News & Brews December 19, 2022

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Dems, GOP pick candidates for special elections

Democrat and Republican committee members met (separately) over the weekend to select their nominees for open House seats in Allegheny County. WESA’s Chris Potter reports that Republicans selected Pastor Clayton Walker for House District 32, Robert Pagane for HD 34, and Don Nevills for HD35 (click here for more on all three). Meanwhile, Democrats selected Matt Gergley for HD35 and Abigail Salisbury for HD34. (Dems had previously picked Joe McAndrew for HD32). Elections will happen .. at some point (see next item).

House power struggle: Wolf administration edition

The AP reported that Gov. Wolf’s Department of State “said in a court filing Friday that it is moving ahead with plans for special elections to fill three state House vacancies in early February unless a court orders otherwise.” The filing comes amid the ongoing legal battle surrounding which party has control in the House. Democrats currently hold 99 seats, to Republicans’ 101, but Dems claim a majority given they won 102 seats on Election Day. The passing of one lawmaker and subsequent resignations of two more, however, diminished their actual numbers. Republican Leader Bryan Cutler had ordered two of the special elections for May 16 (to coincide with the primary election) and one for February 7.

Johnny Doc’s close ally to plead guilty

The Inquirer reports that IBEW Local 98’s longtime political director Marita Crawford Is expected to plead guilty today “to federal charges just weeks before she was scheduled to stand trial alongside [John ‘Johnny Doc’ Dougherty] and four others accused of embezzling more than $600,000 from union coffers.” Dougherty, called the most powerful unelected politician in Pennsylvania, was indicted in 2019. Since 2010, his union had doled out tens of millions of dollars in campaign donations, mostly to Democrats. “Crawford’s decision would make her the first high-ranking official within Local 98 — and Dougherty’s notoriously tight-knit inner circle — to admit guilt since she and the other union officials and associates were charged with Dougherty in a sweeping embezzlement indictment….”

Pensions costs for taxpayers to drop next year

PennLive reports, “The taxpayer-funded payroll contribution rate to support retired and current school employees’ retirement income in 2023-24 will drop by 3.6% and go up less than anticipated – no more than 2.19% – in each of the next five years.” This marks the first decrease since 2008-09. The story notes, “Rising pension costs are perennially cited by school districts as contributing to the need to raise property taxes. So lowering the rate they must pay toward employee and retirees’ retirement income should help to produce savings in school districts’ budgets next year.”

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