News & Brews January 10, 2023

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Shapiro announces several cabinet picks

Yesterday, Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro named Lower Merion School District Superintendent Khalid Mumin as his pick for education secretary; First Chief Deputy Attorney General Nancy Walker as labor & industry secretary, and Acting Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Neil Weaver as secretary of administration. Mumin has been critical of charter schools, and the state’s largest teachers union praised his nomination.Meanwhile, Weaver was Executive Deputy Secretary with DCED during Gov. Wolf’s disastrous business shutdown waiver program (administered by DCED).

Lawmaker who nominated Rozzi calls for Rozzi to resign

GOP Rep. Jim Gregory who nominated Democrat Rep. Mark Rozzi to be House speaker last week (on the agreement that Rozzi would become an Independent), yesterday sent a letter to Rozzi calling on him to resign from the post, saying Rozzi told him this past weekend that he was “only thinking about switching” parties. I mean, this stuff happens all the time, right? … Right?

Confusion marks start (and end) of House session

The AP reports, “A week after he was a surprise choice to become speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday canceled sessions for the rest of the week after failing to reach a deal on his primary legislative priority.” Lawmakers had convened in response to Gov. Wolf’s call for a special session to advance a two-year window for survivors of child sex abuse to sue abusers. But that didn’t happen, “and after hours of delay Rozzi issued a statement saying the two caucuses were too far apart. He announced he would create a ‘working group’ of three Republicans and three Democrats ‘of varied interests from across the commonwealth to sit down and find a way forward.’”

Op-Ed: On voter ID, trust the voters

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Vice President Nathan Benefield outlines the strong support for voter ID legislation, noting that in Pennsylvania, “86% of voters support modernizing our election laws with reforms like a voter ID requirement.” Benefield urges House and Senate lawmakers to prioritize passing the proposed voter ID constitutional amendment, which the legislature passed last session and which requires one more passage in each chamber to make it to the ballot for voters to weigh in on this year.

Johnny Doc’s trial postponed … again

The federal embezzlement trial of form IBEW 98 head John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty was scheduled to begin this month. But now, “U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl on Monday pushed it off until spring at the request of Dougherty’s new lawyers, who say they need more time to prepare to fight the government’s accusations that Dougherty and others embezzled more than $600,000 from the coffers of the union he once led.” The trial has been delayed several times over the past several years. The new trial date is set for April 24. The change comes as four of the defendants recently pleaded guilty “to various charges” in the case.

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