Pennsylvania House Democrat Sponsors Constitutional Amendment for Abortion and Gay Marriage

Days after several Pennsylvania Senate Democrats proposed legislation to codify the recently overturned Roe v. Wade decision, one senator is spearheading a more expansive measure to enshrine abortion and various sexual rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution.

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Doylestown) issued a memorandum to colleagues on Tuesday asking them to cosponsor his amendment. It would codify not only the 1973 Roe ruling that forbade states from prohibiting abortion but also the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision disallowing bans on gay marriage. Other “privacy”-related rights Santarsiero wishes to write into the state Constitution include those identified in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling, which disallowed contraception bans, and in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which barred sodomy laws. 

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Pennsylvania’s Cities, Big and Small, Have Yet to Recover from the Pandemic’s Downturn

Comparing urban areas across America, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have struggled to recover since the pandemic, showing lackluster economic performance with job levels still below pre-pandemic times.

That performance puts Pennsylvania’s two biggest cities about average in America, according to an analysis from the Brookings Institution on urban economic recovery since COVID-19.

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Pennsylvania Makes It Easier for Foreign Nurses to Get Licensed

A new law in Pennsylvania makes it easier for foreign nurses to get certified in the state, expanding the potential pool of health-care workers as the state confronts a nursing shortage.

Act 22 updates nursing license requirements by allowing the State Board of Nursing to approve graduates of international nursing programs to sit for the registered nursing examination. So long as the education they received outside the United States meets the state board’s standards, graduates can get licensed much quicker than before.

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Pennsylvania Per-Student Spending Hits All-Time High of $19,900

Pennsylvania’s above-estimate tax revenues have been a boon for its public education system – per-pupil spending hit an all-time high, according to an analysis from the Commonwealth Foundation.

In 2020-21, school district spending per student reached $19,900, new data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education noted. 

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Pennsylvania’s Political Leaders Line Up Behind Hydrogen Hub to Grab Federal Dollars

While Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled General Assembly has been at odds with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on spending and budget priorities, both parties have shown bipartisan cooperation for billions in energy-related federal funds.

Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, along with Wolf, issued a letter lending their support for a hydrogen hub in the state that would “modernize our industrial and manufacturing base with less carbon intensive forms of energy,” according to the letter.

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Pennsylvania Tax Breaks for the Rich: 529 Plans Help the Wealthy, not the Poor, Pay for College

College 529 savings plans are a common way to offer families tax breaks for higher education, but their benefits get heavily concentrated among the well-off.

The plans also may not be the best way to save money for the future, due to their high management fees.

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Tens of Millions of Pennsylvania School Dollars ‘Unauditable’

Recent state audits have called attention to some Pennsylvania school districts’ lackadaisical controls that have made auditing how tens of millions of dollars were spent impossible.

The audits do not suggest any illegal activity, but poor compliance measures can hide how taxpayer dollars are being wasted or improperly spent.

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Report: As Overdose Deaths Rise in Pennsylvania, Fentanyl Displaces Heroin

Fentanyl dominates Pennsylvania and has surpassed heroin as the major opioid in the commonwealth, posing greater health risks to those who use it and creating a bigger problem for law enforcement.

That’s according to a new report from the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office warning the public of rising overdose deaths and the threat opioids pose to public health.

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Giffords Endorses Democrat in High-Profile Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Race

A far-left gun control group based in Arizona Thursday endorsed Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Governor, who is also the state’s Democrat nominee for Governor in this year’s election. 

“For years, @JohnFetterman has been a powerful voice for Pennsylvanians who have lost their lives to gun violence, and I have no doubt that he will continue this fight in the Senate. I am proud to back Lt. Gov. Fetterman in his bid for US Senate,” Gabrielle Giffords said in a Thursday tweet.

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Newt Gingrich Commentary: Punishing Pennsylvania, Liberating Virginia

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin are moving their states in opposite directions.

Gov. Youngkin is focused on lowering the cost of living and improving Virginia’s appeal as a place to do business. Boeing’s recent announcement that it is moving from Illinois to Virginia is an example of his efforts. Youngkin’s aggressive pro-jobs push led CNBC to call Virginia the No. 1 state in the country for business.

