Math Behind Pennsylvania’s Rainy Day Fund Deposit in Dispute

Lawmakers and Gov. Josh Shapiro find themselves at odds once again over the amount the administration deposited into the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

The Office of the Budget said Thursday it transferred $411.6 million into the savings account, or about 10% of the $4.1 billion revenue surplus left over on June 30 – the end of the prior fiscal year.

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Pennsylvania State Order Embraces Artificial Intelligence

The governor’s administration says the state should encourage the responsible use of artificial intelligence throughout its agencies, rather than turn a blind eye to its capabilities.

Thus, a new executive order was born, Gov. Josh Shapiro said, which represents “the most comprehensive” action taken at the state level to incorporate AI programs.

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Pennsylvania Issues $1.6 Million Food Insecurity Grants

State grants issued this week will help counties feed some of the 1.5 million residents facing food insecurity every day.

On Tuesday, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced that $1.6 million will go to 40 food banks, pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens to make emergency meals easier to get in 26 counties. 

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Pennsylvania Launches ‘Automatic Voter Registration’ Plan Ahead of 2024

Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday that he will implement “automatic voter registration” ahead of the 2024 election.

The governor rolled out his plan on National Voter Registration Day to “streamline” the voter registration process, which he argues will “save taxpayers time and money,” according to an announcement video. Shapiro’s plan will automatically enroll Pennsylvanians in the voting system, unless the individual opts out, when receiving an identification card or driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

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Pennsylvania College Credits No More for State Trooper Cadets

Broadening opportunities for aspiring law enforcement officers, Gov. Josh Shapiro this week removed the 60-credit minimum requirement for state trooper applicants.

“This is the finest law enforcement agency in the nation,” he said during a news conference. “We need to show those who want to serve that this door of opportunity is open – and we want you on our team.”

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Pennsylvania Moves to Shift Primary Date Up

A Pennsylvania state Senate committee unanimously voted Wednesday to move its presidential primary election up in 2024.

The State Government Committee approved the bill, proposed by Vice Chair Republican Sen. David Argall, which would change Pennsylvania’s presidential primary from late April to March 19, according to the state legislature’s website. The proposed new primary date for the third Tuesday in March comes just two weeks after Super Tuesday, when over a dozen states hold their nominating contests.

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Pennsylvania Waives Bus Driver Regulation amid Persistent Shortage

The pandemic revealed all sorts of problems in Pennsylvania’s education system. School districts struggling to recruit school bus drivers was an overlooked one, and the problem hasn’t abated. 

PennDOT, however, took a step forward recently in removing a licensing requirement that’s long been a stumbling block.

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More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Coming to Pennsylvania

Gov. Josh Shapiro said Monday Pennsylvania will spend $34 million on dozens of projects in the commonwealth to build out charging stations for electric vehicles.

The money is part a five-year, $172 million federal grant and the latest installment will support 54 projects in 35 counties.

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Pennsylvania Property Tax, Rent Rebate Expansion Crosses Finish Line

Seniors across Pennsylvania can officially look forward to 2024.

That’s because Gov. Josh Shapiro will finally sign a $134 million expansion of the state’s property tax and rent rebate program for low-income seniors and disabled residents that will go into effect in the new year.

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Budget Deal Teased in Pennsylvania

On the 28th day overdue, a key budget negotiator released a hopeful, albeit stern, message indicating a budget deal may come together in August after all.

Senate President Kim Ward, R-Greensburg, said Friday that Republican leaders in the chamber are “actively negotiating” with Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and “things are moving forward.”

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Pennsylvania Budget Deal Unlikely Before September

Both chambers of the General Assembly officially left Harrisburg for the summer — an ominous sign that the bipartisan wound won’t heal anytime soon.

The development comes nearly two weeks after the Senate recessed until mid-September, furious over Gov. Josh Shapiro’s default on a $45.5 billion budget deal — complete with a new $100 million school choice program he helped draft — amid resistance from Democratic leadership in the House.

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Pennsylvania Governor Drops School Voucher Push over Opposition from Teachers Unions

Pennsylvania Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro says he plans on dropping his push for private school vouchers from the state budget amid opposition from teachers unions and members of his own party.

