Mastriano Condemns FBI Raid of Pennsylvania Pro-Life Activist

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano this weekend condemned the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s raid and arrest of Bucks County resident Mark Houck, a prominent pro-life activist. 

According to a LifeSiteNews.com report citing Houck’s wife Ryan-Marie’s firsthand reaction to the SWAT team’s Friday-morning visit to the home where the two live with their seven children, between 25 and 30 armed agents arriving in approximately 15 vehicles surrounded the house. 

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Democratic Judge Questions Differing Ballot-Curing Rules Across Pennsylvania

As political-party attorneys and the state of Pennsylvania argued over “curing” election ballots on Thursday, the Democratic judge hearing the case suggested that differing county rules could undermine confidence in election integrity.

Judge Ellen Ceisler, one of two Democrats on the seven-member Commonwealth Court, conducted the hearing in which Republican Party lawyers pressed their case against Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D). Per litigation filed three weeks ago, the plaintiffs contended that the court should not permit the secretary to let counties notify absentee or mail-in voters that their ballots contain mistakes that can supposedly be corrected or “cured.” 

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Pro-Lifers Pleased with Enthusiasm at Second Annual Pennsylvania March for Life

Pennsylvanians who support legal protections for innocent life including the unborn resoundingly celebrated the enthused showing at Monday’s Pennsylvania March for Life in Harrisburg, the Keystone State’s second such annual event.

Thousands of residents marched to the Capitol Building in support of legislation to prevent abortion, an issue that has seen a resurgence of interest since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide was nullified earlier this year. Pro-abortion activists held their own rally for Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s gubernatorial candidacy the day afterward, drawing few attendees.

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Legislators Propose Bill to Help Residents Recycle Electronic Devices in Pennsylvania

Two Pennsylvania legislators on Friday proposed imposing an “eco-fee” on purchases of electronic devices in the Keystone State to fund recycling of those items.

In 2010, the commonwealth adopted the Covered Device Recycling Act (CDRA) to facilitate manufacturer- and retailer-based recycling of such devices as laptops, desktop computers, monitors, televisions, printers and keyboards. These objects become hazardous if improperly discarded because they often contain mercury, cadmium, lead and other poisonous metals. 

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Pennsylvania House Committee to Investigate ‘Ghost Flights’

A Pennsylvania House committee announced this week it will investigate cases of “ghost flights” of illegal immigrants, possibly including children, that reportedly landed in the Keystone State.

The state House Government Oversight Committee accepted a referral from House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Quarryville) and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Bellefonte) which voiced concern about media accounts of nighttime air delivery of persons who unlawfully entered the United States. Cutler and Benninghoff observed that whistleblowers have suggested these flights into the commonwealth’s northeastern region, allegedly chartered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), contain minors as well as adults. The individuals were reported to have been driven out of state after arriving.

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Pennsylvania House Votes Overwhelmingly to Hold Krasner in Contempt

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 162 to 38 on Tuesday to hold Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) in contempt for failing to comply with a committee subpoena. 

The vote came just hours after Pennsylvania’s House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order voted to recommend holding Krasner in contempt. Panel members have asked the prosecutor’s office to provide them with various documents including grand-jury records concerning the upcoming homicide trial of former police officer Ryan Pownall who shot and killed 30-year-old illegal-firearm carrier David Jones during a foot chase in 2018. Krasner balked at the committee’s request and is suing in Commonwealth Court to nullify it. 

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Won’t Fast-Track Hearing for Proposed Abortion Amendment

Pro-lifers and scored a momentary win this week as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided against bypassing the Commonwealth Court and hearing a case against a proposed constitutional amendment. 

The Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia were among organizations that filed amicus briefs with the majority-Democrat Supreme Court urging it to make Governor Tom Wolf (D) first take his case to the Republican-controlled lower court. In that forum, judges will rule on the validity of a proposed amendment stating that the commonwealth does not confer a constitutional right to abortion.

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Representative to Introduce Bill to Rid Pennsylvania School Libraries of Obscene Content

State Representative Barbara Gleim (R-PA-Carlisle) on Friday proposed legislation to forbid Pennsylvania school libraries from possessing “highly sexual” or otherwise obscene content.

The lawmaker took care to point out that she does not intend to rid schools all content that pertains to sex in any way. 