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Medicaid Fraud: Pennsylvania Treatment Facility Owner Pleads Guilty to $12 Million Kickback Scheme

The owner of a Pennsylvania drug and alcohol treatment facility has pleaded guilty to a Medicaid fraud case that netted his organization $12 million over three years in an illegal kickback scheme.

The attorney general’s office announced the plea of Dr. Lloyd Reid, the owner of Southwest Nu-Stop Philadelphia Inc., which came about from a joint investigation of the office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Section and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Teacher Shortage: Pennsylvania Bill Eases Access for Out-of-State Teachers into Classrooms

Pennsylvania’s teacher shortage is spurring action in the General Assembly to pass reforms and simplify its certification process for educators.

A proposed bill, SB224, would assist out-of-state teachers’ certification to teach in Pennsylvania. So long as a teacher completed a state-approved teaching program elsewhere, they would be eligible for a comparable certification in Pennsylvania. It would provide for reciprocity with other states, making it easier for teachers who move to Pennsylvania to start teaching.

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Pennsylvania Has One of the Lowest Worker Quit Rates in America

Job quit rates have been up since the pandemic, but Pennsylvania lags behind the national average. While that may look like stability and satisfaction with one’s job, it’s a sign of a lack of opportunity for workers in the commonwealth.

An analysis by WalletHub found that Pennsylvania had one of the lowest quit rates in the nation – it ranked 47th. In the last month, Pennsylvania’s resignation rate was 2.1%, with an average rate of 2.24% in the last year.

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Trump-Endorsed Pennsylvania GOP Senate Hopeful Dr. Oz Reveals Family Secret Behind His Dual Citizenship

Neil W. McCabe, the national political editor of The Star News Network, covered a Bristol, Pennsylvania, town hall held by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Senate GOP candidate endorsed by President Donald J. Trump, where the heart surgeon and former TV star addresses questions about his dual citizenship with Turkey.

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Pittsburgh Metro Area Down 54,000 Jobs Since the Pandemic

The Pittsburgh metro area’s economy has yet to recover from the pandemic, its effects still hurting job numbers. 

The Pittsburgh area, which includes Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties, is still missing 53,800 jobs that it had in March 2019, a 5.1% decline, according to an analysis from the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.

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‘Treating Him Very Unfairly:’ Trump Gives Full-Throated Defense of Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania

Speaking at a rally in Greensburg, Pa., former President Donald Trump touted his endorsement of Republican Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

“I just think he’s gonna win. He’s a great gentleman. I’ve known him so long,” Trump said of Oz.

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Pennsylvania Moratorium Loophole Nets $45 Million in Oil and Gas Revenue

Since 2015, when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf issued a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on state forest and state park lands, the administration argued it was “striking the right balance” between economic and environmental concerns.

However, Wolf’s executive order didn’t stop all new leases on publicly owned acreage. 

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Governor Election Will Decide Pennsylvania’s Membership in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Action in the General Assembly was not enough to stop the publication of regulations to enter Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but legal action could stop it in the future. 

If legal action doesn’t halt Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI, the outcome of the gubernatorial election could determine whether the Commonwealth stays in the multi-state compact or leaves it by executive order.

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Talk Radio’s ‘Godzilla of Truth’ John Fredericks on Attack

Neil W. McCabe, the national political editor of The Star News Network, interviewed radio talk show host John Fredericks ‘The Godzilla of Truth’ about how his show is different from other shows just after he hosted an April town meeting with Pennsylvania GOP hopeful, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

‘A lot of my competitors go in a studio, they bring them the paper, somebody brings them a hot chocolate with whipped cream on it. Then they have a coach there, they have a studio, it’s all comfortable, air-conditioned,’ Fredericks said.

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Pennsylvania Still Restricts Nurses’ Scope of Practice, Health Care Options

Though a majority of states allow nurse practitioners full authority to deliver care, Pennsylvania still requires oversight from a physician. A bill in the legislature could change it though, but it’s unclear if it will advance through the General Assembly soon.

The legislation, SB25, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Washington, would update state requirements for nurses and would remove a requirement for nurse practitioners to have a collaborative agreement with a physician for them to practice and write prescriptions.

