News & Brews January 23, 2023

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Unwilling to get House to work, Rozzi to launch listening tour

Unable to pass the rules required to do any business, the House has done nothing since electing a speaker on January 3. Now, Speaker Mark Rozzi plans to hold a statewide listening tour to “seek the counsel of those most often neglected: the people of Pennsylvania.” The Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield notes, however, that Pennsylvanians don’t care about “obscure” House rules. Instead, lawmakers need to “hash this out … through the legislative process.” And that means having votes—something Rozzi has been unwilling to do.

House GOP policy committee to unveil vision

This morning at 10:30 a.m, the House Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Rep. Josh Kail (Beaver and Washington counties), will hold a press conference “to highlight the vision of the committee and to introduce the deputy policy chairs.” Click here to watch live. Then, at 11:00 a.m., the committee will hold a hearing titled “Constitutional Amendments—Why We Care.” The hearing will look at the proposed constitutional amendments that the Senate passed but on which House Speaker Rozzi has taken no action. The hearing will be live-streamed.

Pa. unemployment rate hides deeper problem

The state’s unemployment rate dipped to 3.9% in December, marking the lowest rate ever recorded since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the number in 1976. But the low rate does not mean all is well. Indeed, one reason for the low rate is that a large number of people have dropped out of the labor force. And those who are no longer in the labor force (i.e. not seeking employment) don’t factor into the unemployment rate.

Editorial: ‘Shapiro hits the ground running, but questions remain’

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board writes that on Day One, Gov. Josh Shapiro fulfilled a campaign promise, signing an executive order that “means 92% of the jobs in the executive branch of state government will not require a bachelor’s degree.” But the Ed Board (unlike many other outlets) noted, “Almost all of the jobs covered by the executive order … either didn’t require such degrees, or had built-in flexibility to substitute experience for education. In other words, the substance of the governor’s executive order doesn’t quite match the hype.” According to the editorial, “That raises the question of whether Mr. Shapiro’s administration will be defined by competence and substance — or mostly by his tremendous skill as a politician and a craftsman of messages.”

Shapiro reveals ethics plan for his employees

On Friday, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced an ethics package that keeps “a ban on executive-branch employees receiving gifts of influence that is stricter than state law,” but “relax[es] some provisions” in place under Gov. Wolf.

Op-Ed: ‘Will Shapiro unlock decades of affordable energy?’

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Gordon Tomb writes in RealClear Energy,“With Democrat Josh Shapiro as a newly inaugurated governor and a new legislative body, Pennsylvania will either shine as an energy superstar or continue down the dim path of economic decline.” To ensure the former, Tomb writes, Shapiro should take several steps, including backing regulatory reform and withdrawing Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

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