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Pennsylvania State Representative Proposes Bill to Lighten Businesses’ Unemployment Obligations

State Representative Tim Twardzik (R-PA-Frackville) this week proposed legislation to lighten the burden of unemployment compensation (UC) on businesses that have seen major rate increases since COVID-19 hit in 2020. 

Twardzik indicated his bill will be similar to legislation that state Senator David Argall (R-PA-Mahanoy City) has introduced in his chamber. 

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Pennsylvania Senate Bill Proposed to Address First-Responder Shortage

State Senator Michele Brooks (R-PA-Greenville) is encouraging colleagues to back two upcoming bills she proposes to allay shortages of first responders in Pennsylvania. 

The first piece of legislation concerns insufficiencies among volunteer-firefighter companies. In a memorandum to fellow senators asking them to cosponsor her bills, the senator noted that certain professionals including corrections officers undergo rudimentary training in fire suppression. Nonetheless, that instruction does not yet count toward the over 200 training hours that aspiring volunteer firefighters must acquire in order to qualify. Brooks’s bill would make workers’ basic-firefighting lessons applicable to those seeking to join local fire departments. 

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Pennsylvania House Republicans: Krasner Is Suing to Skirt Accountability

Pennsylvania Republican legislators seeking solutions to the crime and violence in Philadelphia that have spilt into other communities across the Keystone State denounced city District Attorney Larry Krasner this weekend for suing to escape their oversight. 

GOP General Assembly members, who allege Krasner has demonstrated a “willful refusal to enforce Pennsylvania’s criminal laws,” have made clear they want to impeach the far-left prosecutor and introduced a resolution to that effect months ago. They however almost certainly lack the two-thirds of Senate votes to do so. 

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Oz Pennsylvania Senate Campaign Blasts Fetterman for Hiring Two Convicted Murderers

Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz’s campaign on Thursday excoriated his opponent, Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, for bringing on two convicted murderers as campaign staffers. 

The celebrity surgeon and the National Republican Senate Committee cited Federal Election Commission filings indicating the lieutenant governor’s campaign employs Lee and Dennis Horton, who were both convicted of second-degree murder in 1993, having been found to have aided Robert Leaf in a theft-related killing of a man before fleeing the scene. 

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Bucks County Lawmakers Propose Mandatory Prison for Unlawful Gun Possession in Pennsylvania

Two state legislators with districts just northeast of violence-plagued Philadelphia announced this week they plan to introduce legislation mandating prison time for anyone convicted of keeping a firearm illegally in the Keystone State.

Representatives Frank Farry (R-Langhorne) and Kathleen “K.C.” Tomlinson (R-Bensalem) propose sentences of under two years for a first breach of gun-possession restrictions. Recidivists, however, would incur longer terms.

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Bill Proposed to Compensate the Wrongfully Convicted in Pennsylvania

Two Pennsylvania state legislators on Friday proposed a law to facilitate compensation for those who the commonwealth imprisons based on wrongful convictions. 

Representatives Frank Ryan (R-Palmyra) and Regina Young (D-Philadelphia) plan to introduce the legislation to bring Keystone State policy into line with 38 other states that indemnify exonerated people. 

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Pennsylvania Business Leaders Alert Lawmakers to Prosperity Hindrances

Pennsylvania’s House Republican Policy Committee on Thursday heard testimony from several small-business executives Thursday suggesting that unemployment compensation (UC) taxes among other issues pose major impediments to economic growth in the Keystone State. 

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported this week, Pennsylvania has lagged behind other states in terms of making up economic ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2022, about 6.17 million Pennsylvanians held jobs, a 2.8-percent rise over the same month one year prior. National employment meanwhile increased 3.7 percent during that time. 

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School Choice Advocates Remind Philadelphia Parents of Options as District Workers Prepare to Strike

As unionized public-school staffers protest the School District of Philadelphia’s failure to assent to the union’s salary and training terms, threatening to strike at the beginning of the school year, school-choice advocates are reminding parents of alternatives.

Bus drivers, custodians, maintenance staff and other workers represented by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ have authorized a strike that could compromise the resumption of schooling that is scheduled for next Monday. Pro-strike workers insist they are underpaid, noting that cleaners make roughly $16,000 per year at the low end. At the high end, construction inspectors make approximately $70,000.

