News & Brews April 11, 2024

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Democrat-aligned groups appeal mail-in voting ruling

Democrat-aligned groups, represented by a group that spent approximately $2 million on behalf of Democrats in last year’s Pa. Supreme Court race, are appealing the recent 3rd Circuit ruling that upheld Pa.’s law mandating that mail-in ballots be correctly dated. Spotlight PA, which one-sidedly categorizes the appeal as a “voting rights” effort, says the ACLU (which is the group that spent $2 million), filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs. It’s worth noting that under the 3rd Circuit ruling, everyone maintains the same exact right to vote that they had prior to the 3rd Circuit ruling. There’s just this thing called “the law” that the court ruled voters must follow.

GOP lawmakers propose higher ed plan

Yesterday, Republican state lawmakers unveiled a higher education plan as an alternative to Gov. Shapiro’s short-on-details plan. The AP reports that the GOP plan “revolves around grants and tuition discounts.” One initiative “would provide grants of $5,000 a year to Pennsylvania students who go to school in Pennsylvania. Another new program would extend the in-state tuition discount at Pennsylvania’s state-owned university system to out-of-state students who maintain a grade-point-average of at least 2.5. To be eligible, those students must enroll in a degree program for a high-priority discipline. After graduating, they would have to remain in Pennsylvania for 15 months for every year they accepted a grant.”

Pa. House advances AI notification bill

The AP reports that yesterday, the state House voted 146-54 in favor of legislation requiring that Pa. “consumers … be notified when content has been generated by artificial intelligence.” The bill also stipulates that “defendants couldn’t argue that child sexual abuse material created by artificial intelligence isn’t illegal.” All Democrats voted in favor of the bill, with Republicans divided. Among those opposing the measure is the Pa. Chamber of Business and Industry “on the grounds that it could expose businesses to civil litigation and would not be limited to deceptive material.” (You can read the Chamber’s position statement here.) The bill now heads to the Senate.

Pa. Senate passes immigration/public safety bills

PennLive reports that the Pa. Senate this week passed two crime-related bills with the backing of all Republicans and a few “Democrats from more conservative districts.” The first “would mandate that those accused of certain violent crimes or of trafficking large amounts of drugs not be given non-monetary bail.” And the second “would require law enforcement in Pennsylvania to contact the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) if they have ‘information reasonably indicating that a criminal defendant is not a citizen of the United States.’” Most Democrats opposed the bills, which “are far less likely to make it through the Democratic-majority state House of Representatives.”

DOJ has opened formal investigation of U.S. Steel takeover

POLITICO reports that the U.S. Department of Justice “has opened up an in-depth antitrust investigation of Nippon Steel’s $14.1 billion takeover of U.S. Steel, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter.” (Previously, DOJ was conducting a preliminary review only.) The story notes that “the antitrust scrutiny is separate from concerns about U.S. Steel’s potential foreign ownership, and is instead focused in part on a large manufacturing plant in Calvert, Alabama, jointly owned by Nippon Steel and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal. That plant competes directly with U.S. Steel, particularly for automotive customers…. While the success of the deal will not likely rise or fall on antitrust concerns, a lengthy investigation would add uncertainty.

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