Two popular school-choice programs for Pennsylvania students would get regular annual funding increases – expanding access to thousands of families – under legislation a state Senate committee approved yesterday.
Sen. Mike Regan’s (R-Dillsburg) bill would automatically raise allocations to the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) by 25 percent each year, provided at least 90 percent of obtainable scholarships have been utilized the year before. Regan estimated his funding rise would amount to $100 million more annually—about 0.3 percent of what the commonwealth spends on public education. His measure passed the Senate Education Committee by a party-line vote of seven to four and awaits a vote of the full chamber. Read More
Outrage at Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s (D) leniency toward criminals has driven Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) to call for the prosecutor’s impeachment.
Corman sent a letter to leaders of the GOP-run state House of Representatives asking them to seek Krasner’s removal. In his missive, the lawmaker deplored the city’s sharp present rise in violent crime and said the district attorney has played a major role in that spike by allowing many offenders to escape punishment. Read More
Sean Parnell, a former candidate for U.S. Senate who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, backed recently-declared candidate Dave McCormick in the same race.
McCormick will take on former lieutenant governor contender Jeff Bartos, political commentator Kathy Barnette, former ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, and cardiac surgeon Mehmet Oz, and multiple other candidates. Read More
Pennsylvania student loan borrowers will receive over $70 million in relief as part of a national settlement with Navient, one of the nation’s largest student loan servicers.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Navient will provide $1.85 billion to resolve allegations of unfair, deceptive, and abusive loan servicing practices dating back more than a decade.
“Navient repeatedly and deliberately put profits ahead of its borrowers – it engaged in deceptive and abusive practices, targeted students who it knew would struggle to pay loans back, and placed an unfair burden on people trying to improve their lives through education,” Shaprio said in a statement. Read More
Pennsylvania state Reps. Benjamin Sanchez (D-Abington) and Joe Webster (D-Collegeville) are planning to introduce a bill to remove male and female designations from Pennsylvania birth certificates.
The two Montgomery-County lawmakers say their proposal would not affect notations of biological sex on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth system that is used to gather medical and other statistics. Read More
Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee contractor Envoy Sage cannot yet gather data from Fulton County’s election devices according to a Friday order of the state Supreme Court.
That directive stays part of a recent Commonwealth-Court ruling that allows the investigation to proceed. Fulton County’s commissioners have voted to comply with the Senate probe, which is part of a broader examination of the 2020 and 2021 Pennsylvania elections and has been spearheaded by the committee’s Republican Chairman Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro). The Democrat-run Pennsylvania Department of State and the voting machines’ manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems are litigating to stop it. Read More
A Philadelphia chef used his large Instagram platform to chastise Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) dining in Maryland, where COVID-19 restrictions are less stringent than they are in the City of Brotherly Love.
“Glad you’re enjoying indoor dining with no social distancing or mask wearing in Maryland tonight while restaurants here in Philly close, suffer and fight for every nickel just to survive,” Marc Vetri said, tagging Kenney in the post. “I guess all your press briefings and your narrative of unsafe indoor dining don’t apply to you. Thank you for clearing it all up for us tonight.” Read More
Parents are suing the North Allegheny School District over its decision to lift the district’s mandatory mask mandate beginning next week, a move they claim could be “a death sentence” for severely immunocompromised students.
Attorney and district parent Kenneth Behrend filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on behalf of about 1,500 students covered by protections in the American Disabilities Act in an effort to halt the Sunday expiration of the district’s mask mandate. Read More
State Senator Ryan Aument (R-Lititz) on Thursday introduced legislation that will expand parents’ access to school choice during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure, Senate Bill 1015, will create an Education Savings Account, allowing parents to potentially receive funding to send their children to schools that are better equipped to address their child’s needs. Read More
Dave McCormick, a businessman and former Bush administration official, officially launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
In the Thursday announcement, McCormick entered the crowded GOP primary field that includes almost a dozen Republican candidates. Read More
Across the Keystone State, more and more observers are raising concerns about the proposed district map for state representatives.
