Goodbye to July. As we get ready to enter the eighth month of 2023 next week, let’s take a look back at last week’s Ups and Downs around the Commonwealth.
Al Schmidt. The Secretary of the Commonwealth laid it on the line in a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, stating his concern if legislation is not passed soon, that “we will not give county election officials the time they need to adjust thousands of polling locations to accommodate a new, earlier Primary date.” Pennsylvania is considering moving the date of its presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third Tuesday in March.
Kim Ward. The leader of the state Senate said in a TV interview that the chamber could return in August to resolve the budget impasse. “I’m sure at some point in August, we will be able to get the general appropriation signed,” she said. Ward also stated that time may restore trust between Senate Republicans and Gov. Josh Shapiro and she “learned that maybe a handshake deal doesn’t mean what it used to me.” Ward also was the recipient of a letter from Al Schmidt (see above) encouraging the Westmoreland County lawmaker to reconvene to solve the presidential primary debate.
Karoline Mehalchick. The Clarks Summit resident and chief magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania since January 2021 was grilled by U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans during her confirmation hearing Wednesday. They tried to raise doubts about Mehalchick’s worthiness to serve as a U.S. district judge by pointing to higher courts overturning at least partly more than 30 of her rulings as a federal magistrate judge.
Ryan Mackenzie. The ninth generation resident of the Lehigh Valley tossed his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination for the 7th Congressional District. Mackenzie will face at least two other challengers for the right to face off against incumbent Susan Wild.
Larry Krasner. It’s been a while since we’ve included the Philadelphia DA in our little feature. But he’s back in the news as the House managers in his impeachment trial have filed their 100-page appeal in the state Supreme Court. “We have appealed the Commonwealth Court ruling concluding there was no misbehavior in office by DA Krasner as alleged in the Articles of Impeachment,” said chair of the impeachment managers Craig Williams.
Jill Cooper. The first-term Westmoreland County Republican wants to put Pennsylvania “on a similar footing with some others who depend upon the annual appropriation process, i.e., we do not receive our pay until the budget is enacted.” Cooper wants to include the compensation of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Members of the General Assembly among those payments delayed during a budget impasse.
Paul Friel. The House Democrat from the 26th District says his state House Bill 1506 could go a long way in meeting the concerns of parents rights groups while also preserving the First Amendment rights of students. The bill would set a standard review process for book challenges, set boundaries on reasons why a book can’t be removed and codifies a process for parents to opt their children out of lessons or library materials “that conflicts with their beliefs.”
Joe Rockey. The Republican nominee for Allegheny County Executive received the endorsement of three unions representing 3,500 members of law enforcement in Allegheny County and highlighted his commitment to public safety by unveiling a five-point plan to bolster law enforcement and reduce crime.
Pennsylvania Voters. If you want another reason why the Keystone State is one of the biggest “swing states” in the country, look no further than this – from 2008 until the 2020 election, only 10 states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (plus two swing single-vote districts NE-02 and ME-02) — have voted for both Democratic and Republican nominees for president.
Joe Schember. The mayor of Erie is seeking reimbursement from former President Donald Trump’s campaign for an upcoming Saturday rally after it stiffed the city five years earlier. The Trump campaign did not repay more than $35,000 to the city for a rally at Erie Insurance Arena in 2018. Nearly all of the costs were related to overtime pay for city workers assigned to cover the event, including police officers. “Trump has been able to bring in millions of dollars for his campaign,” Schember said. “He should be able to easily pay these costs to cities.”