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Sources: Internal Polling Shows Oz 10 Points Ahead of McCormick in Pennsylvania

Internal polling shows Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz surging past rival David McCormick by 10 points, according to sources close to the candidate’s campaign not authorized to talk to the press.

McCormick, a former hedge-fund executive and former undersecretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush, spent several weeks as the frontrunner in the Republican primary that will be decided on May 17, but recent public polls showed Oz quickly closing that gap.

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Tax Reform May Be Needed to Reverse Pennsylvania Population Decline

Before the pandemic hit, Pennsylvania’s economy had been steadily growing for a decade – but not its population. The population loss has both political and economic consequences.

Federally, Pennsylvania’s influence will lag. The state lost a Congressional district thanks to net emigration from the state. The future of economic growth, too, may fall off as natives and would-be migrants from other states look to growing areas of the South and West.

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Federal Funds to Bolster Acid Mine Drainage Cleanup in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania and other states will split about $11 billion to fund Acid Mine Land reclamation, and a proposed congressional bill would allow that money to fund treatment projects for Acid Mine Drainage, which affects rivers and waterways.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, introduced the STREAM Act which expands how states can use AML funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Job Act. States would be able to approve projects to treat drainage that contaminates waterways and has long-term impacts, in addition to reclaiming formerly mined land.

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The John Fredericks Show: Dr. Oz Versus the Gangster Banksters

Live from Virginia Friday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host Fredericks welcomed US Senate Candidate for Pennsylvania, Dr. Oz to the show to discuss his opposition and natural energy in the state.

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Pennsylvania May Make It Easier to Offer Telehealth for Mental Health Care

Telehealth in Pennsylvania continues to make strides as temporary waivers approved during COVID-19 are made permanent.

A previous bill introduced by Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Lycoming, would align state and federal guidance on home health care. The latest one, HB2419, introduced by Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna, would allow psychiatrists to offer mental health services virtually like they do with in-person services.

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Small Biz Survey: Pennsylvania Government Favors Big Business

Small businesses worry about the power of larger corporations in the marketplace, but they’re also unhappy with the subsidies and tax breaks big businesses get from the government.

A survey of independent small businesses published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance showed that small businesses perceive a business climate that favors bigger companies. A majority of respondents were retailers, and businesses had an average size of 15 employees.

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Commentary: Battle for Hispanic Voters Comes to Key Pennsylvania City

The battle for Hispanic voters in traditional Democratic strongholds is intensifying in Pennsylvania. Last month, the Republican National Committee opened a Hispanic community center in Allentown, the state’s third-largest city. It’s the sixth such center that the RNC has opened nationwide.

Allentown, once associated with steel and Mack trucks, is centered in the Lehigh Valley, now a booming region thanks to the warehousing and logistics sector. The politically competitive Valley is increasingly important to statewide elections, such as the upcoming races to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who lives near Allentown, and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

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Pennsylvania Employers May Be Required to Offer Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

A proposed bill would require Pennsylvania employers to provide all employees with paid sick leave, going beyond current federal requirements.

HB2439, introduced as the Health Family Healthy Workplaces Act, was introduced by Rep. Jennifer O’Mara, D-Delaware.

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Pennsylvania Substitute Teacher Shortage Means Fewer Barriers to Hiring Teachers

While the pandemic has upset the norm in education, a substitute teacher shortage in Pennsylvania has sparked changes to state law and continues to delay the return of a normal school day.

The shortage sometimes means pay spikes for substitutes, cutting into school district budgets. In the long run, shortages may require more tax revenue to cover costs and attract teachers.

Some schools have turned to remote days or shut down when they became shorthanded, like they did during a rise in COVID-19 cases, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted. By February, disruptions in Pennsylvania and nationally leveled off, but the supply of substitute teachers remains small.

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Pennsylvania Has Standardized Testing, Failing Teacher Pipeline Woes

Officials from the Department of Education testified on Thursday about learning loss for students, the barriers to recruiting teachers, and the need for more funding to reach parity among schools across Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget would boost state funding for education by $1.6 billion, a 22% increase from last year’s spending. 