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Report: Pennsylvania Job Openings Continue to Fall

A report released Monday by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) shows that new Keystone-State employment opportunities fell in June, marking a three-month overall decline.

Examining numbers from the federal Department of Labor, the IFO found that around 393,000 new jobs opened in June. Although that number exceeds the 281,000-per-month average for job openings that preceded COVID-19 in 2020, it continues a downward slope that began after new employment offerings reached 514,000 in March.

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Court Orders Three Pennsylvania Counties to Count Undated Ballots

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Friday ordered three counties that declined to count undated absentee ballots to count them.

Republican Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer issued the ruling affecting Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties. Last month, Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) sued the three jurisdictions to compel them to include votes delivered in undated envelopes in their May 17 primary results. 

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DeSantis: Electing Mastriano an ‘Opportunity to Make Pennsylvania Free’

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) came to Pittsburgh this weekend to argue that his success governing Florida needs to be replicated in Pennsylvania and that state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-PA-Gettysburg) is the man to do it. 

The Adams County lawmaker is running against Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, someone who Mastriano and DeSantis believe will intensify the liberal governance the Keystone State has underwent during Tom Wolf’s eight-year administration. 

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DeSantis to Rally with Vance in Ohio and Mastriano in Pennsylvania

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is coming through western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio on Friday, August 19, to speak at two rallies, one for Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano and the other for Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance. 

The conservative activist organization Turning Point Action is hosting the events. In a statement, turning Point founder and president Charlie Kirk expressed his gladness to facilitate the rallies and his hope that DeSantis’s endorsement will “unite conservatives” around Mastriano and Vance.

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Cook Report Signals Trouble for Oz, Though Fetterman’s Had a Rough Return to the Campaign Trail

The Cook Political Report this week changed its description of the Pennsylvania Senate race from “toss up” to “lean Democrat,” signaling trouble for Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, even as Democrat John Fetterman struggles with his return to the campaign trail. 

Cook’s shifting outlook on the Senate contest is partly a response to figures on the FiveThirtyEight data-analysis website showing that Oz, a celebrity doctor, trails Fetterman, the lieutenant governor, by an average of 11.5 percentage points. 

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Pennsylvania Considers Open Primary Legislation

State Rep. Chris Quinn (R-PA-Media) this week testified before legislative colleagues in favor of his bill to open Pennsylvania primaries to voters who choose not to affiliate with a political party. 

About 1.2 million voters in Pennsylvania decline to register as members of either major party and over 740,000 consider themselves nonpartisan or independent. Quinn said he finds it troubling that current law requires many taxpayers to fund GOP and Democratic primaries while excluding those independents from participation in nominating elections. 

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Pennsylvania Legislator Proposes Abortion Insurance Mandate and Training Program

Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler (D-PA-Philadelphia) proposed two bills to promote abortion in the Keystone state: an abortion training program and a bill to require insurers to cover abortion without cost sharing. 

In a memorandum seeking cosponsors for her training measure, the democratic socialist representative from south Philadelphia indicated the legislation would bestow funding on the state Department of Health to provide medical professionals with up-to-date abortion instruction.

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Allan Domb Resigns from Philadelphia City Council, Anticipating Mayoral Run

Philadelphia City Councilman Allan Domb (D-At Large) announced this week he will leave his seat Tuesday as he considers a potential 2023 mayoral campaign. 

The luxury real-estate executive submitted his letter of resignation to Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5) on Monday. Therein, he celebrated what he considered his successes while on the city’s legislative board, including wage and corporate tax reduction, fiscal waste mitigation and increased public-education funding. Yet, he lamented, the City of Brotherly Love has further strides to make particularly concerning public safety. 

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State Representative Proposes Emergency Response Devices for Pennsylvania Schools

State Rep. Karen Boback (R-PA-Dallas) on Friday proposed legislation to equip Pennsylvania K-12 public schools with emergency response devices. 

The representative modeled her bill on “Alyssa’s Law,” named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who was killed in the mass shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018. Alyssa’s Law, which Florida, New York, New Jersey and Nebraska have already enacted, requires all elementary and secondary schools to install panic alarms which are connected to area law-enforcement agencies. 