The budget passed the state House and Senate on Wednesday after discussions had been deadlocked on the $100 million voucher program, local outlet Spotlight PA reported. 

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Republicans Lament Failure to Include Lifeline Scholarships in Pennsylvania Budget So Far

Just four days remain until June 30, Pennsylvania’s Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget deadline and much still divides Republicans who control the state Senate from Governor Josh Shapiro and his fellow Democrats who control the House of Representatives. 

The school-choice debate is among the most concerning facets of budget negotiations so far for the GOP. Shapiro indicated last year that he wanted the commonwealth to create “lifeline scholarships,” i.e. a private-school choice program for economically disadvantaged students in poorly performing schools. Republicans hoped they could coalesce with him around the policy’s enactment.

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Senate Panel Recommends Schmidt as Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Votes for Anti-ERIC Bill

Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee on Monday recommended confirming secretary of the commonwealth nominee Al Schmidt.

The panel voted 10-1 to back the Republican acting secretary and former Philadelphia city commissioner. In a subsequent, off-the-floor meeting, the committee approved a bill to facilitate removal of Pennsylvania from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a controversial multi-state data-sharing program supporters say helps states maintain accurate voter rolls. The bill would permit the state to use the Social Security death database and change-of-address records to identify voter-registry errors.

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Pennsylvania House Democrats Pass Minimum Wage Hike, Republicans Fear Job Loss

Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives this week passed legislation raising the state minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 and permanently indexing it to inflation going forward. 

Currently, the Keystone State mandates $7.25 in minimum hourly pay for most workers. If the bill passes the state Senate it will receive the supportive Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro’s signature and become law. The measure, sponsored by Representative Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) will move the low-end wage to $11 per hour next January and $13 per hour the following January before bringing it to $15 the year after that. 

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Republican Lawmaker Want Pennsylvania Corporate Tax Reduced Further

State representative Dallas Kephart (R-PA-Clearfield) wants to reduce Pennsylvania’s corporate net income tax (CNIT) to four percent by 2025. 

Last year, lawmakers budgeted a gradual decrease in the CNIT from 9.99 percent to 4.99 percent over the coming decade. Before the change, the Keystone State charged corporations the highest state business tax in the U.S., behind New Jersey’s 11.5 percent rate. Now at 8.99 percent, Pennsylvania’s levy is 8.99 percent — the fifth highest. Assuming other states’ rates stay constant, Pennsylvania’s CNIT will end up roughly in the middle in terms of corporate taxes in 2031. 

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Two Pennsylvania State Senators Take Up Rail Safety Bill

Two Pennsylvania state senators announced this week they are introducing a companion bill to a house-passed measure designed to improve rail safety.

Senate action on the bill sponsored by State Senators Katie Muth (D-Royersford) and Lindsey Williams (D-Pittsburgh) would advance the legislation toward Governor Josh Shapiro’s (D) desk. The house version passed that chamber 141-62 earlier this month with the support of all Democratic representatives and a sizable minority of Republicans. 

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Pennsylvania GOP Senate to Tackle Budget That Overspends Shapiro Proposal by $1.1 Billion

At first, Keystone State Republicans viewed Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro’s Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget proposal with mere skepticism. This week, state House Democrats larded it with an extra $1.1 billion and passed it, making a fray between their chamber and the Republican-run Senate even more probable. 

The nearly $47 billion spending plan, approved by representatives along party lines, hikes spending by $5.7 billion over the current fiscal year, a more than a 13-percent increase. Members of the Republican minority excoriated their Democratic colleagues for rushing the plan to passage within six hours of its completion, a move they said reflected poor transparency. Representative Doyle Heffley (R-Weissport) spoke for many in his party when he called the House-passed plan a “poison pill” for Pennsylvania’s economy. 

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Committee Passes Pennsylvania Measure to Facilitate Ex-Prisoner Voting

Incarcerated Pennsylvanias regain their right to vote after release, but Democratic state representatives worry they don’t vote enough, so they advanced legislation on Monday addressing the issue.

Voting 12-9 along party lines, Pennsylvania’s House State Government Committee approved Representative Carol Kazeem’s (D-Chester) resolution to study ex-prisoner election participation. After the Joint State Government Commission completes its research, officials would use the the information gathered to develop policies to aid former inmates’ resumption of voting. 

