News & Brews August 16, 2023

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‘Who will blink first’ on school choice? 

The Delaware Valley Journal reports on the ongoing push to get PASS Scholarships (formerly Lifeline Scholarships) over the finish line. Shapiro claims he backs PASS, but he has done nothing to get it done since vetoing the program. The Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield explains where things stand: “What side blinks first? Senate Republicans have basically said this is part of the deal. If the Democrats want funding for [a] billion dollars in programs that don’t have authorization language, they need to go along with this. House Democrats have yet to blink on that.” Meanwhile, our president and CEO, Matt Brouillette, said kids trapped in failing schools are hoping that “this time” they can count on Shapiro. Specifically, “on his promise to rescue them.”

State lawmaker announces congressional bid

GOP Rep. Rob Mercuri (Allegheny County) announced his candidacy for U.S. Congress yesterday. He will run in the 17th district, currently represented by progressive Democrat Rep. Chris Deluzio. The Post-Gazette has called the district “Western Pa.’s only swing district.” Mercuri—a West Point graduate and former Senior Vice President at PNC Bank—is the second Republican to enter the race after Rev. Jim Nelson of McKeesport.

News outlets seek to unseal documents in DuBois corruption case

Several months ago, news broke of the arrest of DuBois City Manager Herm Suplizio on allegations that he stole more than $600,000 from taxpayers. Now, a group of four news outlets is asking a judge to unseal a document in the case that “details the basis for filing criminal charges.” Spotlight PA reports its unclear why the document is being kept a secret.

New fracking study raises questions, criticisms

A study commissioned by former Gov. Wolf’s administration concluded that children living near natural gas wells were more likely to develop lymphoma. And “people with asthma living close to wells during the production phase had an increased chance of their asthma getting worse.” The Marcellus Shale Coalition questioned the study’s methodology, saying other potentially contributing factors were not considered.

Pay, perks, and per diems: Being a lawmaker in Pa.

The Inquirer takes a look at Pennsylvania’s 253-member full-time legislature, comparing pay, days in-session, and other factors with other state legislatures. A few takeaways: The $100,000 starting salary is the third highest in the country—after California and New York. Pa. has the nation’s largest full-time legislature. New York, with a population of about 7 million more than Pa., has the second-largest at 213. Even though the legislature is full-time, this year the House is scheduled to meet for 45 days and the Senate is scheduled for 52 days. Then there’s the $181-per-day ‘per diems’ for coming to Harrisburg. This is in addition to mileage reimbursement. (Notably, some lawmakers refuse per diems.)

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