News & Brews June 19, 2024

Get News & Brews in your inbox each day: Subscribe here!

Budget talks ongoing but need ‘kick in the pants’

Pa. Senate Republican Majority Leader Joe Pittman told reporters this week that while state budget negotiations are happening, he told Gov. Josh Shapiro “that we could perhaps use a little more of a kick in the pants to get moving.” Since taking office, Shapiro has developed a reputation of not doing much when it comes to budget talks but instead sitting back and saying the legislature needs to work it out, then blaming lawmakers when things don’t work out. PennLive reports that among the biggest points of debate this year are education spending and school choice. “The Democrats want the governor’s request for a $1.1 billion funding increase for public schools but Pittman said there’s an expectation from his caucus that funding for school vouchers comes along with it after failing to get their priority last year.”

Do Democrats have an Erin McClelland problem? 

Writing in Broad + Liberty, columnist Salena Zito outlines the many ethical concerns over the candidacy of Democrat nominee for state treasurer Erin McClelland. Zito writes that very few people expected McClelland to win her party’s primary over Democrat state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro. And now that she’s won, the Dems will need to figure out how to handle her history of campaign finance violations, the strange conflict of her communications director (who is also a journalist who has written about the treasurer’s race without disclosing he works for McClelland), and more.

Eagles losing team physicians

Why would News & Brews—a political/policy news digest—report on football? Keep reading. Do you recall that in 2022, the Pa. Supreme Court changed the rule on where medical malpractice cases can be filed? Under the new rule, trial attorneys can shop around for venues that are most likely to award the highest payouts to plaintiffs. And Philly is one such venue. Indeed, after the rule change went into effect in January 2023, medical malpractice cases “surged” in Philly. One then-pending cases found Rothman Orthopaedic Institute liable of malpractice and ordered Rothman to pay $14.3 million of the $43.5 million awarded to the plaintiff, a former Eagles player. Unwilling to risk similar liability in the future, Rothman “ended its decades-long run as official team physicians for the Philadelphia Eagles this month,” the Inquirer reports. The story makes the connection: “Rothman’s decision … comes as Philadelphia is seeing both an increase in large jury awards and a surge in malpractice cases filed in the city, where juries are considered favorable to plaintiffs.”

Recreational marijuana unlikely to happen this year

Spotlight PA reports that despite calls from Gov. Shapiro in his budget address to legalize recreational marijuana, it’s unlikely to be part of the final budget agreement this year. “Democrats who control the state House have yet to find consensus on how to regulate a multibillion-dollar industry and include the people most harmed by drug criminalization in the new market.” Senate Republican Leader Joe Pittman, meanwhile, said his chamber is waiting on the House to send a bill over. He stated, “I continue to hear from drug and alcohol providers in my district that have reservations about the use of marijuana and its impacts on addiction. I have long believed this issue is something the federal government needs to figure out.”

WSJ: Pa. vouchers, Jay-Z, Meek Mill, parents, & unions

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board writes that “the battle for school choice has resumed” in Pennsylvania. “But this is not your father’s voucher fight. Those lining up behind the push for choice include several dozen black pastors along with the famous rappers Jay-Z and Meek Mill.” The Ed Board recounts last year’s voucher outcome, when “Gov. Josh Shapiro reneged on the support for vouchers he expressed in his 2022 campaign for Governor, bowing without a fight to opposition from teachers unions and the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania House.” What will happen this year? Well, “Gov. Shapiro is often touted as having White House potential. But by wimping out on school choice last summer, he missed a moment to side with parents over unions. Maybe Jay-Z could set him straight.”

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox