News & Brews October 6, 2023

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Shapiro smirks at question over his handling of Vereb harassment claim

Yesterday, Gov. Shapiro gave his first public remarks regarding his administration’s handling of the sexual harassment allegation against his former secretary of legislative affairs, Mike Vereb. Shapiro avoided directly addressing the allegation but tried to defend his office. What stood out and drew ire, however, was his response to a reporter’s inquiry about the questions of Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, to which he laughed and said with a smirk, “First off, I’d just say consider the source when it comes to the president pro temp.” Reaction was swift, with anger swirling that instead of addressing the concerns, Shapiro insulted the first woman president pro tempore in Pa. history. See his comment here.

POLITICO: ‘Shapiro’s star is rising, but trouble may be brewing back home’

Thus far, news coverage of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s handling of the sexual allegations against Mike Vereb has stayed pretty much in-state. But in what I believe is the first national story on the topic, POLITICO dives into the scandal, noting the “questions about exactly how much Shapiro knew about Vereb’s alleged behavior and why months elapsed between the complaint being made and his departure.” The story notes that the issue “threaten[s] to cut at the heart of the governor’s political identity.”

‘Optimism’ that PASS Scholarships will become law

The AP traces the emergence of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s support for PASS Scholarships in Pa., his subsequent veto of the program due to pressure from unions and House Democrats, and why school choice proponents are optimistic that PASS Scholarships will ultimately become law in Pa.

This week’s state budget activity

The Democrat-controlled Pa. House advanced so-called “code bills” this week, which they say will help move the incomplete state budget toward completion. But the details drew criticism from Republicans. House GOP Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) said, “We have yet another legislative goodie bag. We have budget implementation language wrapped in a few special interest giveaways with one-sided Democratic caucus priorities in a behemoth bill to carry legislation that otherwise would not pass.” House GOP members “predicted that the GOP-controlled Senate would give the efforts a chilly reception.” Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return to session on October 16.

What’s up with the Pa. primary date?

The Pa. House passed a bill to move Pa.’s 2024 primary election date from April 23 to April 2. The Senate had previously passed legislation moving the date to March 19, but by the time the House voted on that bill this week, they had ballooned it to include election changes that included, among other things, expanded voter-ID (which some viewed as too weak), pre canvassing of mail-in ballots, and the elimination of dating requirements for mail-in ballots. Republicans blasted the 11th-hour changes. And Spotlight PA reports, “While counties have been strongly in favor of some of these changes — particularly pre-canvassing — the rapid introduction of the policies, coupled with logistical concerns moving the primary creates, caught them off-guard.” The proposed April 2 date now heads to the Senate, which isn’t slated to return to session until October 16.

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