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January 26: Listening In Pittsburgh

Good Morning. Congrats to the Susquehanna River North Branch – the PA River of the Year.

PA Weather
Meyersdale | Snow showers, windy, 33
Halifax | Mostly cloudy, 42
Willow Grove | Partly sunny, 43

PA Sports
Penguins (24-15-8) | THU vs. Washington
Flyers (20-21-8) | THU vs. Minnesota
76ers (31-16) | Brooklyn, W 137-133 | SAT vs. Denver

What We’re Hearing
“Each of the 12 districts had sufficient unused funds that made some of the 37 tax increases unnecessary.”

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Top Story

1. Turning to Pittsburgh To Solve A Harrisburg Problem

The gridlock in Harrisburg came to Pittsburgh for a night | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“State House Speaker Mark Rozzi kicked off a statewide listening tour in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, with his Workgroup to Move Pennsylvania Forward, which he called an attempt to break a partisan logjam in the House over operating rules.

Rozzi and the panel heard from sexual abuse survivors, gun violence reduction advocates, and residents who said they were tired of the gridlock in Harrisburg.” (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Related

Hopes Of Bipartisan Cooperation Give Way To Complete Deadlock In PA House. “The Pennsylvania House officially adjourned Tuesday until late February, almost certainly ending any chance of voters seeing constitutional amendments on their May ballot.” (Spotlight PA)

The Gridlock In Harrisburg Came To Pittsburgh For A Night. “With the state Capitol at a total standstill, Pennsylvania House Speaker Mark Rozzi traded Harrisburg for Pittsburgh on Wednesday.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Ballot Deadline For Proposed Constitutional Amendments About To Expire. “Lawmakers warned of a tight turnaround ahead of the upcoming spring primary election to adopt proposed ballot questions to amend Pennsylvania’s constitution. That deadline is about to be blown.” (Daily Item)

New PA Reps Waiting, And Waiting, To Work On House Floor. “Nearly one-quarter of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives turned over in last fall’s midterm elections, with new members eager to make their respective marks in the state legislature. Instead, they’re frozen out by partisan politics.” (New Castle News)

House GOP Holdout Blocks Session Recall As Clock Ticks On Temporary Majority. “All but one Republican in the state House signed a letter this week recalling the chamber to session. But that single holdout — Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Hershey — leaves his party just one signature shy of the majority mandate for the parliamentary maneuver, meant to circumvent the Democrats’ three-week blockade, to actually succeed.” (Broad + Liberty)

 

Harrisburg

2. School Districts Tuck Money In Reserve Accounts To Justify Need For Tax Increases, Audit Finds

DeFoor 4 PA

“Audits of 12 school districts have state Auditor General Timothy DeFoor believing school boards are playing a “shell game” with taxpayer funds by moving money into reserve accounts to allow them to make a case for raising property tax rates.

State laws limit how much school districts can raise property taxes and sets limits on those increases but allows for exceptions to be granted in one of two ways: ask voters’ permission through a referendum or ask the state Department of Education for a referendum exception.” (PennLive)

Related

3 Lancaster County School Districts Among 12 In PA To Catch Heat For Tax Hikes; Cutler Seeks Change. “Republican state House Speaker Bryan Cutler wants to change laws governing public school property tax increases after an audit showed 12 districts – including three in Lancaster County – received state approval to vote on hikes higher than the wage inflation rate even while holding significant funding reserves.” (LNP)

 

‘There’s No Blueprint’: PA State Senator Prepares To Give Birth Amid Legislative Turmoil. “Amanda Cappelletti is set to make history as the first state senator to give birth in office, joining just 5 percent of state lawmakers nationwide who are mothers of kids under 18.” (The 19th)

PA Advisory Board Offers Mail-In Voting Recommendations. “A new report makes five recommendations for legally changing Pennsylvania’s vote by mail system, including having an earlier deadline for mail-in and absentee ballot applications and making use of secrecy envelopes optional for mail-in and absentee voters.” (Capitolwire.com)

  • Bipartisan State Panel Issues New Report Claiming To Clarify Mail-In Ballot Rules. (City & State)

 

Around The Commonwealth

3. Republicans Tap McCormick To Oust Sen. Casey In 2024 PA Race

Dave McCormick

“Republicans across the party’s spectrum are pushing for former GOP Senate candidate Dave McCormick to challenge incumbent Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey (D) in 2024 after the party suffered a devastating blow last year when now-Sen. John Fetterman became the Keystone State’s second Democratic senator.” (The Hill)

Related

No Democratic Bench? Josh Shapiro And Wes Moore Are Ready To Step Up. “The inaugurations in Pennsylvania and Maryland this month introduced Democrats to their future.” (POLITICO)

Biden, Harris To Visit Philadelphia Next Week. “President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are planning to visit Philadelphia on Feb. 3, according to the White House.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Centrists Democratic PAC’s Sole Funder Is A Republican Megadonor. “The Moderate PAC, created to go after progressive primary challengers, received all its money from one source: Republican megadonor Jeffrey Yass.” (The Intercept)

John Weinstein Touts Experience, Relationships In Allegheny County Executive Run. “In a season of sweeping political change, with long-established figures like Congressman Mike Doyle and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald departing from public life, John Weinstein says he offers something the county will need: experience.” (WESA)

Philly Mayoral Candidate Amen Brown Business Dealings Left A Trail Of Debt, Lawsuits And Jilted Partners. “An Inquirer review found that Brown’s business and real estate dealings over the last decade have been mired in repeated accusations of legal and financial impropriety.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 

PA Counties Highlight 911 Services, Election Reform On 2023 Legislative Shopping List. “Increased funding for 911 and mental health services, and efforts to ensure election “integrity,” top the list of priorities for Pennsylvania’s county commissioners as a new legislative session begins — and as a new gubernatorial administration takes office.” (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Tax Caps Leave Many Municipalities With Few Ways To Raise Revenue. “Municipalities across Pennsylvania that lack home rule charters are unable to increase a variety of taxes beyond limits set by a state law from the 1960s, according to a recent report from the Pennsylvania Economy League, a good-government group. Those include the earned income tax and a per capita tax on residents.” (Spotlight PA)

 

Editorial

4. What They’re Saying

A glance around the Keystone State at editorials and opinions.

 

1 Thing

5. A Near Miss

5846680_web1_5846680-b354561602f243d9a5d4f73126414e8e

An asteroid the size of a delivery truck will whip past Earth on Thursday night, one of the closest such encounters ever recorded.

NASA insists it will be a near miss with no chance of the asteroid hitting Earth.

NASA said Wednesday that this newly discovered asteroid will zoom 2,200 miles above the southern tip of South America. That’s 10 times closer than the bevy of communication satellites circling overhead.

“In fact, this is one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.” (Tribune-Review)

 

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