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School Choice Coalition Pressures Pennsylvania Governor for Support

An unorthodox coalition wants Gov. Josh Shapiro to put money behind the support he expressed for school choice on the campaign trail last year.

Advocates said Friday that letting children move to better schools should transcend partisan lines and is crucial for their futures.

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Pennsylvania GOP Officials Want Shapiro to Shore Up Rainy Day Fund

High-ranking Republican Pennsylvania officials sounded off on Wednesday in the state Capitol Building against Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget legislation which would deplete state reserve funds in five years.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity (R) and House Appropriations Minority Chair Seth Grove (R-York) observed that the scenario is rather sunny insofar as the Democratic governor’s projections don’t account for a potential recession. Shapiro’s calculations also assume government spending won’t surpass 2.36 percent in the next five years, a supposition so rosy it provoked Grove to snicker slightly. 

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McCormick Prospects Advance as Mastriano Declines Pennsylvania Senate Run

Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano’s Thursday announcement he won’t seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey next year vastly boosts potential GOP hopeful Dave McCormick’s prospects. 

“I know this will be disappointing for some,” Mastriano said of his decision in a Facebook Live broadcast. “At this moment, the way things are, I am not running for the U.S. Senate seat that is going to be vacated by Casey. We need to beat him.”

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Hears Tax-Versus-Fee Arguments About Whether RGGI Can Stand

Arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday, one state agency alleged another improperly refused to publish an executive action implementing a de facto carbon tax, effectively halting the polcy. 

At issue is a decision made by the Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) not to publicize a regulation decreed by then-Governor Tom Wolf (D) entering the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The LRB, which drafts all state legislation upon lawmakers’ requests and provides other policy reference services, declined to promulgate the rule enrolling the commonwealth in the multistate compact, citing a state House of Representatives resolution opposing it.

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Voter Data-Sharing System Issues Dominate Schmidt’s Pennsylvania Senate Confirmation Hearing

At Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt’s initial confirmation hearing on Wednesday, many senators inquired about the commonwealth’s participation in a controversial voter data-sharing program. 

Schmidt, a moderate Republican former Philadelphia city commissioner who subsequently was president of the left-leaning nonprofit Committee of Seventy, will sit for a second hearing covering non-electoral issues his department oversees (e.g., professional licensure). But Senate State Government Committee Chair Cris Dush (R-Bellefonte) suggested discussion of Pennsylvania’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) will come up then as well. 

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Possible Mastriano Senate Run Elicits Mixed Reactions Among Pennsylvania Conservatives

Pennsylvania state Senator Doug Mastriano’s plans to soon announce whether he’ll run for U.S. Senate next year have Pennsylvania’s movement conservatives brimming with feelings — not all of them positive. 

The Republican who represents Gettysburg, Chambersburg and surrounding communities suffered an overwhelming defeat last year when he ran for governor against Democrat Josh Shapiro. After Mastriano indicated he would publicly decide on a bid against Democratic Senator Bob Casey in just days, state Representative Russ Diamond (R-Jonestown) wrote a tweetstorm Monday urging fellow Republicans to entreat Mastriano not to run.

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Recreational Marijuana Legalization Proposed in Pennsylvania Senate

Pennsylvania state senators announced Friday they will draft a bill to legalize adults’ recreational use of marijuana. 

In a memorandum asking colleagues to join their effort, Senators Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) and Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) cited CBS News polling suggesting two-thirds of Keystone Staters from varied communities back legal cannabis intake. The senators suggested making pot licit could boost the commonwealth’s agriculture industry and generate scads of new tax revenue. They mentioned 2021 testimony by the state’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office averring that legal adult consumption could bring between $400 million to $1 billion into the state Treasury annually.

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$15-an-Hour Minimum Wage Bill Being Drafted in Pennsylvania House

A new bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour is emerging in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. 

Sponsored by Representative Patty Kim (D-Harrisburg), the bill as described in a memorandum appears similar to legislation Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) is spearheading in his chamber. It contrasts with a more radical measure authored by Representative Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) that would hike the wage floor to $16.50 in July 2025 and gradually increase it to $21 by mid-2028. The Rabb bill would also apply the state minimum wage to prisoners, vastly boosting their pay. 

