News & Brews November 30, 2023

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With latest raise and benefits, Pa. lawmakers could be 2nd-highest paid in nation

It pays to be a lawmaker in Pennsylvania. PennLive reports that with the latest salary increase—rank-and-file state lawmakers will now make more than $106,000 per year—and “generous benefits,” Pa. lawmakers could be the second-highest paid in the nation. While both New York and California have higher base salaries for lawmakers, our whopping benefits package likely puts us ahead of CA and behind only NY. And while our legislature is technically full-time, “Over the past 11 months, the voting session days for both chambers was [sic] fewer than 50.”

Pa. tries to simplify mail-in ballots

The AP reports that yesterday, “Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration asked counties to start using a standard set of instructions to explain how to complete mail-in ballots, among other steps.” The administration also “wants counties to start using yellow secrecy envelopes and return envelopes with purple markings to help the postal service identify them.” The aim is to help folks follow the rules in returning ballots to avoid having their ballots discounted.

GOP group to focus on mail-in ballots this year

Speaking of mail-in ballots, the conservative Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) yesterday announced the Pennsylvania Chase project, which aims to knock on 500,000 doors this year to “chase” mail-in ballots requested by GOP voters. This effort will seek to ensure that voters who requested mail-in ballots return them. The focus, according to CAP, will “be on voters who live in districts that have GOP candidates in competitive state House and Senate races.”

‘What’s it like for PA Republicans of color in the Trump era?’

Larry Miller has an op-ed in the Delaware Valley Journal looking at support among Black voters for former President Donald Trump. Miller writes, “The Democratic Party’s greatest fear isn’t surging crime in major cities, the threat of Hamas and Hezbollah, or rising antisemitism from coast to coast; it is that more than 20 percent of Black voters in several important battleground states are throwing their support behind former President Donald Trump and that it might represent a shift back to the Republican Party’s historical roots.”

A look at NDAs, Pa. legislative edition

In the wake of the non-disclosure agreement in the settlement of the sexual harassment case of former Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mike Vereb, Spotlight PA looks at NDAs in other legislative settlements. Both the House and the Senate have paid out settlements in recent years, and “[m]any of the settlements include controversial secrecy clauses and other provisions that prevent public disclosure of the agreement.” The story also notes efforts by lawmakers to increase transparency surrounding the use of taxpayer dollars to pay out settlements.

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