News & Brews December 19, 2023

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More transparency needed in local government

The AP reports on a “striking trend toward secrecy among local governments across the U.S. From school districts to townships and county boards, public access to records and meetings in many states is worsening over time, open government advocates and experts say.” Here in Pa., “Paula Knudsen Burke, attorney for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said too many government officials … operate under the presumption that the onus is on the requester to prove a record is public. That’s not the case. Records are presumed to be accessible, and the government is tasked to prove otherwise, according to the state’s Right to Know Law.”

Fetterman, Casey want to block sale of U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel in Pittsburgh is being acquired by Japan-based Nippon Steel for more than $14 billion. The AP reports, “U.S. Steel will keep its name and its headquarters in Pittsburgh…. It will become a subsidiary of Nippon.” Meanwhile, Democrat U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (along with Dem. Sen. Bob Casey Casey) hopes to block the sale, saying “Steel is always about security – both our national security and the economic security of our steel communities. I am committed to doing anything I can do, using my platform and my position, to block this foreign sale.”

Pa. House Dems need to stop running home when things get tough

As Pa. House Dems plan to avoid voting until mid-March (purportedly) due to a leaky roof in the Capitol, our president and CEO, Matt Brouillette, writes in the Inquirer that House Democrats need to “demonstrate they can do more than close shop and go home when things get tough.” He reminds us that when the Capitol was gutted by fire in the late 1800s, lawmakers still managed to meet. “Long before the age of technology or even automobiles, lawmakers didn’t let a collapsed Capitol stop them. Today, it’s inexcusable for House Democratic leaders to claim a leaky roof in an otherwise intact Capitol has rendered them impotent.”

‘How Pa. can prevent deadly blackouts’

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Gordon Tomb and civil engineer David Wojick write in the Delaware Valley Journal, “Repeated—even urgent—warnings abound that the power grid is increasingly prone to failure…. The bottom line is Pennsylvanians are in dire danger of life-threatening winter blackouts.” Why? Because “[s]tates and utilities are shutting down reliable power plants, especially coal-fired and nuclear facilities. They are replacing these reliable sources with unreliable sources, such as wind and solar generators, which do not work on cold, windless nights.” Tomb and Wojick outline several actions lawmakers can take to protect Pennsylvanians.

‘Small businesses don’t want Shapiro’s carbon tax’

National Federation of Independent Business Pennsylvania State Director Greg Moreland writes in Broad + Liberty, “No rational person would conclude that an $800 million carbon tax on two-thirds of all electricity generation in Pennsylvania will ‘supercharge PA’s economy, especially for small businesses.’” Yet, that’s what some claim regarding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). “Here’s the truth,” Moreland says, “As the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) reported, virtually all of the $800 million RGGI carbon tax will be passed on to residential, commercial, and industrial customers, and … small business and residential customers will pay nearly 50 percent more of that increase than the average of all customer classes.”

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