News & Brews January 8, 2024

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Pa. House, Senate priorities for 2024

Spotlight PA reports that this year, “Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to put a lot of their energy into changing permitting processes, getting a long-sought constitutional amendment [opening the window for victims of sexual abuse to sue] over the finish line, and figuring out how to overhaul the commonwealth’s education funding system.” (You’ll recall, however, that House Democrats don’t plan to vote on anything until March, blaming a leaky roof for their inability to work—coincidentally for about the same time period as a vacancy will take away their one-vote majority.)

‘Slugfest’ coming in fight to control Pa. House

”Though state House candidates won’t start filing nominating petitions for a couple more weeks,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, “the 2024 election battle for control of the Pennsylvania chamber — currently tied at 101-101 — already looks like it will be a steel cage affair.” The national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee—which works to elect Dems to state legislatures—considers Pa. one of its “top targets.” Meanwhile, Republican House Campaign Committee Chair Rep. Josh Kail said flipping the House back to GOP is “absolutely essential.” In short, expect a “slugfest,” (in the Post-Gazette’s words). Indeed.

In Pa. on Friday, Biden gave 1st 2024 campaign speech

President Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania on Friday to deliver his first major campaign speech of 2024. Basically, the theme was that “democracy is on the ballot.” POLITICO reports, “Unleashing his strongest language yet against his once and possibly future foe, Biden tore into his predecessor, deeming Trump ‘despicable’ and a danger to the nation he once led.” You can read the AP’s transcript of his speech here.

Lawmakers aim to control AI in campaigns

WESA reports that Democrat state Rep. Tarik Khan (Philadelphia) and Republican state Rep. Rob Mercuri (Allegheny County) are joining forces to propose legislation that “would fine candidates, campaigns and Super PACs if they use deep fake technology to fraudulently misrepresent other candidates.” A few states already have legislation on the books regarding AI in elections.

27 more years of turnpike toll hikes ahead

Every year, I share news of the annual Pa. Turnpike toll hike (the result of power, patronage, and politics). Well, one thing I haven’t mentioned in a while is that Pennsylvanians have 27 more years of hikes ahead. The Inquirer reminds us that the increases—which have been annual since 2009—are slated to continue each year until 2051.

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