded anyone who had any additional criminal convictions on their record.”

On vote to prevent rail strike, Pa.’s U.S. Senators split

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted 85-15 to prevent a nationwide rail strike and “implement the labor agreement between freight rail carriers and unionized workers brokered by the Biden administration,” The Hill reports. Pa.’s U.S. Senators split on the vote, with Sen. Pat Toomey voting no and Sen. Bob Casey voting yes. Toomey stated, “In an effort to prevent a strike, I voted to extend deliberations. Congress should not dictate terms nor intervene in these private negotiations. In fact, it would be my preference that Congress would not play any role here.” And Casey said, “The tentative agreement brokered by President Biden and Secretary Walsh makes meaningful improvements in the lives of railway workers. It’s a good start, but it’s not enough.” The Delaware Valley Journal has more.

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