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June 14th Ups & Downs

The Governor vows to veto a bill that expands taxpayer support to private and religious schools, a bill dealing with nurse practitioners overwhelmingly passes the Senate, while super PACs are making an entrance in the state prior to the 2020 election. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.

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EITC Program Advocates. The state House and Senate passed legislation to expand taxpayer support by $100 million for private and religious schools, but the Governor has vowed to veto the bill. The GOP overwhelmingly supported the proposed increase in Education Improvement Tax Credit, while most Democrats opposed it citing their position that public school funding should be taking center stage.

Nurse Practitioner Bill Supporters. Supporters of SB25 have a reason to celebrate this week. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), passed the Senate by a 44-6 vote that allows certified nurse practitioners to practice independently of physicians. Supporters of the bill say it will make healthcare more available through nurses and less expensive, citing 22 other states that have similar laws. Opponents of the bill believe there are other more effective ways to get healthcare to “underserved areas” and believe it may increase healthcare costs.

Super PACs in PA. If you aren’t a fan of super PACs, I have some bad news for you. Various super PACs have already committed to significant investments into the keystone state leading into the 2020 election. The progressive super PAC For Our Future has a Pennsylvania operation that is attempting to make the Democratic candidate victorious over President Donald Trump in 2020, while hoping to flip seats in down ballot races as well. For the GOP effort, two pro Trump super PACs have teamed up for a voter registration push in PA hoping to register voters by preaching Trump’s agenda.

Philly Budget Spending. It keeps getting higher in the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia’s City Council approved a $5 billion spending plan for the 2020 fiscal year, which is an increase of $300 million from this current year’s budget. The city’s budget has grown by $1 billion since Kenney took office in 2016. Under the previous Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, the highest budget was $4.02 billion in 2015, while the lowest was $3.48 in 2012.

Wolf’s Voting Machine Upgrade Plans. After Pennsylvania settled a lawsuit that dealt with the voting machines being “susceptible to election tampering,” Gov. Tom Wolf committed to updating all voting machines in the state by 2020. WITF reports that he wants the legislature to give counties $75 million over five years to help pay for it, but a spokeswoman for the state Senate GOP said it doesn’t make sense to replace them all and that Wolf needs to “figure out where the money comes from it.” A spokesperson for Wolf responded by saying if an agreement isn’t made by the Senate, his administration will “assess the best path forward for the commonwealth.”

Philly Climate Activists. A $60 million liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant was approved in Philadelphia this week by a 13-4 vote. The Inquirer reports that advocates for the plant say it’ll generate at least $1.35 million in profits to help reduce residential heating bills, while opponents believe there are unanswered questions about the plant’s impact on the environment and believe the nation should be investing in renewable energy.

Tony George Appointments. Appointments were made by the outgoing Mayor, but some in Council plus the city’s likely incoming Mayor George Brown who handily defeated the incumbent in the primary, think the appointments shouldn’t have been made. Three mayoral appointments were approved in Wilkes-Barre City Council by a 3-2 vote. Those supporting the appointments believe George has the final say for who gets appointed to certain positions in the now considering he still holds his position, while those who oppose the outgoing Mayor’s appointment believe it’s his “last grasp at power.”  

John I. Waltman. The former district judge in Bucks County and onetime chair of Lower Southampton’s Republican committee was sentenced to 6 ½ years in federal prison for participating in money laundering, extortion and bribery while serving as a judge. The Philadelphia Inquirer describes Waltman as someone who “lorded over his working-class Bucks County township like an old-school political boss”.


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