Pennsylvania State Senators Legislating to Prevent Privatizing Election Administration

Kristin Phillips-Hill

Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a measure banning private organizations from funding election administration in the Keystone State.

The bill’s sponsors, state Sens. Lisa Baker (R-Dallas) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-Jacobus) have cited the role that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) played in election operations in Philadelphia and other Democratic-leaning counties in 2020. CTCL has been funded significantly by Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

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Mike Doyle the Latest Democratic Congressman to Retire Ahead of Midterms

Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania announced his retirement Monday after 14 terms in the House, becoming the latest Democrat to retire just over a year from the midterms.

Doyle represents Pittsburgh and is the dean of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation. His decision comes as Democrats seek to defend their 220-212 House majority and they struggle to pass President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda despite their control of both chambers.

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Pennsylvania Schools Would Be Required to Post Curriculum Online Under Proposed Bill

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a measure this week that would require schools to post curriculum online.

Prime sponsor Rep. Andrew Lewis, R-Harrisburg, said it’s only an extension of what some districts already do – and gives parents access to what their kids are learning without having to visit a school building in person.

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Point Park University Students Petition to Remove Classmate from Pennsylvania Campus After Fox News Interview

Students at Point Park University are petitioning administrators to remove Logan Dubil, their conservative classmate from the school, after the undergraduate student appeared in media criticizing the university’s “Misgendering, Pronoun Misuse, and Deadnaming Policy.”

The Change.org petition, created by “Max,” currently has 396 signatures.

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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Arrested, Accused of Harassment, Violating Protection Order

Kevin Boyle

State Rep. Kevin Boyle, D-Philadelphia, was arrested late Friday by city law enforcement on charges accusing him of harassment and violating a protection from abuse order.

Court documents show the 41-year-old lawmaker was arraigned in the early hours of Saturday morning. A trial date is set for Tuesday.

The news comes just days after Spotlight PA reported that House Democratic leadership stripped Boyle of his committee chairmanship and limited his access to the state capitol building.

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Pennsylvania Leaves Schools in the Lurch on Enforcement of Masking, Quarantine Policies, Educators Say

Teacher up front, giving lecture to students in a school classroom

A number of Pennsylvania educators said Thursday the Department of Health hands down COVID-19 mitigation orders and doesn’t back them up when it comes to enforcement, leaving schools in a difficult spot.

Michael Bromirski, superintendent of Hempfield School District in Lancaster County, told the Senate Education Committee that since pandemic mitigation rules lifted earlier this summer, school districts no longer handle quarantine orders for students exposed to the virus after the department told them it’s the state’s responsibility – and authority – to do so.

Except, parents rarely receive such instructions, generating confusion and frustration.

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University of Pennsylvania Removes Suffragette’s Name from ‘Feminist’ Research Center to Prioritize ‘Inclusiveness’

The University of Pennsylvania named its women’s studies center the “Center for Research in Feminist, Queer, and Transgender Studies” — removing a tribute to a prominent suffragette in the process.

According to Melissa Sanchez, an English and comparative literature professor who will lead the center, Penn decided to rename the Alice Paul Center — home to the Ivy League university’s gender studies department — in order to signal “commitment” to LGBTQ “intellectual and political movements.”

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Challenges Election Subpoena

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro challenged a Republican-led election subpoena on Thursday, saying that it “goes too far” and violates the constitutionally protected privacy of up to 9 million residents.

“By trying to pry into everyone’s drivers license numbers and social security numbers they have gone too far,” he said. “Today we say enough is enough. What they are doing is against the law and we intend to win.”

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Pennsylvania Senate Democrats File Suit, Allege GOP ‘Overreaching’ in Election Subpoena

Anthony Williams and Jay Costa

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.”

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Voting Reform Bill Reintroduced after Pennsylvania Governor’s Veto

Seth Grove and Tom Wolf

The prime sponsor of a vetoed voting reform bill said Friday he reintroduced the measure after Gov. Tom Wolf shifted his public opinion on some components of the legislation over the summer.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, said House Bill 1800 would bolster voting rights “through three broad concepts of increased access, increased security and modernization.” 

“We know access and security are not mutually exclusive,” he said.

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Pennsylvania Governor Recalls Secretary Nomination Amid Legislative Election Probe

Gov. Tom Wolf recalled his nomination for acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid on Monday after alleging that Senate Republicans would not vet her fairly amid the chamber’s controversial election investigation.

