News & Brews June 26, 2024

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Pa. Senate committee backs bill to lock up cell phones during school day

Yesterday, the Senate Education Committee voted 10-1 for legislation that “would fund a pilot program to allow public schools to lock students’ phones away during the school day.” The progressive Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “the bill would create a two-year pilot program that public schools around the state could voluntarily opt into. Students at those schools would be required to put their phones in special pouches that could only be opened by a teacher or administrator during the school day.” Per the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Ryan Aument (Lancaster County), “I just think it’s absolutely critical that we take steps to free our kids from these devices, from the addiction to these devices, from the addiction to social media, during the school day.” The only “nay” vote on the committee came from Democrat state Sen. Lindsey Williams (Allegheny County).

Pa. House passes contraception measure 

The Pa. House voted 133-69 yesterday for legislation that “would have the state health secretary or physician general issue a statewide standing order for FDA-approved over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, including emergency contraception,” the AP reports. “It would mandate that health insurance and government programs cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices and other products that have been prescribed, without copays.”

Shapiro’s carbon cap-and-tax plan ‘stuck in park’

The Delaware Valley Journal reports, ”It looks like Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s plan to fast-track Pennsylvania into a carbon cap-and-trade program is going nowhere. Less than a week before the June 30 budget deadline, sources tell DVJournal there are no plans for hearings or votes on Shapiro’s so-called ‘Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction Act’ (PACER).” You’ll recall Shapiro pitched the plan after hemming and hawing for months over forcing Pa.’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The DVJ story puts it well: “Shapiro is far from a tower of political strength on the issue of carbon cap and trade.” (Of course, cap & tax is a terrible idea, so no complaints that it’s going nowhere.)

VP debate at Lafayette College canceled

Take back that red carpet. The Commission on Presidential Debates has officially canceled the vice-presidential debate, which was slated to take place in September at Lafayette College in Easton. The commission also cancelled its three presidential debates. The Morning Call reports, “The commission has hosted every presidential debate since 1988. It traditionally sets neutral rules for the debate and provides a forum for it that is broadcast simultaneously on all major networks.” This year it became pretty much irrelevant, though, after both major candidates ditched it. This week’s debate between Biden and Trump will instead be hosted by CNN. And, “Instead of being held at Lafayette, the vice presidential debate will be hosted by CBS in July or August between Kamala Harris and Trump’s running mate, who has yet to be announced.”

‘John Fetterman’s war’

The New Yorker has a long-form profile of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, diving into his unwavering support for Israel and the divide it’s caused among his onetime supporters. The story asks, Is Fetterman “trolling the left or offering a way forward for Democrats?” You decide. (It’s a long one, so you may need a second cup of coffee.)

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