News & Brews January 11, 2023

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Pa. House appears ‘at a standstill’

Well, this is going well (or not). Spotlight PA reports that the “closely divided state House has recessed indefinitely, throwing the chamber’s agenda, including a number of far-reaching constitutional amendments, into limbo.” The recess, which I shared about yesterday, comes after House Speaker Mark Rozzi canceled sessions for the rest of the week following a failure of the House to even pass the rules needed to do pretty much anything.

Shapiro names more cabinet picks

Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro yesterday said he wants current Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and current Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding to stay on board. Meanwhile, he chose Rich Negrin as Department of Environmental Protection Secretary. “Negrin is a lawyer, former prosecutor and former deputy mayor and managing director in Philadelphia’s city government. He was most recently an executive at Commonwealth Edison,” the AP reports.

First fundraising numbers released for (some) Philly mayoral candidates

The Inquirer reports that although candidates for Philly mayor aren’t required to report their 2022 fundraising totals until the end of January, several candidates shared the info early. Among them: Former City Councilmember Helen Gym raised nearly $1 million and has more than $1 million cash on hand. Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart raised more than $800K and also has more than $1 million in the bank. Grocer Jeff Brown raised about $1.08 million and has less than $500K cash on hand.

Lawmakers seek to protect teachers’ religious rights

State lawmakers are trying (again) to remove wording in Pennsylvania law that prohibits teachers from wearing any religious symbols while teaching. The law is on the books despite a two-decades-old federal court ruling that the prohibition violated a teacher’s rights. The current repeal effort is being spearheaded by Republican Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) and Democrat Senator Judy Schwank (Berks County).

Moving up Pa.’s presidential primary? 

WHYY reports, “A proposal coming before Pennsylvania lawmakers would move the 2024 presidential primary up by a month. If approved, the primary would be held March 19, 2024.” The stated intent is to give Pennsylvania more of a say in who the respective party nominees are. Currently, by the time Pa. votes, the primary field has often largely been shaped by multiple other states. Pa.’s proposed change comes against a backdrop of efforts to change other states’ voting dates as well.

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