News & Brews August 18, 2023

Get News & Brews in your inbox each day: Subscribe here!

Why some Pa. cabinet secretaries remain ‘acting’

After two state Senators announced they will propose a constitutional amendment to clarify the role of “acting” secretaries, Spotlight PA looks at why some of Gov. Shapiro’s cabinet nominees still have the “acting” title. For example, Shapiro withdrew his nomination of Debra Bogen to lead the Department of Health, as she did not have enough Senate votes to be confirmed. But she remains in the role. And Shapiro “has yet to announce publicly whether he will once again put Bogen before the state Senate for consideration or will nominate someone else to fill the role on a permanent basis.”

Would Railway Safety Act add safety, or only costs? 

The Delaware Valley Journal reports that despite bi-partisan support for the proposed federal Railway Safety Act, many say the bill wouldn’t improve safety but would increase costs and stifle technological advancement. Of particular frustration is the proposed two-person crew mandate. This mandate would have had no impact on the East Palestine derailment, as the train already had a three-person crew. Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says this mandate isn’t about safety but rather about pleasing unions. “[The two-person crew] has been the top issue on railway labor union wish list[s] for years,“ he says. “And so, they’ve seen this opportunity to come forward and say, ‘We believe in safety. We believe in two-man crews. Pass this bill, and everything will be fine.’”

Allegheny DA’s video briefing raises eyebrows

A video briefing released by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr. has alarmed many observers, who claim it’s politically motivated and undercuts justice. In the video, Zappala discusses the 2022 murder of an 18-month-old. He refers to the intended targets of the shooting as “criminals,” even though they have not been prosecuted or convicted. Zappala, a Democrat, is running for re-election this year. He lost the Democrat primary, but he garnered enough write-in votes to run as a Republican in November. He will face George Soros-backed progressive Matt Dugan.

Biden pays respects to former Pa. First Lady

President Biden was in Scranton yesterday to pay his final respects to former Pa. First Lady Ellen Casey. Casey, the wife of former Gov. Bob Casey and mother of current U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr., passed away last week at the age of 91.

Former western Pa. DA sentenced to prison

A former Republican District Attorney from Somerset County was sentenced to prison yesterday after being convicted of attacking a woman in 2021 in her home. The AP reports that Jeffrey Thomas was sentenced to up to seven years in prison, and he must also register as a sex offender. He was suspended from his role as DA after the charges were filed.

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox