News & Brews December 20, 2022

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First Republican announces bid for House speaker

GOP Rep. Valerie Gaydos (Allegheny County) has announced her intent to stand for House Speaker when the Legislature reconvenes in January. Democrat Rep. Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia and Delaware counties) maintains she will be elected speaker. But Democrats, while winning 102 seats to Republicans’ 101 on Election Day, have only 99 members now due to two resignations and one death. Former Speaker Bryan Cutler declined to run again for the top House leadership position.

Lawmakers to re-introduce lifeline scholarship bills

Earlier this year, the Pa. House made history by passing for the first time a Lifeline Scholarship bill, sponsored by Rep. Clint Owlett (Tioga and Bradford counties), which would help students in low-performing schools by allowing education dollars to follow the students to the school of their parents’ choice. The legislation did not pass the Senate by the close of the session, although it had been introduced by Sen. Judy Ward (Blair, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata and Mifflin counties). Both Sen. Ward and Rep. Owlett have announced their intention to re-introduce Lifeline Scholarship legislation in the new session. See Ward’s cosponsorship memo here and Owlett’s here. In her memo, Ward notes her legislation is “[c]onsistent with Governor-Elect Shapiro’s comments of support for Lifeline Scholarships.”

Lawmakers-turned-lobbyists should forfeit gov’t benefits, per proposal

Currently, many lawmakers leave office and become lobbyists, so they retain their taxpayer-funded healthcare and pensions while lobbying “before the very entities that distribute their health benefits and pensions.” Democrat Rep. Liz Hanbidge (Montgomery County) plans to introduce legislation that says that lawmakers-turned-lobbyists “would not receive their pension or health benefits for any calendar year in which they lobby before their former legislative body.” The proposal would apply only to “members elected after this legislation is enacted.” So current lawmakers who might vote on the bill would not be bound by the new rule (shocker).

Snapshot of Shapiro’s transition team

Of the nearly 300 members of Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team, Spotlight PA picks eight to highlight in an attempt to gather “what they tell us about the governor-elect’s policy plans, and what they may want from him in return.” The team, the story notes, “includes lobbyists, activists, attorneys, executives, and former elected officials, and not all are obvious choices for a Democratic administration.” (And don’t forget labor unions, which were huge Shapiro donors and are also represented on the team.) Note, the list of eight is hyperlinked but the links don’t work at the moment. Just scroll down and you’ll see more info.

Ex-Attorney General Kane acquitted of drunken driving

Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who resigned in disgrace in 2016 “after being convicted … of perjury, obstruction and other counts for leaking secret investigative files to embarrass a rival prosecutor,” was acquitted yesterday of drunken driving charges. The charges stemmed from a minor car crash in March. Read more here.

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