“It is clear that instead of providing advice and consent on my nominee for Secretary of the Commonwealth, they instead plan on using her confirmation as an opportunity to descend further into conspiracy theories and work to please the former president [Donald Trump] by spreading lies about last year’s election, instead of working together to address real issues facing Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in an emailed statement to reporters on Monday.

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Lawmaker Gears Up to Grill Pennsylvania Department of State on Voter-Registry Errors Uncovered by Democrat Auditor General

As Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Majority Chair Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro) investigates recent elections, Democratic lawmakers against tightening election security must contend with a withering 2019 audit of Pennsylvania’s voter registry.

At his investigation’s initial hearing last Thursday, Dush announced his intention to hold the Department of State (DOS) accountable for the mismanagement identified in the audit by calling the department to testify at the committee’s next hearing to be scheduled soon. 

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Bush’s 9/11 Remarks on Domestic Extremism ‘Not Exclusive to January 6’ Riot, Spokesperson Says

George W. Bush giving speech on Sept. 11; 20 years after the attacks

Former President George W. Bush’s remarks about domestic extremism during his speech in Shanksville for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 were “definitely not exclusive to” the January 6th Capitol riot.

Speaking at the Flight 93 memorial, Bush compared violent extremists in the U.S. and foreign extremists.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and those at home,” Bush said on Saturday at the memorial in Pennsylvania. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit and it is our duty to confront them.”

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Pennsylvania Congressman Lamb Silent on National Archives Labeling Constitution for ‘Harmful Language’

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has slapped “Harmful Language” warnings on online displays of American founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA-17) is keeping quiet about it.

The Star News Network emailed Lamb’s press office Friday to ascertain his view of the matter. Neither the congressman—who recently announced a bid for U.S. Senate—nor his staff have replied.

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Pennsylvania Senate Panel Wants Citizens to Testify If They Witnessed Election Malfeasance

The Pennsylvania Senate committee tasked with investigating instances of election malfeasance asked residents this week to submit their testimony for its review.

Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, said residents should only submit their stories if they are willing to sign an affidavit and potentially testify under oath, under penalty of perjury, before the panel during forthcoming hearings.

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Amistad Project Files Lawsuit to Stop Pennsylvania School Mask Mandate

Alison Beam

The Amistad Project, in conjunction with Pennsylvania Senate President pro tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre) and State Representative Jesse Topper (R-Bedford), filed a lawsuit against actions by Pennsylvania acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam.

In the lawsuit, the organization is challenging a new statewide school mask mandate, arguing the new restriction violates state law and is a broad overreach of governmental power.

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Pennsylvania Vote Count Contains 40K-Plus Discrepancies; ‘We Need to Get to the Bottom of Why That Is the Case’

As part of a state-by-state review of the 2020 General Election results, the non-profit Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) has discovered 41,503 discrepancies between the Pennsylvania voters officially recorded as having cast ballots and the total ballots certified per the state’s official canvass.

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While Pennsylvania Democrats Want to Increase Welfare Payments, Some Experts Urge Focus on Bigger Picture

Democrats in the Pennsylvania General Assembly hope to increase monthly welfare benefits in Pennsylvania, reasoning that payments under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program have stayed flat since the 1990s, falling well behind inflation. 

Legislation being drafted by state Sen. Katie Muth (D-PA-Royersford) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-PA-Philadelphia) would increase Pennsylvania’s TANF benefits, which average $403 per month for a family of three in most counties.

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Pennsylvania GOP Senators’ Internal Battle Over Imperiled Forensic Election Audit Goes Public

An internal fight among legislators over a forensic election audit is spilling into public after Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg, accused leaders in his own party of stonewalling his investigation.

The senator made the comments during a Thursday interview with One America News Network that he later doubled down on in a lengthy statement posted to his social media pages the following day.

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Fulton County, Pennsylvania Defends Post-2020 Election Audit and Right to Keep Voting Machines

Fulton County, Pennsylvania election officials are defending their decision to conduct an audit of the 2020 election in their jurisdiction and their right to continue use of their voting machines.

Attorneys from Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter & Graham LLP who are affiliated with an election-integrity nonprofit known as the Amistad Project, will be handling the case for the small county of about 14,500 residents, situated about 90 miles southwest of Harrisburg.

