A Pennsylvania government watchdog group is highlighting how the incestuous relationship between local government entities and lobbyists is costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The Commonwealth Foundation also is supporting legislation designed to put an end to the practice.
The Commonwealth Foundation issued a report Monday that reveals Pennsylvania taxpayers paid at least $42 million in lobbying expenses between 2007 and 2020 to advocate for more government spending, though the actual cost is likely substantially more.
The foundation sent public information requests to 1,518 government entities to collect data on taxpayer-funded lobbying, which involves boroughs, cities, counties, school districts and state agencies that hire lobbyists or pay dues to associations to lobby other areas of government.
The Ohio General Assembly lit the fuse for legal fireworks for a second time this year after Gov. Mike DeWine extinguished the first attempt with a veto.
The House and Senate passed House Bill 172, allowing for Ohioans to shoot consumer-grade fireworks at certain times of the year. DeWine vetoed a similar bill in July, saying it would make the state one of the least-restrictive fireworks states in the country.
The bill, which passed the Senate, 26-5, and the House, 72-23, on Wednesday, now heads to DeWine, who said in July it was in the public interest to veto legislation that would have legally allowed the discharge of fireworks on 25 holidays during the year.
The Ohio Senate has solidified gun rights, limited government power in an emergency and clarified knives are included in the right to bear arms.
Senate Bill 185, which passed 23-7, stops the state or local governments from confiscating any lawfully owned gun during a declared emergency. Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, said it protects Ohioans’ right to protect themselves and does not add any new gun rights.
“This legislation will protect the rights of Ohioans to their firearms recognizing their natural right to self-defense, as well as to feed their families during times of declared emergencies,” Schaffer said.
Pennsylvania Senate Democrats filed a legal challenge in Commonwealth Court against what they call an “overreaching” subpoena of election records containing personal information for nearly 7 million voters.
The lawsuit filed late Friday alleges Republican members of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee – including Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro and President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte – broke the law when they issued a subpoena against the Department of State seeking the name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number and partial social security number of each and every resident that voted by mail or in person during the last two elections.
In a joint statement, the Democratic members of the committee – including Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Pittsburgh; Minority Chairman Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia; Sen. Vince Hughes, D-Philadelphia; and Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Lower Makefield – said the consequences of the subpoena “are dire” and leave the personal information of residents in the hands of an “undisclosed third party vendor with no prescribed limits or protection.”
The Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and the desperate situation in Kabul has angered U.S. allies, leaving them scrambling to evacuate their citizens and the Afghans who supported them during the 20 year war.
The United Kingdom’s Parliament on Wednesday held Joe Biden in contempt for Afghan debacle, with one veteran MP saying the U.S. abandoned its Afghan allies and disregarded their sacrifices.
Warren climbed the wide steps from Marlborough Street to the door of the Province House, the old mansion with its Tudor-style chimney stacks and ornate gables built a century ago by a wealthy Boston merchant. But for generations now it had been the residence of the royal governors of Massachusetts. For a moment he studied the large royal seal affixed over the door, a reminder of the awesome empire that the governor represented, then looked above it to the eight-sided cupola crowning the mansion, noting the weathervane at the very top shifting in the breeze.
Ohio public schools, colleges and universities cannot require COVID-19 vaccines after Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill that originally was introduced to help military families.
The Ohio Senate amended House Bill 244, which passed in late June along party lines, to prohibit public schools from requiring any vaccine not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and from discriminating against unvaccinated individuals. The FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines on an emergency basis.
The bill also allows military families moving into Ohio to enroll their children in school virtually or through advanced enrollments before they move into the state.
More than 60 House Democrats who fled Austin Monday to prevent a vote on election reforms will be arrested when they return to Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said.
“Once they step back into the state of Texas, they will be arrested and brought to the Texas capital and we will be conducting business,” Abbott said.
The 67 Democratic lawmakers flew on chartered flights to Washington D.C. in protest of proposed legislation seeking to reduce the chances of fraud in future elections. The legislation is one of a number of measures being considered during a July special session called by Abbott.
President Joe Biden has pushed for beefing up IRS audits of corporations to raise revenue for his new spending proposals, but Republicans are raising the alarm about the potential consequences of the plan.
Biden unveiled his “Made in America Tax Plan” earlier this year as a strategy to help fund his trillions of dollars in proposed new federal spending that includes several tax hikes. Despite this, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House and Senate have agreed to a basic framework for Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, but one element has been the theme of the negotiations among Republicans: no new taxes.