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State Representative Pushes to Constitutionally Eliminate Pennsylvania School Property Taxes

State Representative Frank Ryan (R-PA-Palmyra) this week proposed amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to eliminate the portion of property taxes collected by localities to fund public schools.

In February, Ryan sponsored another bill to abolish school property taxes by statute; that measure has yet to receive a vote in the House of Representatives Finance Committee. While enacting a statute requires majority assent of the House and Senate and the signature of the governor, amending the state Constitution requires House and Senate approval in two consecutive sessions. The policy would then go before Pennsylvania voters as a ballot question for approval or rejection and the governor would play no role in that process.

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Pennsylvania House Republicans Want Education Secretary’s Gender Policy Reversed — or His Resignation

Twenty Republican members of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week called on acting Pennsylvania Education Secretary Eric Hagarty to reverse controversial state guidelines concerning schools’ treatment of sex and gender. 

On a webpage titled “Creating Gender-Inclusive Schools and Classrooms,” the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) calls “binary gender,” e.g., the idea that gender and biological sex are properly denoted as either “male” or “female,” a “faulty concept.” The document also suggests that teachers host a “gender-neutral day” for students above the second grade wherein kids would identify ways in which they will eschew gender stereotypes on that day. Elsewhere, the guidance counsels teachers to ask a student his or her gender identity before assuming the right pronouns by which to call the child. 

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Pennsylvania Governor and Business Leaders Celebrate Corporate Tax Reduction

Pennsylvania business advocates joined Governor Tom Wolf (D) at the York County Economic Alliance on Monday to welcome an upcoming change in tax policy championed by entrepreneurs across the commonwealth.

Via the new budget agreed to this summer by Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly, Pennsylvania will begin a decade-long phased halving of its corporate net income tax (CNIT). Of the forty-four states with a business income tax, the size of the Keystone State’s current 9.99-percent rate is second only to New Jersey’s 11.5-percent tax. Besides these two states, only four others levy top business income tax rates that exceed nine percent.

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Pennsylvania House Democrat Introduces Bill to Create Gun Purchase Permits

Pennsylvania state Representative Emily Kinkead (D-Pittsburgh) announced on Friday that she will sponsor a bill to require residents to obtain permits to buy guns. 

Her legislation is a companion to a Senate measure authored by Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia). The senator began touting his legislation the day after the May school shooting in Uvalde, TX in which an 18-year-old killed 19 children and two teachers. 

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Senators Introduce Pennsylvania Data Privacy Measure

Two Pennsylvania legislators this week proposed a law to protect consumers’ data from merchants who collect such information.

Authored by Senators Maria Collett (D-North Wales) and Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem), the bill would ensure Pennsylvania consumers are informed about what personal information businesses collect. The policy would also require disclosure of any entities to whom the data is being sold and allow customers to decline to have any of their information trafficked or utilized for profit. Selling the data of consumers under the age of 16 would be prohibited outright.

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After Pennsylvania Court Ruling on Absentee Voting, Republicans Renew Call for Reform

This week’s decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upholding Act 77 which legalized no-excuse absentee voting in the Keystone State is spurring Republican lawmakers to renew their push for election reform. 

A Republican-led legislature passed and Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 77 three years ago. Moderate Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Bethlehem) initially drafted the bill to get rid of straight-party voting, a policy on which Republican legislators largely agreed with her. More Democrats came around to support the measure once a section was added allowing voters to cast mail-in ballots without providing a reason they could not come to the polls (i.e., illness, injury or travel). 

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Mastriano Denounces Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Gender Policies

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) on Tuesday denounced guidelines the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has outlined for the treatment of controversial gender issues in public schools. 

The senator, who is running for governor against Democratic state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, particularly objected to recommendations that teachers consider utilizing nonconventional pronouns like “ne, ve, ze and xe” that some who claim to be neither male nor female have begun using to refer to themselves. Mastriano also criticized Governor Tom Wolf (D) and PDE for denying the link between biological sex and the gendered terms (i.e., male and female) that correspond to it. 

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Pennsylvania Governor Promotes Abortion with Lawsuit and Executive Order

As the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania General Assembly advances a constitutional amendment to preserve its ability to restrict abortion, Governor Tom Wolf (D) is suing to defeat that amendment and taking executive action in favor of the practice. 

