News & Brews May 15, 2024

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Shapiro’s new staff directive raises free speech concerns

Spotlight PA reports, “Gov. Josh Shapiro has quietly revised his administration’s code of conduct to bar state employees from engaging in ‘scandalous or disgraceful’ behavior.” But, “The vaguely worded update, which went into effect last week … is raising alarm among First Amendment advocates concerned that it could be used to unconstitutionally curtail free speech.” Among the concerns is that the rule “does not define scandalous or disgraceful conduct, which the order says is prohibited both ‘on or off duty.’”

WSJ: ‘A school choice revival in Pennsylvania’

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board highlights the Pa. Senate Education Committee’s vote last week to pass Lifeline (or PASS) Scholarships, noting that the effort “is getting another chance at life after Democrats killed it last year.” The Ed Board writes, “As budget negotiations begin this year, the trouble will again be the House, which has a one-seat Democratic majority. The teachers unions are keeping up their fire against the legislation. But with the right pressure from Senate leadership—which is standing firm on the scholarships—and the Governor, there could be a different outcome.” Of course, the editors also ask the all-important question referencing Shapiro’s flip-flop last year: “Will Gov. Josh Shapiro fold again?”

Ex-Philly union leader charged with stealing from members to illegally support Democrat candidates

Chris Woods, the former head of District 1199C of the National Union of Hospital and Healthcare Employees in Philly, has been charged with stealing more than $150,000 from union members and using it to support Democrat candidates, including former Philly Mayor Jim Kenney and City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. Woods allegedly paid a construction company to do work at the union hall, but the company was an agreed-upon front for a political operative who instead used the money for politics.

Luzerne County House GOP primary still not called

The House Republican primary race between incumbent state Rep. Mike Cabell and challenger Jamie Walsh in Luzerne County remains too close to call, with Walsh leading by three votes. Yesterday, Cabell filed a legal response objecting to the county’s decision not to count write-in votes. The Times Leader reports that the county board of elections has long held that to be counted, write-in votes must be for someone not on the ballot. (It’s unknown now if any write-in votes are for either Cabell or Walsh). Meanwhile, 14 provisional ballots remain uncounted, pending Cabell’s appeal of one.

Three changes to fix Pa.’s economy

GOP state Reps. Zach Mako (Northampton & Lehigh counties), Robert Leadbeter (Columbia County), and Mike Jones (York County) outline three reforms “that could drastically improve … [Pennsylvania’s] economy and present opportunities for family-sustaining jobs.” These reforms are accelerating the reduction of our corporate net income tax rate, allowing for the deduction for tax purposes of net operating losses, and repealing the accelerated sales tax requirement, which “mandates that businesses collecting over $25,000 in sales tax in the third quarter of the previous year make monthly prepayments equivalent to 50% of their projected sales tax collections.”

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