News & Brews March 18, 2024

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Pa. House (finally) to reconvene

More than three months after shutting down supposedly for a water leak (which was discovered in 2022 and repaired more than a month ago), Pa. House Democrat leaders are finally reconvening their chamber today. Their recess coincidentally (umm) coincided with a vacancy in the chamber, which temporarily brought their one-vote majority back to a tie.

Nat’l Voter Registration Act battles with state laws

POLITICO looks at lawsuits in several states—including Pennsylvania—that have sought to obtain voter data and post it online. Per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), voter registration records must be publicly disclosed. But that was before ubiquitous internet use. Now, some are concerned about the public posting of voter information, including home addresses. But unless and until Congress changes the NVRA, courts are bound by it. So, here we are.

Pa. House GOP to address Shapiro’s energy tax: How to watch

State House Republican leaders will hold a press conference this morning at 11:00 a.m. to discuss Gov. Josh Shapiro’s proposal for a new energy tax. Watch the livestream at 11:00 a.m. here. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans point out that Shapiro’s plan, which would hike utility bills then give consumers a rebate, is a bad idea. And they say the plan wouldn’t do anything when it comes to creating jobs, despite Shapiro’s claims to the contrary.

Lawmakers want transparency in newspaper ad spending

Pa. sunshine laws require school districts and local governments to pay for certain notices in local newspapers—an often-expensive mandate. Despite the decline of newspaper circulation and use, this requirement remains. Now, two lawmakers are pushing for greater transparency so taxpayers know how much they’re spending on these ads and notices. State Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) and Ryan Aument (Lancaster County) are proposing “legislation that will require all legal advertisements and public meeting notices posted in a newspaper of general circulation to disclose in the corner of the advertisement the cost incurred by the local governmental entity to publish the mandated advertising.” Of course, whenever lawmakers have tried to scale back on these costs and provide other options to local governments, media outlets who benefit financially from the mandate have objected (shocker shocker). Let’s see if they object to transparency, too.

Op-Ed: Shapiro’s higher ed plan ‘falls short’ on private higher ed

While we recognize the different role government should have (or not have) when it comes to public institutions and private ones, respectively, here’s an interesting read. Responding to Gov. Shapiro’s call to overhaul our higher ed system, Mercyhurst University President Kathleen Getz highlights the role and importance of private higher education institutions. “Every year,” she writes, “private schools produce the most new workers entering the Pennsylvania economy of any higher education sector, including in the greatest need occupations: 70% of all nurses, 45% of STEM workers, and 40% of teachers.” She contends that Shapiro’s “focus only on state universities and community colleges will result in a decline in choice and will undermine the overall quality of college education in the commonwealth.”

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