The redistricting plan, crafted by a majority-Democrat Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), has received reproach for unduly advantaging Democratic candidates, lacking competitiveness and diluting minority-voter strength. The period during which the LRC is hearing public comments on the map continues until next Tuesday, Jan. 18. Read More
Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives yesterday passed a new congressional map, though without the support of any Democrats and with indications of disapproval from Gov. Tom Wolf (D).
Two southeastern Republican representatives, Chris Quinn (Media) and Todd Stephens (Horsham) joined the Democrats in opposition. The plan must pass the GOP-led state Senate and receive the governor’s signature to go into effect this year. Read More
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court green-lighted the state Senate Republicans’ election probe this week; the state Supreme Court has meanwhile declined to take up the remapping of congressional districts.
As a result of the Commonwealth Court’s ruling, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee may proceed with its subpoenas of voter records. The Supreme Court’s decision means Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will likely have to work out a compromise with the Republican state legislature on congressional reapportionment. Read More
State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) formally launched his campaign for Pennsylvania governor, joining a crowded GOP primary field.
The state lawmaker on Saturday announced his intentions to a room of hundreds of supporters in Gettysburg. Read More
The Founder and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the cybersecurity firm tapped by the Arizona State Senate to audit Maricopa County’s 2020 presidential election tallies, told The Star News Network his company shut down because the Republican-controlled State Senate did not fulfill its contractual obligations to the firm.
“At the end of the day, this is the call of Senator Fann,” said Doug Logan, speaking of Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann. Logan told employees in early December that the company would close its doors unless the State Senate fulfilled its contractual obligations. Read More
Yesterday, a Pennsylvania House of Representatives panel passed a series of redistricting and election reforms, including a bill establishing a citizens’ commission for redrawing legislative districts.
The redistricting bill, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York), chair of the House State Government Committee which vetted the measure, would ditch the current process for creating legislative-district maps. Such maps are drawn anew every decade in response to population shifts revealed by the U.S. Census. Presently, a five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC), made up of Republican and Democratic leaders from both state-legislative chambers and chaired by an appointee of the state Supreme Court, oversees district remapping. Read More
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will work with the federal government in order to address labor shortages in the healthcare sector amid another surge in coronavirus cases.
Wolf, who is partnering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will create “strike teams” to be sent to hospitals and long-term care facilities. Read More
Pennsylvania has launched a new $350 million program designed to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund (PAHAF) on Thursday after approval from the U.S. Department of Treasury. The fund utilizes $350 million from the American Rescue Plan Act distributed to Pennsylvania through the treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund to help homeowners avoid mortgage delinquencies, defaults and foreclosures, as well as for help paying utilities.
“As we continue to advance our COVID-19 recovery efforts, we must address the rising number of homeowners facing possible loss of their homes and foreclosure – this program will do just that,” Wolf said. “The Homeowner Assistance Fund will prioritize individuals and families with the greatest need, as well as those who are socially disadvantaged. I am grateful that the U.S. Treasury has approved Pennsylvania’s plan, and we can start the new year by distributing this critical funding to homeowners.” Read More
As the School District of Philadelphia labors to make its digital student-information system accord with expanding progressive concepts of gender, a right-leaning nonprofit is urging officials to refocus on academics.
In 2016, the district adopted a policy allowing students to pursue their “gender identity” and therein defined the term as “a person’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.” The new rule allows students of one biological sex identifying as another to access restrooms, locker rooms, gym classes and athletic programs consistent with the former rather than the latter. In 2020, several school employees reportedly asked Sarah Galbally, the district’s lobbyist, to push for recognizing a broader variety of gender identities in the student tracking system, something that couldn’t be done without tweaking state-education policy. Read More
A Pennsylvania state senator wants to ensure parents have the final say in how they raise their children by preventing government from superseding their authority.
Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, introduced Senate Bill 996 this week to explicitly define parental rights as fundamental rights, a move designed to protect decisions on education, health care, mental health and other issues. Read More
Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) on Thursday introduced new legislation with the goal of protecting the rights of parents throughout the state.
Senate Bill 996, known as the Parental Rights Protection Act, specifically describes and outlines certain parental rights as a “fundamental right” for residents of the state. Read More
Yesterday, Democrats in Pennsylvania and beyond recalled the Jan. 6, 2021 D.C-Capitol riot as an occasion to denounce voter-ID proposals and urge progressive reforms.
“Here’s the truth,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told an online audience at a panel hosted by leftist organizations including Better PA and the New Pennsylvania Project. “You can draw a straight line between the lies [and former President Donald Trump’s post-2020-election] litigation to the events of January the sixth. And now, you can continue that straight line to voter-suppression laws that are being passed by Republicans in state houses across the country.” Read More
ATLANTA, Georgia – Republican and declared Georgia gubernatorial candidate Vernon Jones on Wednesday called on the federal government – and not State Attorney General Chris Carr – to investigate new claims of ballot harvesting during the 2020 election. This, even though Jones and others allege that certain, unnamed individuals in Georgia broke state laws – and not federal ones. Read More
Clarice Schillinger, who last year helped to elect school directors across the state to get kids back into the classroom, announced this week she is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor.
For the Franklin County native who now lives in Montgomery County with her husband and children, Schillinger and her family felt firsthand the impact of schools closing in her own Hatboro-Horsham School District in reaction to COVID-19. She started the Keeping Kids in School PAC to endorse school-board candidates and formed Back to School PA PAC to provide financial support to school-director campaigns across Pennsylvania. Read More
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court this week ruled that 257 flawed ballots in a Lehigh County judgeship election cannot be counted, prompting Democratic candidate Zachary Cohen to announce a state Supreme-Court appeal.
Excluding these mail-in ballots, which contain no date on their return envelopes, puts Republican David Ritter 74 votes ahead of Cohen in their contest for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas judge, in which about 22,000 total votes were cast. Ritter initially sued in county court to exclude 261 ballots, four of which displayed a date, albeit not on the correct line. Trial Judge Edward D. Reibman (D) handed down a ruling favorable to Cohen, spurring Ritter to appeal to the Commonwealth Court which handles litigation between governing entities, public officials and candidates. Read More
Fifty Pennsylvania counties have joined a historic global opioid settlement that is expected to bring $1 billion to the state to fight the opioid crisis.
The $26 billion settlement involves the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen – as well as Johnson & Johnson. The agreement requires industry changes to help prevent a similar crisis in the future, in addition to the funds, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
“Pennsylvania lost 5,172 lives to overdoses in the last year alone, which is 14 Pennsylvanians a day. This settlement is going to provide resources to jumpstart programs that will change lives and impact families across our commonwealth who are struggling to find treatment and help for those struggling with substance abuse,” Shapiro said. “These funds will be earmarked to offer and expand life-saving treatment options, prioritizing the areas that have been most affected by this crisis.” Read More
Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court is expected to soon issue a decision on whether the state Senate Republicans’ 2020 election probe may continue.
Specifically, the judges must determine whether delivery of information subpoenaed by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee would breach voters’ privacy rights as state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) and other plaintiffs maintain. Read More
Penn State University (PSU) on Thursday announced that all students and staff members will return to campus and begin the semester on time.
Citing mitigation measures that are in currently place, Penn State President Eric Barron pledged to continue in-person learning for students at the university. Read More
Pennsylvania already exempts many medical supplies from its sales tax, but not COVID tests, a discrepancy legislation by Sen. Mario Scavello (R-East Stroudsburg) would eliminate.
Scavello’s bill would except rapid at-home COVID-19 antigen tests from the state’s six-percent sales levy. Healthcare devices, services and substances all generally don’t get taxed in the Keystone State. Read More
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf appointed Leigh Chapman to serve as Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, replacing Veronica Degraffenreid who accepted a different position in the Wolf administration.
