Elevating Pa. voters’ say in choosing the president in 2024

Bill would advance primary date to March

  • Emily Previti/PA Post
President Trump’s standing in the eyes of Pennsylvania voters has improved a bit since last fall, according to the results of the latest poll from the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. Forty-one percent of voters say they believe the president has done a good enough job to deserve a second term, up from 37% in October. Still, a majority (57%) say it’s time for a change. Of the Pa. registered Democrats surveyed, 22% back former VP Joe Biden, while Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren earn 15% and 14%, respectively. The survey covered other topics, such as whether voters believe Pennsylvania is on the right track and what they think of natural gas fracking. Tune into Smart Talk at 9 a.m. this morning for an interview with F&M’s Berwood Yost about the poll, and stay tuned for stories about the other issues from PA Post and our partners. –Emily Previti, PA Post Reporter
The Pennsylvania State Capitol is seen in this file photo.

Amy Sisk / WESA

FILE PHOTO: The Pennsylvania State Capitol is seen in this file photo. (Amy Sisk / WESA)

  • The Pa. Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would move the  presidential primary to the third Tuesday in March, matching the date for the Florida, Arizona, Ohio and Illinois primaries, reports PennLive’s Jan Murphy. Right now, just ten states hold their presidential primary later than Pa., according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

  • But maybe this year’s April 28 primary won’t be too late to have a big say in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. That’s the gist of a story from a few weeks back by York Daily Record reporter Candy Woodall. She writes: “If the race is still close and there’s no big winner after Super Tuesday, when 1,345 Democratic delegates are up for grabs, all eyes could turn to Pennsylvania. There are six weeks between Super Tuesday and the Pennsylvania primary, which awards 176 delegates. Candidates are expected to make several campaign stops throughout the large, diverse state in that time period.”

  • Pennsylvania is among 13 states involved in the Transportation and Climate Initiative to curb emissions. The plan is still being drafted, but Pa. Senate Republicans used a committee hearing on Wednesday to signal they are considering putting a limit on suppliers and distributors amid concerns about price hikes for consumers. WESA’s Kathleen Davis has the full story.

  • Several states require paid leave, according to NCSL — but not Pennsylvania. That would change under a state Senate proposal that would require Pennsylvanians to kick in less than one percent of their pre-tax paychecks to an emergency paid leave fund. Workers making no more than $1,081 per week (the statewide average) would be eligible to withdraw up to 90 percent of their salary while dealing with a range of issues preventing them from working. People making more would get 90 percent of the average weekly wage plus half of the rest of their salaries.. More details on the bills other provisions — such as protections for workers that would essentially hold their jobs while they’re out on leave — are in this story from Capitol Bureau Chief Katie Meyer.

  • Also: Gov. Tom Wolf is re-upping his $4.5 billion RestorePA infrastructure investment plan, which would be funded by a natural gas severance tax that probably can’t pass the GOP-controlled legislature, Katie reports. Wolf is also pushing to use $1.1 billion of redevelopment bond proceeds to pay for removing lead and asbestos from day care centers, schools and public water sources, reports Marc Levy for the Associated Press.

  • Finally, former Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold was sworn in Wednesday as the new senator representing Pa.’s 48th District. Elizabeth Hardison has more here for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Best of the rest

Bob Casey and Pat Toomey

AP Photos

In this composite photo, Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey, talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana), while Pat Toomey takes the Senate subway at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, after impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress ended for the day. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

  • A Trump super PAC is targeting Democratic Sen. Bob Casey with a new TV ad — even though Casey isn’t up for re-election until 2024. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari explains here.

  • At the impeachment trial’s first day of Q&A, Sen. Casey didn’t show much concern about the pressure from pro-Trump groups. Casey was an active questioner and used Twitter to showcase his thinking, including this video update posted during a break, and this response to one of his own questions.

  • Pennsylvania’s other senator, Republican Pat Toomey, still isn’t convinced the Senate needs to hear from more witnesses. The Inquirer printed this Toomey remark from Wednesday: “As I’ve said from the beginning, my decision about a witness is going to be whether or not there is a fact in dispute that a witness can shed enough light on that it could resolve the dispute, and do so in a way that would change my mind about how I ought to vote on the final question. And I’m very, very skeptical … that that criteria is going to be met.” Casey, meanwhile, is urging voters to call their senators to demand witnesses.

  • The Morning Call‘s Laura Olson has a good wrap-up of what Casey and Toomey asked yesterday.

  • A former Catholic school teacher fired for being pregnant and unmarried is taking her case to trial after a Northumberland County judge declined to reinstate her. Naiad Reich had been teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School near Shamokin for just a few months when she was let go by school officials, who later admitted they probably would’ve kept Reich on staff if she’d married the father of her child. John Beauge has been following the story and has the latest for PennLive.

  • A new study identifies the school districts most affected by boundary lines that divide affluent districts from neighboring low-income ones. The report compared poverty rates, highlighting the biggest disparities between adjacent school districts, and found an “inequality belt” comprised of seven districts in Western Pennsylvania. WESA’s Sara Schneider has more details here.

  • Philadelphia City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, political consultant Dawn Chavous, face up to 40 years in prison and half a million dollars in fines for corruption and other charges linked to an alleged quid pro quo scheme that was the focus of a five-year federal investigation. The 22-count indictment ties them to the expansion of Philadelphia-based nonprofit charter school operator Universal Companies into Milwaukee, where the former school board president was convicted last spring of taking bribes from Universal executives, report Max Marin and Ryan Briggs in this story for WHYY.


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