The GOP pushback against raising taxes, though, puts more pressure on the Biden administration to find ways to fund his agenda. Aside from Biden’s controversial tax hike proposals, the president also has proposed adding $80 billion in funding to the IRS so it can increase audits of corporations.
A pair of Pennsylvania lawmakers said Friday that state residents themselves should decide the stringency of the state’s voter identification law.
The push comes after Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said he’d never support strengthening existing voter I.D. law – one of the top priorities for Republicans in their election reform proposal unveiled Thursday.
Sen. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, and Rep. Jeff Wheeland, R-Williamsport, both support their party’s proposal to require identification each and every time a resident casts a ballot in-person. Current law stipulates identification only for first time voters in a precinct.
Two members of the Ohio House want the state’s board of education to be more connected to the public by reducing the number of members and eliminating nonelected members.
Eight of the current 19 members receive appointments from the governor, but House Bill 298 eliminates each of those positions when current terms expire, reducing the board to its 1995 level of 11 members.
“The State Board of Education is an important body and the members of its Board should be accountable to the voters,” Rep. Adam Bird, R-New Richmond, said. “Right now, 42% of the members of the State Board of Education are not elected and, therefore, not accountable to anyone. To have almost half the board unelected and unaccountable does not reflect the transparency and responsiveness that Ohioans need and deserve.”
Gas shortages on the East Coast have helped rally Congressional opposition to the portions of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan that would force oil and gas companies to pay more in taxes.
House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., calling on Democrats to oppose Biden’s plan to “eliminate tax preferences for fossil fuels.”
The letter, signed by 55 Republicans, came after a cyber attack of Colonial Pipeline shut down a major pipeline on the East Coast and led to fear-driven gasoline shortages. The attack also raised questions about the nation’s energy infrastructure and vulnerability to attack.
Ohio House Democrats plan to offer their own solutions to potential redistricting issues caused by late census data, and it centers around following the state constitution and providing more public access to the process.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced last month redistricting data will not be available until September, creating a constitutional issue for Ohio. The state must meet certain requirements by the end of September.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has sued the U.S. Census Bureau to release information sooner, and Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, floated a constitutional amendment change last month.
The U.S. Census Bureau and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a constitutional issue for Ohio, and a possible change has members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus concerned the public will be excluded.
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, proposed asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that gives the state options with critical Census Bureau information not expected until September and Ohio facing a constitutional deadline of Sept. 30 to redraw state House, state Senate and congressional district maps.
That has Black Caucus leaders worried public input could be reduced or eliminated.
Rising Republican star U.S. Rep. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is sponsoring a new measure that would give unprecedented tax cuts to parents with children, and now he is saying his bill is on the front line of the nation’s “culture war.”
The plan in question would give a fully refundable tax credit of $12,000 for married parents and $6,000 for single parents who have children under the age of 13.
“Starting a family and raising children should not be a privilege only reserved for the wealthy,” Hawley said. “Millions of working people want to start a family and would like to care for their children at home, but current policies do not respect these preferences. American families should be supported, no matter how they choose to care for their kids.”
The California Secretary of State’s Office confirmed Monday that it has received and verified enough signatures to trigger an election for the removal of Gov. Gavin Newsom from office.
Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber said Monday the threshold of verified signatures reported by counties had been met and exceeds the required amount of 1,495,709.
“A recall election will be held unless a sufficient number of signatures are withdrawn,” Weber said.
Ohio Democrats continue to criticize the state’s new stand your ground law and unveiled a package of gun control legislation Monday that goes further than a proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine that has seen no movement in nearly two years.
Monday’s call comes 20 months since a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, and less than a week after another one in Indianapolis. It also comes nearly two weeks after a law that removes the duty to retreat from Ohioans to defend themselves with deadly force went into effect.
“Ohioans have spoken loudly and clearly that we need to do something to end gun violence. Democrats are listening to you, the people of Ohio who overwhelmingly support commonsense solutions to keep our kids and communities safe,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said Monday at a news conference. “In the 20 months since Dayton, shootings have gone up, not down. We need reform now to ensure the promise of safety and security for all Ohioans.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent an unsigned letter to the European Union on Saturday requesting a Brexit delay and a separate note saying that he did not want an extension, a British government source said.
Britain’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament for five weeks was unlawful and is “void and of no effect.”
Prime Minister Theresa May was set to unveil her new plan to break Britain’s Brexit deadlock on Monday — one expected to look a lot like the old plan that was decisively rejected by Parliament last week. May was scheduled to brief the House of Commons on how she intends…