News & Brews May 2, 2024

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Pa. House passes pre-canvassing bill

The Pa. House yesterday voted 102-99 for legislation (HB847) that would allow pre-canvassing of ballots up to seven days before Election Day. The bill passed on party lines, with all Republicans opposing it. Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) criticized Democrats for passing “a standalone bill extending pre-canvassing time without including other popular comprehensive election reform measures like requiring voters to show identification each time they vote.” Democrats, meanwhile, contend that counties have been asking for the change. The Senate appears unlikely to take up the standalone measure.

Study: School choice can improve civil society

In our ridiculously polarized society, it turns out school choice can help bring civility. Black Minds Matter Founder Denisha Allen has an op-ed in The74 on a new study that found “strong evidence that private schooling is associated with better civic outcomes than public education. The authors show there’s a statistically significant association between attending private school and having more political tolerance, political participation, civic knowledge and skills, and volunteerism and social capital than students who attended public school.”

Pa. Game Commission head resigns

The head of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bryan Burhans, resigned this week following questions that were raised about “business relationships” he had with several commission employees. In a press release, Commissioner Scott Foradora said, “The board became aware of circumstances beyond job performance that caused us to raise questions about whether a change in leadership would be appropriate. It recently came to light (that) Bryan had a business relationship with several Game Commission employees and received income through that relationship.” Burhans has not been accused of any ethical violations, but the board had questions about the “appropriateness of those business relationships.”

Company to pay $2.7M over COVID contact tracing data leak

Do you recall back in 2021 when news broke that a vendor the state hired to conduct COVID contact tracing had leaked the personal information of about 72,000 Pennsylvanians? Well, now that (former) vendor—Insight Global—”has agreed to pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by failing to implement adequate cybersecurity measures to protect health information obtained during COVID-19 contact tracing,” per a press release from the Department of Justice.

Pa. Senate votes to create Independent Energy Office

Yesterday, the state Senate voted on party lines (28-22) for legislation (SB832) that would create an Independent Energy Office in Pa. PennLive explains that in its original form, the bill “pertained only to the creation of a new Independent Energy Office that would be tasked with providing analysis on Pennsylvania’s electricity needs and related matters. But the bill was amended to also include a reorganization of the PA Energy Development Authority (PEDA), which is responsible for doling out grants and loans to energy-generating projects.” Democrats criticized the bill as an effort to avoid environmental regulations.

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