Keystone State governors typically don’t play a role in the constitutional-amendment process. If both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate pass an amendment in two consecutive sessions, the commonwealth submits the measure as a ballot question for voters to accept or reject at the ballot box. If a majority agrees to it, the amendment becomes law, with or without gubernatorial blessing. 

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Third Parties Merge in Pennsylvania, with Candidacies Potentially Coming Soon

As three national political third parties proceed with a merger they announced last week, several independent state-legislative candidates are seeking approval to run under the Forward Party banner in Pennsylvania.

The expanding centrist political organization includes the Forward Party, founded by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang; the Renew America Movement, founded by several former Republican public officials; and the Serve American Movement (SAM), currently led by former Republican Florida Congressman David Jolly. Yang and former Republican New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman will co-chair the newly consolidated party. 

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Pennsylvania State-Related Universities Going Ahead with Tuition Hikes

Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities are moving ahead with tuition increases in spite of Republican lawmakers’ exhortations that they freeze their prices. 

Earlier this week, state Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) sent a letter to the administrators of Temple University, Lincoln University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University to urge them not to further economically burden students or their families as inflation rages. Soon thereafter, GOP leaders of the state House of Representatives sent their own message to the four schools which operate independently but rely heavily on state funding.

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Veteran-Benefit Bill That Would’ve Facilitated Miscellaneous Spending Blocked; Pennsylvania Senator Toomey Urges Refocusing It

On Wednesday, a U.S. Senate vote to proceed with veteran-benefits legislation failed to receive the 60 votes needed for cloture, as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and other fiscal conservatives noted the PACT Act would have permitted up to $400 billion to be spent on unrelated programs.

Earlier this week, Toomey urged Senate colleagues to accept his proposed amendment to keep the bill focused entirely on aiding those who served in the Armed Forces.

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Mastriano to State-Related Universities: Ditch Tuition Hikes

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) this week wrote to Pennsylvania’s four state-related universities to urge them to abandon their planned tuition increases and freeze in-state tuition in light of skyrocketing inflation.

The senator noted that the Keystone State’s Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget allots $600 million in total to Lincoln University, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania State University. Those institutions are also getting $40 million in new discretionary funding from Gov. Tom Wolf (D). With such generous state subsidies, Mastriano reasoned, partially public universities should make every effort to avoid putting new pressures on students and their families.

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Bill to Mandate Human Trafficking Awareness Training in Lodging Introduced in Pennsylvania

State Sen. Judy Schwank (D-PA-Reading) announced on Monday she will introduce a bill mandating that Pennsylvania hotel and motel businesses train their workers in human-trafficking awareness. 

Human trafficking, an industry the International Labour Office believes to generate $150 billion each year, is a form of slavery whereby human beings are defrauded or coerced into servitude that is often sexual in nature. The U.S. Department of State estimates that about 25 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. Of those, nearly a third are children or teenagers and roughly half are women. 

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Fetterman’s Anti-Fracking History a Vulnerability in Pennsylvania Senate Race

John Fetterman handily won campaigns for mayor of heavily Democratic Braddock, PA in the 2000s and 2010s and won two statewide Pennsylvania primaries, one for lieutenant governor in 2018 and another for U.S. senator this year. His history of opposing hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking” to extract natural gas didn’t burden him in those races. 

But now the Democratic lieutenant governor faces a general election for U.S. Senate against Republican celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz. And although Fetterman now says he does not support prohibiting fracking, his past support for a fracking ban promises to complicate his appeal to working Keystone Staters on whose livelihoods fossil-fuel development depends. 

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Pennsylvania Democrat Wants to Curtail Police’s Rights to Use Deadly Force

Pennsylvania state Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) this week proposed legislation to curtail police officers’ ability to use deadly force.

In a memorandum on his upcoming bill, he suggests that current state law empowers police to act as “judge, jury and executioner” of fleeing suspects.

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Proposal Would Bar Pennsylvania Counties That Ban Gas Drilling from Getting Gas Revenues

Pennsylvania state Sen. Gen Yaw (R-Williamsport) this week announced he is authoring a bill to bar any county that bans natural-gas development on county-owned lands from getting certain natural-gas revenues. 

