News & Brews January 30, 2023

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1st of 4 special elections happening tomorrow

Much attention has focused on three special House elections happening February 7, but tomorrow, voters in Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, and Luzerne counties will select a replacement for former Sen. John Gordner, who resigned to become counsel to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward. Republicans hold a significant voter advantage in the district, where GOP state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver is facing Democrat Patricia Lawton. A GOP victory would mean a vacant House seat and, ergo, another special election.

With House at standstill, proposed amendments stall

As the Pa. House remains at a stalemate, with Speaker Mark Rozzi refusing to hold votes or even organize his chamber, proposed constitutional amendments appear unlikely to pass in time to make the May 16 ballot. The AP reports, “The deadline in the constitution to pass and advertise the proposed amendments in newspapers is Feb. 16, three months before the primary election.” And according to the Department of State, passing them after this past Friday would make it “exceedingly difficult” to meet this deadline.

Op-Ed: Giving voters a voice

Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (Armstrong, Indiana, Jefferson, and Westmoreland counties) has an op-ed in The Center Square calling on the House to pass three proposed constitutional amendments and get them to voters in May. “The Pennsylvania Senate is fully organized and committed to addressing the needs of the constituents we represent across the commonwealth,” he writes. “It is unfortunate the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has still not been able to form a consensus and enact rules to allow their chamber to operate.”

43 Pa. communities lose ‘urban’ status

PennLive reports that “43 communities in Pennsylvania lost their status as an urban area thanks to newly released criteria from the U.S. Census Bureau.” Previously, qualifying as an urban area required a population of 2,500 residents. but “in 2020, the Census changed the criteria to define an urban area as having either 2,000 housing units or 5,000 people. It also eliminated the different types of urban areas based on population.” Some federal funding is reserved for either rural or urban areas, and it’s unclear as of yet how the change in designation will affect funding.

Former state Rep. Garth Everett passes away

Former state Rep. Garth Everett of Lycoming County, who served in the Pa. House from 2007 to 2020, passed away on Saturday. No cause of death was immediately released. Fellow lawmakers remembered him as “a good friend,” “a very good man,” and someone “committed to his family first.” We extend our condolences to Rep. Everett’s family, friends, and loved ones.

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