August is now behind us and we enter the final third of 2023. The real fun still awaits in Harrisburg and Washington so as the unofficial end of summer approaches, we present our Ups and Downs for the week ending September 1.
Jeff Yass. A day after the Pennsylvania billionaire penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal supporting school choice and vouchers, the state Senate passed two code bills that approved one of his pet projects – lifeline scholarships.
Kimberly Barrow. The Harrisburg lawyer won a 47-0 vote in the Senate to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission after earning a favorable recommendation from the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee.
Rob Mercuri. The Allegheny County representative and candidate for the 17th Congressional District seat held by Chris Deluzio traveled to Germany on an all-expenses-paid “trade delegation” to see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra perform, a trip worth more than $11,000. He topped a list compiled by LNP of General Assembly members receiving and reporting gifts in 2022
City of Chester. The Internal Revenue Service submitted proof of claim this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, demanding a whopping $859,975.36 from the financially strapped city. The original unpaid balance was $132,844.55. With interest and fees, it tallies up to nearly $860,000.
Jeffrey Thomas. Suspended Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Thomas’ appeal in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania over his salary has been dismissed. The appeal was meant to decide whether he was due two years’ worth of back pay for his $185,000-per-year job. It appears that Thomas’ failure to submit a valid $90 check for a filing fee is to blame.
Millersville University. The Lancaster County state-related university was the center of the Commonwealth system on Wednesday as Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a partnership between PASSHE and Google. In attendance were the Millersville alums who head up the state’s appropriations committees – Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia).
Mike Regan. In an effort to protect Pennsylvania school students, teachers and staff, the York County Republican introduced legislation to require schools to employ armed security personnel during school hours. Regan’s Senate Bill 907 would require school districts to employ an armed, trained, and vetted school security person at every school during school hours.
Monroe County. Monroe County (4.73%) had the highest property tax burden in the state, according to the Independent Fiscal Office – 0.92 percentage points higher than the second highest, Pike County (3.81%). The much higher property tax burden in Monroe County is likely due to multiple factors including a relatively higher reliance on school district property taxes (as opposed to earned income taxes) and a relatively high proportion of vacation/secondary homes.
Pennsylvania State Police. Gov. Josh Shapiro and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris announced that the PSP will remove the college credit requirement for Pennsylvanians who want to serve as state troopers. Previously, it was required that those seeking a career as a state trooper must have at least 60 college credits. That was then. This is now.
Pittsburgh Steeler Fans. In a study based on a survey of over 1,000 people, The Grueling Truth website found that 35 percent of Black & Gold supporters would not be open-minded to dating a person who is a fan of another team. Twenty-one percent of Eagles’ fans say they would prefer their partner to not support an enemy team. Pennsylvania in general, too, is very sportsman-like, with just 22 percent of people wishing for a partner to cheer for their NFL team statewide.
PA Newspapers. Four northeastern PA newspapers owned by Times Shamrock Communications to Alden Global Capital’s MediaNews Group – The (Scranton) Times-Tribune, The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice, The (Pottsville) Republican Herald, and The (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker. The family that started Times Shamrock issued a statement that read, “We feel it is important to express our personal dissatisfaction with the sale of Times-Shamrock newspapers to MediaNews Group, a subsidiary of Alden Capital. This was a transaction that we do not support or endorse. Alden does not reflect the business principles we feel are consistent with the stewardship of any newspaper.”