Capitol Quick Hits for 6.29.15

Here are the highlights from news conferences, rallies, and advocacy days held in the Capitol today: 

  • The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) held a rally this morning in the Main Rotunda to urge legislators to provide more funds to public education. Jerry Jordan, President of PFT, argued that Gov. Tom Wolf was elected because of his commitment to increasing education funding.
  • The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) hosted a rally in the Main Rotunda this afternoon to call on lawmakers to increase spending on public education. Erin Kramer, AROS member and speaking on behalf of One Pittsburgh, explained that the rally is the culmination of a two week bus tour that traveled to 13 cities in Pennsylvania. “This is a moment of choice, Gov. Wolf has proposed a budget to restore funding for public school after devastating cuts over the last four years.” 

Monday, June 29, 2015/Author: Alanna Koll
Categories: Event Central
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Liquor privatization bill forges ahead amid concerns over job losses

Liquor privatization bill forges ahead amid concerns over job losses

A compromise plan to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor stores forged ahead Sunday evening as House Bill 466 was amended and later passed by the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

The measure now moves to the Senate Floor where it is anticipated to be passed, along with pension reform and the budget and other related bills, by the conclusion of legislative business Tuesday.

“We have an agreed-to product with the House, it certainly hasn’t been easy,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson), who sponsored the amendment comprising the plan. “Clearly constituents in my district—a very rural area that may see less convenience—they want to see privatization, that’s what they’ve asked for because they feel the state should be out of this business.”

According to the proposal, state-owned retail wine and spirits stores will be closed based upon a formula where the Liquor Control Board will be instructed that if one of the two of the closest licensees to a state-owned store is actively selling alcohol in the manner of a state-owned wine and spirits store, then the state-owned store will be forced to shut down.

Sunday, June 28, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Education funding debate highlighted budget’s first Senate step

Education funding debate highlighted budget’s first Senate step

The first step for the Senate in the continued movement of a Republican crafted FY 2015-2016 spending plan saw the legislation move out of the Senate Appropriations Committee along a straight party-line vote Sunday evening.

However, the committee action was permeated with debate over education funding after committee Minority Chairman Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) offered an amendment to fund education at the level proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

It was the second of three amendments Sen. Hughes offered to the budget bill.

“To say that the education investment proposal in House Bill 1192 is reflective of the needs and concerns of the people of the Commonwealth really does not make sense,” he said. “It shows folks are out of touch with what’s going on in the community.”

Sunday, June 28, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
Are budget stakeholders being told to prepare for a budget impasse?

Are budget stakeholders being told to prepare for a budget impasse?

As the July 1 start to the FY 2015-2016 is fast approaching and the possibility of a veto from Gov. Tom Wolf for a Republican-crafted budget plan looms, are lawmakers telling those that rely on state budget dollars to prepare for a long-term budget stalemate?

It depends on who one asks.

Sunday, June 28, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views

Liquor privatization plan to include leasing of wholesale system, eventual divestiture of retail stores

The Senate Law and Justice Committee is poised Sunday to vote on a compromise liquor privatization plan. During a Sunday afternoon briefing with reporters, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) gave some details about the plan expected to emerge in full on Sunday.

“It’s my understanding that it will contain leasing the wholesale component to our current liquor system and then divesting completely out of the retail side of the business,” he said.

He said the phase-out of the retail market will be “gradual” and take “a couple of years to occur.”

Friday, legislative Republican leaders said the budget they’ve come to an agreement to without the governor includes $220 million from the privatization of state liquor stores.

Saturday, June 27, 2015/Author: Jason Gottesman
Categories: News and Views
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