News & Brews February 3, 2023

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Rozzi does ‘midnight lock swap’ on offices used by Republicans 

Can anyone say “drama”? Tuesday after hours, House Speaker Mark Rozzi had the locks changed on a Capitol office suite used by Republicans and containing confidential documents. Rozzi claims he ‘needs the space’. GOP Leader Bryan Cutler said he anticipated Republicans would need to move out of the offices, and that’s “not a problem.” What he didn’t anticipate was the “midnight lock swap.” In response, Cutler asked Gov. Shapiro to investigate the lock change and called on Rozzi to step down as Speaker.

Shapiro admin orders 2,300 state workers back to office

PennLive reports, “About 2,300 state government employees, many of whom had been working a hybrid schedule allowing them to work remotely, will now be reporting to the office at least three days a week under a new Shapiro administration policy to take effect on March 6.” The change “applies to all senior managers who work under the governor’s jurisdiction, the Governor’s Office staff and Cabinet members, none of whom are union-represented.” Republican lawmakers had been calling for this return for almost two years.

State treasurer warns of ‘fiscal cliff’ ahead

During a discussion with lawmakers, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity noted that while Pa.’s “general fund cash flow” is “very strong,” there is a “fiscal cliff that’s looming. The cliff will likely arrive somewhere during fiscal year ‘25-26.” The Independent Fiscal Office has previously warned of future budget deficits. The Center Square reports that “Garrity urged lawmakers to prepare for budget problems before they appear.”

2 Pa. colleges rank among 10 worst for free speech

According to a new report from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pennsylvania are among the 10 worst colleges in the nation for free speech. To make the list, colleges must “go above and beyond in their efforts to trample expressive freedom.” Notably, the FIRE is a fierce advocate for all free speech, not only free speech that one side or the other may agree with.

Pa. is 10th in nation for local gov’t fines and fees collected

An analysis from the Reason foundation finds that in 2020, “Nationally, local governments collected more than $9 billion through fines and fees. Pennsylvania ranked 10th overall for total amount collected, while its per-capita collections were $15.56, below the national average of $27.” In 2020, Pa. collected more than $202 million in local fines and fees. The Center Square reports that these are fines and fees that are “levied through the criminal justice system, such as traffic citations and local code violations.”

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