News & Brews June 21, 2023

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Shapiro: I-95 will reopen this weekend

Providing an update yesterday, Gov. Josh Shapiro said I-95 will re-open to traffic this weekend. 6abc reports, “Pennsylvania’s plan for the work involves trucking in 2,000 tons of lightweight glass nuggets for the quick rebuilding….” And, “Instead of rebuilding the overpass right away, crews will use the recycled glass to fill in the collapsed area….” Then, “a replacement bridge will be built next to it to reroute traffic while crews excavate the fill to restore the exit ramp.” Whether the temporary lanes will reopen Saturday or Sunday depends “on weather conditions and how quickly the asphalt can cure.”

3rd Democrat enters race for Pa. attorney general

Keir Bradford-Grey, a public defender from southeast Pa., has announced her candidacy for state attorney general. That AP reports, “Bradford-Grey led the Defender Association of Philadelphia for five years,” and before that, “she was Montgomery County’s chief public defender.” She joins a Democrat field that includes former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan. The AP notes that Democrat state Rep. Jared Solomon (Philadelphia) “is seriously considering running.” And on the Republican side, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday is also mulling a bid. The election is in 2024.

Pa. House passes minimum wage hike

Yesterday, the Democrat-controlled House voted 103-100 to increase the state’s government-mandated minimum wage to $15 by 2026. The gradual increase would be to $11 the first year, $13 in 2025, and $15 in 2026. Opponents caution that the increase will put people out of work and hurt those seeking jobs. Republican Reps. K.C. Tomlinson and Joe Hogan, both of Bucks County, joined Dems in backing the legislation. Democrat Rep. Frank Burns (Cambria County) joined Republicans in opposing it. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman (Armstrong, Indiana, Jefferson, and Westmoreland counties) said “$15 an hour is not a practical number.”

Pa. House passes tax credits for new nurses, teachers, police

Yesterday, the House voted 137-66 for a tax credit to recruit new teachers, nurses, and police officers. All Democrats and several dozen Republicans voted in favor of the bill. The measure now heads to the Senate, where Republican leadership is not keen on taking it up, calling it a “Band-Aid approach.” Indeed, instead of picking out certain professions for tax credits, the state should look to overall tax reform to make Pa. more attractive.

Pa. to distribute nearly $279M in fracking impact fees

”The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission announced Tuesday that it will be distributing nearly $279 million in fracking impact fees charged to shale gas drillers in 2022, a bump over $234 million collected in 2021,” PennLive reports. Most of this money will go “either to counties and municipalities … or into the state’s Marcellus Legacy Fund.”

Op-Ed: Pennsylvania needs to be friendlier

”You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania” was once the state’s tagline. But you might not guess this considering how Pa. has often treated businesses. Yours truly has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty on how Pa.’s unfriendliness has driven businesses away—and how the state can start being nicer.

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