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State Lawmakers Strip Four Democrat and Two Republican Governors’ Power After Overreach During COVID-19 Pandemic

State legislatures in six states limited their governors’ emergency powers wielded during the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing executives have overextended their authority.

As of June 2021, lawmakers in 46 states have introduced legislation stripping governors of certain emergency powers, according to USA Today. Legislatures justified their actions as necessary to restore a balance between the branches of state government, pointing to examples of executive overreach and the centralization of power in the hands of governors.

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Conor Lamb the Latest to Jump into Critical Pennsylvania Senate Race

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb launched a long-expected Senate bid in his state Friday morning, becoming the latest to join a crowded primary field in one of the country’s most competitive races.

Lamb, a 37-year-old Marine, first won a special election in a Pittsburgh-area swing district in 2018, months before Democrats took control of the House. He is vying to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in a state that President Joe Biden narrowly won, as Democrats look to expand their slim 50-50 majority.

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Commentary: Pennsylvania Is a Microcosm of America’s Housing Crisis

A modern home with a light blue roof and matching siding

In recent years, an acute housing crisis has engulfed both America’s coastal metros and Rust Belt regions. California’s Bay Area, for example, confronts a crisis of affordability and limited supply that hastens a population exodus. Midwest cities like Detroit face low real-estate prices and low demand, intensifying urban decline.

Pennsylvania is a microcosm of such alarming housing trends, especially east of the Susquehanna River, which is seeing an influx of metro New Yorkers relocating to the area.

From the Keystone State’s middle-class suburbs to its post-industrial locales, the housing crisis is a major challenge. In the midstate, most notably in Harrisburg and Lancaster, housing has become significantly more expensive. In the northeast’s anthracite coal region, anchored by Scranton, rents are spiking. And in suburban Philadelphia’s Lansdale, a townhouse went for nearly $500,000.

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Opponents of Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf’s COVID Orders Present Case to Third Circuit Court

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on Thursday, legal counsel for several Pennsylvania counties as well as numerous public officials and private companies, argued Governor Tom Wolf (D) abused his police powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the private-sector compainaints charge that the governor’s shutdown of and other demands on businesses during parts of 2020 and 2021 violate the takings clause and the due-process clause of the U.S. Constitution. All plaintiffs, governmental and private, further insist that the governor’s restrictions on public gatherings over the past year violated the rights of assembly, association and religion secured by the First Amendment. 

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Pennsylvania Punishes County That Allowed Audit of Vote Counting Machines

The Pennsylvania Department of State decertified Fulton County’s voting machines on Wednesday after officials there participated in a third-party audit.

The voluntary probe came at the request of Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) who’s currently spearheading a larger effort to audit machines in Tioga, York and Philadelphia counties amid his ongoing campaign to ferret out fraudulent activity during the past two elections.

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Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano Initiates Forensic Investigation of 2020 Election

Doug Mastriano

The Pennsylvania state senator who led a hearing on election fraud in Gettysburg, PA, last November, has initiated a “full forensic investigation” into 2020 election results in several counties.

Republican State Sen. Doug Mastriano said in a statement that as chair of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee, that he has issued letters to several counties representing “different geographical regions of Pennsylvania and differing political makeups,” requesting “information and materials needed to conduct a forensic investigation of the 2020 General Election and the 2021 Primary.”

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Data Shows Increased Homicides in Six Major Cities Across the Country

Police line do not cross tape

The number of homicides in six major cities across the country has increased compared to last year, disproportionately affecting black people, according to crime data.

Black people have represented a massive share of murder victims in six major cities through the first six months of 2021 compared to last year, which itself saw a large crime surge, according to data analyzed by the Daily Caller News Foundation. The DCNF analyzed both police department data and homicide reports compiled by local news outlets to determine how black people have been victimized in the wake of the 2020 crime spike.

“We are seeing an uptick in violent crime across the country, specifically gun violence,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told The New York Times earlier this month.

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Census Bureau Announces Florida Will Gain a Congressional Seat as Michigan and Ohio Each Lose One

Texas and Florida are slated to gain congressional seats during the decennial redistricting process, while California and New York are set to each lose one, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the decennial state population and congressional apportionment totals Monday, outlining how many districts each state will have for the next decade. The data also determines how many Electoral College votes each state will have through 2032, and allocates how federal money is distributed to each state for schools, roads and other public projects.

The release was originally scheduled for December, but faced delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to exclude non-citizens from the count.

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