News & Brews July 19, 2023

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Court weighs in on RTK requests to General Assembly

In a pair of rulings yesterday, the Commonwealth Court weighed in on appeals surrounding Right-to-Know requests submitted by reporters to the Pa. House and Pa. Senate. The RTKs requested records related to the hiring of outside legal counsel and, specifically, redactions in the chambers’ responses. Per Law360: “The Commonwealth Court overturned the partial denial of an open-records request … to the Pennsylvania Senate and sent it back to the state Legislative Reference Bureau for a closed-door review. But the panel upheld the partial denial of a near-identical request for records from the state House of Representatives on the grounds that its redactions were lighter and more adequately supported.” See the House ruling here and the Senate ruling here.

Op-Ed: Time to revise the NEA’s federal charter

In a WSJ op-ed, U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI5) and Freedom Foundation CEO Aaron Withe write that while the National Education Association was originally chartered to advance “the cause of education in the United States,” it’s become hyper partisan. As a result, Congress should amend the NEA’s federal charter. Specifically, they write of a proposal introduced by Rep. Fitzgerald “which would amend the union’s charter by adding 11 accountability and transparency provisions commonly found in other federal charters.” These include “prohibiting the NEA from engaging in political activities and lobbying [and] requiring it to submit annual reports to Congress….”

Six months until (another) turnpike toll hike)

PennLive gives a preview of the next annual turnpike toll hike, set to take effect in January 2024. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission says “the most-common toll for a passenger vehicle will increase next year from $1.80 to $1.90 for E-ZPass customers.” Meanwhile, it will rise “from $4.40 to $4.70 for Toll By Plate customers.” Tired of the annual toll hikes? Well, buckle in, they’re set to continue “through at least 2053.” Why? Well, that’s a story of “power, patronage, and politics,” as our CEO Matt Brouillette explained back in 2020.

Jill Biden stumps for the president in western Pa.

First Lady Jill Biden was in the Pittsburgh area yesterday “to remind the region that the Biden administration supports, and provided funding for, many of its largest infrastructure projects,” reports the Tribune-Review. Because, apparently, the region needs reminding….  Indeed, “The visit comes as the president’s current approval rating is low among Pennsylvanians. A June Quinnipiac poll showed 39% of state voters approved of Biden, while 57% disapproved of the president.”

Op-Ed: ‘Mr. Success finally confronts failure’

A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial writer noted Gov. Shapiro’s decades-long string of successes came to a screech with his budget betrayal. “It was a moment where his cleverness crossed over into crassness, and he will pay for it for the rest of his term. The shadow of betrayal has been cast over every future negotiation with the governor’s office, whether about the budget or everyday legislation. His signature bipartisan accomplishments will be much, much harder to achieve.”

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