News & Brews September 20, 2023

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Dems retain seat in special House election

As generally expected, Democrat Lindsay Powell defeated Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith in yesterday’s special election in Allegheny County’s 21st House district. The unofficial results show Powell with 65% of the vote. The seat was vacant following the resignation of Democrat state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who is running for county executive. Powell’s victory means Democrats once again hold 102 House seats to Republicans’ 101.

Senate committee tackles public servant/lobbyist revolving door

Yesterday the Senate State Government Committee unanimously advanced legislation “to slow the speed of the revolving door between public service and private sector lobbying, a threshold state lawmakers and workers often cross once they leave Pennsylvania government,” Spotlight PA reports. “Current state law bars such officials and employees from lobbying their previous workplaces for a year.” The legislation, sponsored by GOP Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) “would extend that pause by another year.

Shapiro’s automatic voter registration change draws ire

After Gov. Shapiro unilaterally implemented automatic voter registration yesterday, some lawmakers are arguing his actions were an overreach of power. House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) said, “The governor is following the sad and misguided precedent set by his predecessor that recognizes our election laws need updating and modernized but then disenfranchises the General Assembly from exercising its constitutional prerogative to make laws.” Meanwhile, some observed the irony that Shapiro wants automatic voter registration when Pennsylvanians get a state-issued ID (a driver’s license), but there’s continued resistance to requiring that same ID to vote.

Op-Ed: Moody’s outlook change ‘no cause for celebration’

Republican Rep. Seth Grove (York County) explains in RealClear Pennsylvania why Moody’s upgrading of Pa.’s outlook from “stable” to “positive” isn’t as great of news as it may initially seem. It’s worth noting that Moody’s “did not see fit to raise [Pa.’s] actual credit rating, mired at Aa3 since 2014.” Grove writes, “The unaddressed issue in Moody’s outlook is that Pennsylvania’s fiscal year 2023–24 budget spends more than the revenue it brings in. If this trend continues, the result will be that the state’s budget reserves referenced by Moody’s – built up over the past three years, mainly from one-time COVID-19 federal funds – will be depleted.”

Op-Ed: ‘What the Inquirer leaves out?

Broad + Liberty’s Beth Ann Rosica takes issue with the Inquirer’s coverage of certain education topics, questioning the outlet’s omission of key facts. A recent Inky story on school funding, for example, “did not address declining enrollment or the possibility that fewer school buildings may be needed now. Additionally, public education has seen the largest increase in funding in its history.”

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