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State Representative Urges Pennsylvania Governor to Attack Deficit with Zero-Based Budgeting He Used Before

Going into annual budget deliberations, Pennsylvania faces a structural deficit exceeding $1 billion, a problem Republicans say Governor Josh Shapiro (D) should address with a concept he once embraced: zero-based budgeting.

The practice involves setting initial the budget amount at zero and forcing agencies to justify each proposed expenditure rather than using the previous year’s budget as a base upon which to request spending increases. 

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Pennsylvania House Democrats Propose Letting ‘All Incarcerated Individuals’ Vote

Several Democratic lawmakers this week proposed legislation allowing all imprisoned Pennsylvania citizens to vote by absentee ballot. 

State Representatives Rick Krajewski (D-Philadelphia), Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia), Donna Bullock (D-Philadelphia), Jason Dawkins (D-Philadelphia) and Aerion Abney (D-Pittsburgh) announced they will cosponsor the bills. 

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Pennsylvania State Representatives Call for Federal Rail Safety Legislation

Three Republican Pennsylvania lawmakers are preparing to introduce a resolution calling on Congress to pass a new rail-safety statute in light of February’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. 

State Representative Jim Marshall (R-Beaver Falls) told The Pennsylvania Daily Star he is co-sponsoring the resolution to encourage an “all-in approach” to reduce the likelihood of freight-train accidents. State Representatives Natalie Mihalek (R-Pittsburgh) and Ryan Warner (R-Connellsville) spearhead the measure. 

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Committee Passes Accelerated Pennsylvania Corporate Tax Cut in Bipartisan Vote

In a bipartisan 8-3 vote on Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Senate Finance Committee passed legislation to speed the state’s reduction of its corporate net income tax (CNIT). 

Last year, as part of the Keystone State’s budget, lawmakers initiated a reduction of the CNIT from 9.99 percent to 4.99 percent over the next decade. Before the change, Pennsylvania had the second-highest state corporate tax in the U.S. behind New Jersey’s 11.5-percent rate. 

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Lawmakers Propose Reforms for Pennsylvania Budget Balance and Transparency

Several Republicans in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives are spearheading a package of proposed budgetary reforms to strengthen transparency and prevent fiscal imbalance. 

House Minority Appropriations Chair Seth Grove (R-York) announced the series of bills with Representatives James Struzzi (R-Indiana), Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg), Sheryl Delozier (R-Mechanicsburg) and John Lawrence (R-West Grove). The lawmakers suggested their proposals are needed to avert the budgetary problems that arose in Fiscal Year 2016-17. In that period, revenues to the state Treasury totaled $1.5 billion less than the forecast amount. 

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High Weed Tax in Pennsylvania May Repeat California’s Mistakes

A revenue analysis estimates that Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget proposal for adult-use cannabis could bring in more than $250 million annually — but legalization advocates aren’t so enthusiastic.

The concern is not about legalizing and regulating marijuana. Instead, it’s a worry that Pennsylvania will repeat the mistakes of high-tax states that have failed to move people from the illegal market into a regulated one.

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Pennsylvania State Senator Introduces Ban on Kratom Sales to Minors

A Pennsylvania state legislator is spearheading a bill to more stringently regulate the sale of the painkiller kratom.

The Kratom Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by state Senator Tracy Pennycuick (R-Red Hill), would ban the substance’s purveyance to anyone aged 21 or younger. The legislation would also limit the product’s potency, bar its combination with controlled chemicals and require its display of “adequate labeling directions for… safe and effective use….” 

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Curriculum Transparency Bill Proposed in Pennsylvania House

Two Pennsylvania State House members are preparing to introduce a bill to facilitate parents’ and taxpayers’ access to K-12 school curricula.

In a memorandum asking colleagues to cosponsor their measure, Representatives Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) and Jill Cooper (R-New Kensington) argue current school transparency requirements are inadequate. While state law mandates that school boards post policies governing curriculum review, district officials need not publish the actual syllabus or name the instructional texts. Districts must provide residents access to course outlines and texts, but that usually entails an interested party visiting the school. 