Specifically, Yaw’s proposal would prevent those jurisdictions from receiving allocations from the commonwealth’s gas-drilling impact fee, including any grants from the Marcellus Legacy Fund that finances regional environmental improvement projects. Revenues collected from the levy on companies extracting gas from the sedimentary rock known as Marcellus Shale totaled $234.4 million last year. The fee has brought nearly $2.3 billion into the state Treasury over the last decade.

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New Report: Pennsylvania Suffers from ‘Myriad of Election Issues’

Pennsylvania House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove (R-York) released a report Tuesday detailing “a myriad of election issues” in the Keystone State. 

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Building, Grove reviewed his findings, including inconsistent vote-counting rules, ballot harvesting, fraud and administrative errors. The new report is the third he has issued concerning election problems since November 2020. 

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Fetterman Condition Prompts Pennsylvania State Senators to Consider State Disability Procedures

Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee on Monday heard expert testimony on possible changes to the state’s rules for handling instances when the governor or lieutenant governor cannot perform his or her duties.

The issue has become especially salient ever since Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) suffered a stroke on May 13. He recovered but only gradually returned to his job and to his U.S. Senate campaign. He missed 18 session days as presiding officer of the Pennsylvania Senate, leaving him out of the conclusion of budget deliberations.

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Pennsylvania Toughens DUI Sentences

Pennsylvania state Reps. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) and Chris Quinn (R-Media) on Friday lauded area lawmakers and activists for their work toward enactment of “Deana’s Law” which toughens drunk-driving sentences.

The new act is named after Deana DeRosa Eckman, a 45-year-old Delaware County resident who died in a February 2019 car collision caused by six-time Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI) offender David Strowhouer in Upper Chichester Township. Strowhouer had a blood-alcohol content of 0.199, more than twice the level the commonwealth permits, and was driving 80 miles per hour before striking Eckman’s vehicle head-on. 

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Pennsylvania Department of State Sues Counties to Count Undated Ballots

Pennsylvania’s Department of State this week filed a lawsuit against three counties, all controlled by Republicans, to count undated absentee ballots.

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman (D) wants Berks, Fayette and Lancaster counties to follow the rest of the state in counting votes delivered in undated envelopes toward the official tallies for candidates nominated in May 17’s primaries. A Pennsylvania law requiring absentee and mail-in voters to date their ballot envelope has underwent significant court scrutiny over the last two years.

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Pennsylvania IFO Study: Labor Force Down by 120,000 Since Year Before COVID

A report released this week by Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) indicates that 120,000 fewer residents are working or actively seeking work than in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The study showed the state’s labor force participate rate (LFPR) for those aged 16 and older to be 63 percent in May 2019 and to have declined to 61.9 percent one year later. That percentage has continued gradually decreasing — to 61.8 percent in May 2021 and to 61.7 percent two months ago.

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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Compromise Bill Banning Outside Election Funding

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) this week signed legislation banning nongovernmental entities from issuing grants for election administration and also creating a state-run grant program to meet such administrative needs.

State Senators Lisa Baker (R-Dallas) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-Jacobus) sponsored the measure in response to revelations that left-leaning nonprofits like the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) bestowed large sums of money on localities across the nation in 2020. (Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, contributed $350 million to the organization that year.) Most CTCL grants going to Pennsylvania counties subsidized election administration in Democrat-heavy areas.

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Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment Would Stipulate: No Right to Abortion

A state constitutional amendment that passed both houses of the state legislature last week stipulates that Pennsylvania recognizes neither a right to abortion nor to public funding of abortion.

The legislation stops short of a ban on either surgical or chemically induced abortions but ensures that lawmakers may enact restrictions uninhibited by courts.

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Pennsylvania Governor Signs Budget

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) on Friday signed Pennsylvania’s $45 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23.

The governor and Republican-controlled legislature were only able to agree to the fiscal blueprint a week after the June 30 deadline. Revenues covering budget items include $42.8 billion in state taxpayer dollars and $2 billion in federal money. 

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Pennsylvania Legislature Sends Bill Banning Towns’ Anti-Natural Gas Measures to Governor

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week passed a bill barring municipalities from adopting measures that restrict the use of natural gas or other energy sources.

The House approved the legislation by a vote of 117 to 83, with the Republican majority almost entirely supportive. The bill originated in the state Senate, having passed that chamber last October by a vote of 35 to 15. It awaits Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature or veto.

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