In her position, Chapman will serve as the state’s top elections official. Read More
With homicides in Philadelphia, PA reaching a new record high this year, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has renewed his call for gun control, leaving progressive law-enforcement officials like Philadelphia’s infamously lenient District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) unmentioned.
As of Dec. 29, 557 murders took place in Philadelphia in 2021, a 10.4-percent increase over the 499 murders that occurred during 2020—a year that itself saw 143 more murders than the previous year. (Homicides in Philadelphia have not numbered as many as 500 since 1990.) Gun robberies, vehicle theft and retail theft have all risen significantly. Read More
The University of Pittsburgh will require all of its students to “shelter-in-place” upon their return for the school’s spring semester as the United States continues to break records for COVID-19 cases.
“A University-wide shelter-in-place period will begin on Saturday, Jan. 8 on all campuses for students in University housing,” the school said in a memo to students. “During the shelter-in-place period, students should only leave their rooms or apartments to attend classes, labs or clinicals in person (if in-person classes were approved by the dean of your school); pick up food; exercise safely; study in the library; work when necessary; and shop for essentials and medical needs.” Read More
Often at the center of controversy, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is facing transparency questions, along with leading state Republican lawmakers, after they signed nondisclosure agreements preventing them from informing taxpayers about a pricey new economic development initiative.
Whitmer, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, and House Speaker Jason Wentworth all signed the NDA with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation regarding a $1 billion business incentive program that became law last week, The Detroit News reported. Read More
Pennsylvania House GOP leaders announced this week that their caucus will hold field hearings on the proposed new legislative-district plan which stands to make House districts more winnable for Democrats.
The first House GOP Policy Committee hearing on the commission’s plan will take place on Tues., Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. at McCandless Town Hall at 9955 Grubbs Road in Wexford. The second will occur on Tues., Jan. 11 at 4 p.m. at the Upper Allen Township Building at 100 Gettysburg Pike in Mechanicsburg. Read More
A CNN producer who was busted by Project Veritas for sending lewd text messages to a woman about his now ex-fiancée’s underage daughter is no longer with the media outlet.
“Rick Saleeby does not work for CNN. He resigned from his position two weeks ago,” CNN’s Head of Strategic Communications Matt Dornic confirmed Wednesdays to The Virginia Star. Read More
Congressional candidate Jim Bognet this week denounced transport of illegal aliens into Pennsylvania and rebuked his prospective opponent Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) for inattention to the issue.
The Republican attorney and small-business owner who challenged Cartwright in 2020 aims to do so again next year and is taking the Democrat to task for his pro-open-borders record and his general alignment with President Joe Biden on migration and border security. A Hazleton native, Bognet said illegal immigration has palpably burdened parts of the Keystone State’s northeast. He called for a return to the tighter security policies pursued by former President Donald Trump and for the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Read More
Two Western Pennsylvania hunting clubs are suing the Pennsylvania Game Commission claiming unconstitutional warrantless searches of private property.
The Punxsutawney Hunting Club and neighboring Pitch Pine Hunting Club filed suit against the game commission and conservation officer Mark Gritzer alleging Gritzer repeatedly entered clearly marked private property to investigate club members for wildlife violations.
Gritzer issued one hunter a citation for having no hunting license or identification and another for carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle, while other members were approached and issued warnings for minor issues, according to the lawsuit, filed last week. Read More
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid (D), in answering a lawsuit concerning congressional redistricting Monday, indicated interest in having the state Supreme Court once again redraw district lines.
Petitioners have complained of an impasse between the Gov. Tom Wolf (D) and the GOP-led General Assembly on creating new districts and Degraffenreid’s attorneys have suggested agreement on the plaintiffs’ suggestion that Pennsylvania’s high court must finally decide. Read More
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that will help expand access to broadband internet throughout the state.