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Proposal Would Tackle False Pennsylvania Medicaid Claims Without Encouraging Private Lawsuits

Pennsylvania state Representative Rob Kauffman (R-Chambersburg) is preparing a bill to strengthen enforcement against Medicaid fraud, suggesting other legislation aimed at the problem would spur unneeded litigation. 

Kauffman’s measure would exact triple damages when a court finds a care provider deliberately and improperly claimed funds from Medicaid, the federal-state healthcare program for low-income Americans. The bill would also empower the commonwealth’s inspector general to impose civil penalties on Medicaid scammers and dedicate new funds to the state attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. 

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Republican State Senator Proposes $15 Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Bill

Pennsylvania’s state Senate Republican Policy chair on Friday said he’s sponsoring legislation gradually raising the commonwealth’s minimum hourly wage to $15 and thence indexing it to inflation.

Senator Dan Laughlin (R-Erie), one of his chamber’s most moderate Republicans representing one of its most electorally competitive districts, said in a statement that he carefully mulled the issue before announcing his measure. The Keystone State’s pay floor rose to $7.25 per hour in 2008, matching the federal minimum wage, and the senator insisted now is the time for an increase, observing that 30 states now set their floors higher. 

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Pennsylvania Committee Passes Amendment Allowing More Time for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Pennsylvania lawmakers on Tuesday took a corrective step in their effort to change state law to give adults who suffered sexual abuse as children more time to sue.

Current state policy gives underage victims of molestation or sexual assault a 12-year period to litigate against their perpetrators or those perpetrators’ institutions. House and Senate versions of a measure to give the would-be plaintiffs a new two-year window to file claims passed the House Judiciary Committee in early March but the panel took them up again this week. Some lawmakers insisted House rules called for a public hearing on the legislation, which the committee conducted two weeks ago, to precede voting.  

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Biden Still Hasn’t Visited Derailment Area; Pennsylvania Legislators Wish He Would

Well over two months have passed since a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, less than a mile from Pennsylvania’s border, and President Joe Biden hasn’t visited affected communities in either state. Pennsylvania lawmakers are urging him to do so. 

Six weeks ago Biden said he would “be out there at some point.” The White House did not respond to a request for comment on whether he has yet scheduled a visit. (Biden’s Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg first went to the site more than two weeks after the derailment.)

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State Agency: Pennsylvania Unemployment Claim Backlog Remains at over 31,000

Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) on Wednesday told state representatives the commonwealth’s unemployment-claim (UC) backlog remains vast at 31,304 cases.

L&I officials testifying at a hearing of the state House Appropriations Committee in preparation for next fiscal year’s budget also said state residents calling the department regarding UC claims face an average wait time of 67 minutes. Acting L&I Secretary Nancy Walker said her agency is making progress in clearing these cases which reportedly numbered more than 35,000 last month. Such cases began to accumulate over the course of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Pennsylvania Cabinet Officer Says New Medicaid Fraud Prevention System Coming in June

Pennsylvania’s acting human services secretary on Tuesday told lawmakers an improved state system to detect Medicaid fraud will be in place this summer. 

The comments from anesthesiologist and former Montgomery County commissioner Val Arkoosh came as policymakers expressed concern about erroneous payments made by the government health-insurance program for the poor. In 2020, Governor Josh Shapiro (D) said in his previous capacity as state attorney general that his investigations indicated improper payments could total as much as $3 billion annually in Pennsylvania. That amounts to about one-tenth of all state Medicaid funds. 

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New Pennsylvania State Senator Wants Accountability for Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone

Pennsylvania state Senator Jarrett Coleman (R-Allentown) last week sent a memo to colleagues asking them to support an upcoming resolution to audit Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ). 

Under the program state lawmakers established in 2009, developers can use state and local tax money to offset the debts they incur on construction and rehabilitation projects in designated parts of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city. Areas within the NIZ include the Lehigh River’s westside waterfront north of Union Street and south of American Parkway as well as the PPL Center hockey arena and many of its surrounding blocks. Allentown is the only city with a neighborhood subject to this program, but the state has created similar zones in Bethlehem and Lancaster.

