News & Brews November 15, 2023

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House OKs $1.8B pension boost, raising tax hike fears

Yesterday, the Pa. House voted 140-63 in support of a $1.8 billion pension increase for state government retirees. The legislation’s cost to taxpayers, including via potential property tax increases, raised concern among multiple lawmakers, however. “Not to downplay anybody’s financial plight,” said state Rep. Brad Roae (Crawford and Erie counties), “but there are a lot of people that never worked for the state, never worked for the school district, that have much worse financial situations in retirement than retired school employees and state employees that we’re trying to help here.” The measure now heads to the Senate.

Senators look to change how Harrisburg handles sexual harassment allegations

City & State PA reports that a bipartisan quartet of female senators yesterday introduced a package of legislation “to reform how sexual harassment cases are handled in Harrisburg.” The bills—spearheaded by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, along with state Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill, Tracy Pennycuick, and Maria Collett—”will strengthen workplace protections for those who work in state government while also increasing transparency about the use of nondisclosure agreements in sexual harassment claims.” The bills follow the resignation of former Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mike Vereb amid sexual harassment allegations and subsequent NDA related to the taxpayer-funded settlement.

Philly LNG Export Task Force issues recommendations

After months of hearings, the bipartisan, bicameral Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force, chaired by GOP Rep. Martina White (Philadelphia) issued its report on “the examination of a potential liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal in southeastern Pennsylvania.” Among the report’s recommendations are permitting reform, workforce development, and calling on Congress to “modernize” the Jones Act, which is an obstacle to the transportation of LNG.

Johnny Doc trial draws in Pa. Supreme Court Justice

Democrat Pa. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, who was elected to that court in 2015, was the subject of witness testimony yesterday at the trial of his brother, former Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. The Inquirer reports that per the witness, in 2011 Justice Dougherty “received hundreds of dollars worth of free home repairs paid for by the union his brother, John Dougherty, led for nearly 30 years.” Through an attorney, Justice Dougherty denied the allegations.

Fetterman joins thousands in pro-Israel march

Yesterday, U.S. Senator John Fetterman joined nearly 300,000 people who gathered in Washington to rally in support of Israel. Fetterman has maintained strong support for Israel in the wake of the Hamas terror attacks, despite angering some of his progressive supporters. He also has put up photos in his office of Israelis held hostage by Hamas.

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