House Bill 2071, sponsored by a trio of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, will establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, an agency that will help award grants to underserved areas throughout the state. Read More
An Allegheny County legislator indicated last week that he is preparing to offer legislation to iron out complexities in Pennsylvania’s tax system.
State Rep. Robert Mercuri (R-Wexford) has underscored the current lack of conformity between Pennsylvania’s tax rules and those of the federal government. The chief concern the lawmaker said his upcoming bill would address is reforming the Keystone State’s legal treatment of depreciation of corporations’ assets and of property transferred or sold during a taxable year.
“It is essential that we take steps now to make it simple and advantageous to do business within the Commonwealth, positioning our communities for investment and growth as we continue to recover from the economic uncertainty that has arisen as a result of COVID-19 policies,” Mercuri wrote in a memorandum to fellow House members. Read More
Four different government agencies in western Pennsylvania will receive grants for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), totaling than $1.5 million.
Armstrong, Washington, Mercer, and Allegheny Counties will be the destination of the funds administered through the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs. Read More
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is again urging the Republican-controlled General Assembly to increase the commonwealth’s minimum wage, claiming anything under $15 an hour isn’t enough to support a family. Read More
Dozens of individuals have reported issues with Pennsylvania’s unemployment system, as repeated mishaps have caused delays in payments.
The technical issues created by the website and the agency’s failure to provide payments have caused individuals to have limited or no income during the holiday season. Read More
The Pennsylvania congresswoman who was the victim of a Wednesday carjacking has a long history of advocating for far-left “criminal justice reform” policies.
“I’m coming right now from a hearing on criminal justice reform and what we can do to address some of these issues of mass incarceration, which have, you know, plagued our society and overtaxed our prisons over the last couple decades,” Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-05) said in March of 2020. Read More
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) this week vetoed legislation that would have directed school districts to publish their curricula online.
State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Harrisburg) sponsored the bill to provide a “standardized, simple and user-friendly” means for residents to review the general lesson plans and the titles of textbooks to which children in their districts are subject. New or revised plans would have had to appear online within 30 days of their approval. The representative has observed that many parents have publicly voiced frustration about their inability to ascertain their kids’ curricula ahead of time, with some speaking to him directly about the issue. Read More
Through Ohio attorneys representing Miami University in a lawsuit against the school over its mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy, The Ohio Star confirmed that at least none batches of Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccine were deemed Biologics License Application (BLA) compliant.
BLA compliance is typically reserved for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs. That is the licensing procedure for drugs seeking to become FDA approved. Read More
Pennsylvania state Rep. David Zimmerman (R-East Earl) this week proposed a measure enabling prosecution of those who kill or injure an unborn child while committing a non-homicidal crime against the mother.
Current law only allows murder charges for killing an unborn human when the perpetrator is also charged with murdering that child’s mother. Criminal acts against an expecting mother causing a pre-born child’s death that Zimmerman’s legislation would cover include assault, fatal drug delivery and reckless endangerment, according to a memorandum to Pennsylvania House members. Read More
The trial of former police officer Kim Potter may end in a hung jury after jurors finished their second day of deliberation, asking the judge what to do if the jury could not agree on a verdict. Read More
Two former Greenfield Township wastewater treatment plant employees were found guilty of multiple Clean Water Act violations and wire fraud.
The father-son duo, Bruce Evans, Sr., and Bruce Evans, Jr., routinely failed to follow guidelines imposed by the environmental law and restrictions imposed in a permit issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the United States Environmental Protections Agency (EPA). Read More
Pennsylvania state Reps. Dan Miller (D-Mt. Lebanon) and Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia) are preparing to introduce legislation that would mitigate several features of the commonwealth’s criminal-justice system for minors.
The two Democrats would limit juvenile probation to one year for misdemeanors and to 1.5 years for felonies, stop levying nearly any juvenile court fees or fines and raise the age at which children are subject to juvenile court to 13. Under their proposal, criminal prosecution would not be an option for anyone under the age of 10. Read More