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Proposal Would Increase Pennsylvania Rail-Safety Inspector Pay

State Representative Jessica Benham (D-PA-Carrick) is asking colleagues to cosponsor her new bill to pay rail-safety inspectors at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) more and hire more of them. 

Benham’s is the latest in a profusion of measures offered by Keystone State lawmakers to address freight-rail concerns in light of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that occurred two months ago. A memorandum she authored describing her bill suggests the commonwealth needs more than its current 10 rail-safety inspectors who oversee more than 5,600 miles of track. 

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Pennsylvania’s Largest Coal Plant Closure Shows Effect of Coming De Facto Carbon-Tax

In July, the Homer City Generation LP Plant, Pennsylvania’s biggest coal-fired energy creator, will be taken offline, meaning 129 well-paying jobs will disappear in Pennsylvania’s fifth-poorest county of Indiana. 

This event, say free-market advocates and fossil-fuel supporters, should admonish Keystone State policymakers not to let the commonwealth let its abeyant membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) become active. The pact involving a dozen northeastern and mid-Atlantic states entails de facto taxation of carbon emissions. Even pre-implementation, industry experts explain, preparation for RGGI is killing otherwise viable power plants. 

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New PAC Encourages Pennsylvania Republicans to Adapt to Mail-In Voting

Two and a half years after Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and a Republican-controlled legislature enacted no-excuse absentee voting, many right-leaning Pennsylvanians still resist adjusting to the new system. 

Arnaud Armstrong can sympathize. The Allentown native and 2018 University of Pittsburgh graduate has worked in various communication and grassroots roles for GOP campaigns and always found in-person voting ideal from a civic standpoint. But the lead organizer of Win Again PAC, a committee that formally launched last weekend at the conservative Pennsylvania Leadership Conference near Harrisburg, says it behooves his party compatriots to mount more spirited efforts to win absentee votes.  

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Pennsylvania Leadership Conference Poll: Election Integrity Conservatives’ Foremost Concern

At the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference this weekend, a straw poll of right-leaning activists from across the Keystone State found election integrity tops their public concerns. 

Cybersecurity Association of Pennsylvania President Scott R. Davis, who administered the survey, told attendees at the Penn Harris Hotel west of Harrisburg that 38 percent of those who voted called election integrity the foremost issue facing the state General Assembly. Trailing that topic were the state budget (28 percent) and gun laws (six percent). Eleven percent chose another issue. 

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Pennsylvania’s Improved Voter Registry ‘Behind Schedule’

Pennsylvania’s top election officials this week informed lawmakers that the process of replacing the state’s voter-records system is “behind schedule” but assured them his agency is prioritizing its completion. 

Responding to questions from members of the state House Appropriations Committee in preparation for drafting the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Al Schmidt said 23 counties are testing the initial version of the new SUREVote system.

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While Pennsylvania Labor Secretary Pushes Minimum Wage Hike, Few Workers Make Only $7.25 an Hour

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) officials testified before state senators Tuesday, requesting an increase in the department’s budget as well as a hike in the commonwealth’s minimum wage. 

Governor Josh Shapiro’s Fiscal Year 2023-24 spending proposal envisions an 11.4-percent rise in L&I’s allocation to $89.8 million. The agency’s acting secretary Nancy Walker also asked lawmakers to consider backing the governor’s goal to raise the Keystone State’s legal wage floor to $15 per hour. 

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Pennsylvania State House Members Support State Police Funding Increase; Off-Budget Account Questioned

Pennsylvania’s House Appropriations Committee members signaled general agreement with  Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro’s budget-increase goals for Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) on Monday, though some related issues remain contentious.

Representatives questioned PSP Commissioner Christopher Paris, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Operations George Bivens and other lead staffers at the agency in preparation for the budget process which lawmakers aim to wrap up by June 30. 

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Pennsylvania GOP State Lawmaker Proposes Freight-Train Length Limit

A Republican Pennsylvania lawmaker is urging colleagues to cosponsor state-level legislation to limit a freight train’s length to no greater than 8,500 feet.

State Representative Louis Schmitt, Jr. (R-Altoona) reasoned in a memorandum describing his proposal that the February 3 derailment in East Palestine, less than half a mile from Pennsylvania’s western border, shows current rail-safety requirements are inadequate. 

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