News & Brews March 29, 2024

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GOP lawmakers unveil energy package

The Delaware Valley Journal reports, “Two weeks after Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced his cap-and-trade carbon credits system, House Republicans unveiled a vastly different energy legislative package.” The package, a summary of which can be viewed here, includes proposals that “would redirect more than $520 million in Act 129 funds meant for energy efficiency and conservation programs into a credit on Pennsylvanians’ energy bills” and “would create a Health Savings Account type program for utility bills that allows employers to directly deposit part of a worker’s salary into a bank account without paying taxes.”

Casey releases first 2024 campaign ad

On the heels of Republican Dave McCormick’s releasing his first campaign ad in the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey has unveiled his first ad. In it, veteran Chad Baer talks of Casey’s work to pass legislation, often called the “burn pits bill,” which expanded medical care eligibility to veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances. In 2022, Baer also appeared in an ad for then-candidate John Fetterman.

Inspector General’s billboard campaign draws questions

PennLive reports, “The Office of State Inspector General has begun a pilot $240,000 marketing campaign” of billboards that are “popping up around the Capital Region” to advertise the “little-known state agency that some people may only learn of when they are accused of cheating the system.” But some are questioning the messaging strategy, as the billoard’s message is “Preserving Public Trust together.” Per GOP Rep. Brad Roae (Crawford and Erie counties), “The sign is too busy and nobody knows what it means. The sign should say ‘Report Welfare Fraud’ and then have the website.” And our president and CEO, Matt Brouillette, said, “While the inspector general has an important role in identifying waste and fraud, is spending a quarter million dollars on advertising itself the best way to protect taxpayer resources. This has to be a first.”

Will new federal law impact (possible) Pa. recounts? 

First off, we won’t know for quite a while if there will be any recounts following this November’s elections. But Spotlight PA is already speculating how a new federal law might impact recount petitions. The new law “says states must certify their slate of presidential electoral votes by Dec. 11. That’s about five weeks after Election Day…. Previously, there was only a functional deadline by which states were expected to provide their certified slate of electors, known as the ‘safe harbor’ date.”

Philly ranks 2nd nationwide in exonerations

City & State PA reports that per a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations, ”Nearly one in every 10 exonerations that took place in the United States in 2023 occurred in Philadelphia,” ranking the city 2nd nationwide in exonerations in 2023. The report “revealed that 153 exonerations occurred nationwide in 2023. Sixteen of those exonerations were in Pennsylvania, placing the commonwealth fourth nationally behind Illinois, Texas and New York.” The story notes, “Criminal justice advocates and public defenders say that the Philadelphia numbers can be attributed … – at least in part – to the focus that Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s administration has put on making the CIU [Conviction Integrity Unit} work.” (The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science and Society, the University of Michigan Law School, and Michigan State University College of Law.)

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