December 20th Ups & Downs
Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation fell along party lines in the impeachment vote, criminal justice reform bills were signed into law in Harrisburg, and a GOP Congressional hopeful received President Trump’s endorsement. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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PA’s Impeachment Views. The vote didn’t come as a surprise to any political observer, but mostly mirroring the overall vote in the House, Pennsylvania’s 18 member Congressional delegation fell entirely along party lines for the two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Eight of the nine member GOP delegation elected to speak on the House floor prior to the vote to voice their opposition to impeachment, while only three Democrats in the state chose to deliver a brief speech about their support for impeachment. Since Pennsylvania is viewed as one of the key swing states leading up to the 2020 presidential election, it should come as no surprise that the Congressional delegation in the state was divided 9-9 on the issue.
Criminal Justice Reform. It was a big week for criminal justice reform advocates and bipartisanship in Harrisburg. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that Gov. Tom Wolf signed a pair of bills, known as Justice Reinvestment Initiative 2, into law that aims to cut incarceration costs and reinvest savings in county probation offices. The legislation expects to reduce the state’s prison population and save taxpayers money in the process. Two of the bills signed into law were sponsored by two Republicans, state Sens. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Tom Killion (R-Delaware).
Corey O’Connor. It was a couple of years in the making, but it was announced this week that Pittsburgh’s paid sick day law will go into effect on March 15, 2020. The ordinance sponsored by Pittsburgh City Councilor Corey O’Connor (D), originally passed in 2015, received the nod from the state’s Supreme Court earlier this year. O’Connor’s bill will require that private employers provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 35 hours an employee works, then those paid sick hours per employee are then capped at 24 or 40 hours per year, depending on the size of the employer, City Paper reports. “All employers with 15 or more employees are required to offer up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year, and those employing less than 15 employees 24 hours of paid sick time” per year.
Philly Election Officials Wishes. They pleaded with Speaker Mike Turzai to choose the upcoming special election for the state House’s 190th District as the same day as the Pennsylvania primary, but were turned down. The election to fill the seat vacated by state Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell (D-Philadelphia) will take place on Feb 25, 2020, despite Philadelphia City Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Deeley sending a letter urging him to pick the same day as the Pennsylvania primary, citing a few reasons that included taxpayers money.
Lt. Governor’s Office Reform. As the Pennsylvania Capital-Star notes, Pennsylvania’s office of Lieutenant Governor will be changed “literally and figuratively” after a pair of bills were approved by the state House. One bill would order the state to sell the lieutenant governor’s official residence in Lebanon County, while the other would let each party’s candidate for governor select their own lieutenant governor running mate, as opposed to the state’s current law where there is a different election on the primary day. Both bills were overwhelmingly approved in the state House.
Sean Parnell. The GOP hopeful for the 17th Congressional District was praised by President Donald Trump at the annual Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh, before he even declared his candidacy, but the endorsement was made official this week. Trump shot out a tweet on Wednesday morning that Parnell “is a great patriot and will do a fantastic job. He has my total and complete endorsement!.” Although Parnell enters the current three GOP candidate race as the favorite, an endorsement from Trump certainly boosts his chances even more to secure their party’s nomination in a district that narrowly supported Trump in 2016 over Sec. Hillary Clinton.
Jim Christiana. The former GOP state representative, who is now at the helm of the Beaver County Republican Party, received some positive press this week when the Beaver County Times highlighted his tenure leading the local party. The Beaver County GOP was at the center of a national controversy prior to his tenure when the former chairman Chip Kohser came under fire for how the organization handled racist comments from the county party’s secretary Carla Maloney calling black NFL players “baboons” in 2017. After Kosher resigned as a result of the controversy, Christiana was elected and the local GOP has won a number of offices since his tenure officially began. The Beaver County Times writes that Christiana has “steered the Republican Committee of Beaver County away from a national controversy and helped the GOP strengthen its hold on county row offices.” Since he took over, Beaver County Republican Party membership has tripled and last month Republicans maintained their majority on the board of commissioners, but also gained treasurer, controller, and recorder of deeds, to now have 7 of 10 row offices.
PA’s Economic Development Transparency. According to a recent report from U.S. PIRG and the Frontier Group, a consumer watchdog group, Pennsylvania received a “D-” for online economic development transparency, City Paper reports. Most states surrounding Pennsylvania received similar marks, except Ohio being #1 on the list earning an “A-”.
Rob Colville. The Senate voted to confirm Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Robert J. Colville by a 66-27 vote, including support from both Sens. Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) , to serve for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Casey and Toomey lauded Colville’s two decade experience saying that he will serve with “fairness and integrity.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK
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— Dave Davies (@DaveDaviesWHYY) December 19, 2019