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Pennsylvania Universities Ask for More Funds, Talk Up Keeping Tuition Low

College costs and student debt remain high, and the Senate Appropriations Committee’s hearing with the leaders of Pennsylvania’s state-related universities was about how the General Assembly can help schools, rather than why its leaders aren’t doing more.

While leaders of Penn State, Temple, Pitt, and Lincoln universities noted more funding from the Legislature would cover more costs, they noted an emphasis on graduating students faster to lower student debt. 

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Suspends Primary Election Calendar

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court temporarily has suspended the primary election calendar while it reviews a lawsuit over congressional redistricting.

Candidates for the May 17 primary were to start gathering signatures for petitions on Feb. 15 to get on the primary ballot, but the high court suspended the process “pending further order” as justices prepare for a Feb. 18 hearing on a new congressional district map.

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Trump Blasts Pence’s Claims About January 6: Vice Presidency Not an ‘Automatic Conveyor Belt for Old Crow Mitch McConnell to Get Biden Elected President’

Former President Donald Trump released a blistering attack Friday afternoon on former Vice President Mike Pence’s claims earlier in the day about the January 6, 2021 Joint Session of Congress over which Pence presided at which Electoral College votes submitted by the states were counted.

In a speech before the Florida Chapter of the Federalist Society in Orlando on Friday, Pence asserted, “There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election.” (emphasis added)

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State Lawmaker Seeks to Bolster Pennsylvania Parents’ Rights

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.

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Analysis: Pennsylvania Among the Top Governor’s Races to Watch This Year

Democrats four years ago rode a blue wave to governors’ mansions across the country, flipping Republican-held seats in the Midwest, Northeast and West alike.

Now, however, many of those governors face Republican challengers amid a political environment that looks potentially promising for the GOP, meaning that contentious races may lie ahead in some of the nation’s most pivotal battleground states. Republicans have already had two strong showings in states that lean Democratic, flipping the governor’s seat in Virginia and coming surprisingly close in New Jersey, a state that voted for President Joe Biden by 16 points in 2020.

Governors in less competitive states are also facing primary challengers from the left and right, making for multiple bitter, closely-followed primaries between candidates from different wings of the same party.

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Trump Confidant Kerik Surrenders Memos to January 6 Panel, Vows to ‘Eviscerate’ Democrat Narrative

Then-President Donald Trump’s team assembled a 10-day pressure campaign in December 2020 hoping to shame governors and state legislators into officially investigating allegations of Election 2020 irregularities, according to memos newly turned over to Congress by former New York Police Commissioner and Trump confidant Bernard Kerik.

The strategy called for “protests” at governors’ mansions and the homes of politicians ranging from secretaries of states to “weak” congressional members in key battleground states, the memos show.

The documents, turned over Friday night under subpoena to the House’s Jan. 6 commission, are remarkable in part because they show the primary focus of the Trump team leading up to the Jan. 6 certification of the 2020 vote – an event that turned violent when pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol – was to get “support for hearings” to probe allegations of voting irregularities Trump’s team had received but not vetted.

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Video Captures Delaware County, Pennsylvania Election Workers Discussing Concealing ‘Derogatory’ Information

Video recordings emerged on Friday capturing conversations between Delaware County, Pennsylvania election workers about obscuring “derogatory” information regarding the November 3, 2020 election. 

The footage was secretly recorded by whistleblower Regina Miller and is among numerous recordings serving as evidence in litigation alleging multiple violations of election law as well as Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” statute. Plaintiffs Gregory Stenstrom, Leah Hoopes and Ruth Morin filed the lawsuit in Delaware County Court in November. 

The suit maintains that former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, Delaware County, the county’s Board of Elections, and numerous election officials conspired to dispose of voting records to conceal election-law violations. Four counts made in the litigation assert that public officials destroyed evidence, breaching state civil law regarding fraud and failing to adequately answer a right-to-know request filed by a third-party attorney in May. 

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down State’s School Mask Mandate

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday ruled to strike down Governor Tom Wolf’s statewide mask mandate for schools.

The challengers of the mandate, including Pennsylvania Senate President pro tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) and State Representative Jesse Topper (R-Bedford), argued that the decision of masking should be left to local school boards or parents, not the state government.

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