Government Affairs & General Updates
July 25, 2023
1. School groups call for state to move forward with plan to address school funding shortcomings as GOP leaders decline to appeal landmark court decision. The deadline for the Republican legislative leaders to appeal a landmark education funding decision to the state Supreme Court passed on Friday. Lawmakers should take action to address a now-final court ruling that Pennsylvania's system of funding public schools violates the constitutional rights of students in poorer school districts, lawyers for the districts and groups that sued said Monday, The Associated Press reported. The plaintiffs originally sued in 2014, arguing that Pennsylvania's system of paying for public schools is failing the poorest districts and contending that billions more dollars in state aid are necessary to meet the state's constitutional obligation. While the judge agreed, she also did not direct Pennsylvania's politically divided Legislature on how much more state aid to distribute, or how. The plaintiffs - including six school districts, the NAACP and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools - want lawmakers to comply with the judge's ruling by guaranteeing that each district has adequate resources. "The decision is now final and there is no excuse for state lawmakers to delay action any further," the plaintiffs' lawyers - from the Public Interest Law Center, the Education Law Center and the law firm of O'Melveny & Myers - said in a statement. The attorneys said that they will be monitoring the state's plan to address the funding inequities and inadequacies and could head back to court again if the states' response falls short.
2. Shapiro administration sheds light on regulatory changes on its agenda. A road map for regulatory actions being considered by the Shapiro administration is published in the new Pennsylvania Bulletin. The 44-page document lists regulations being drafted by state agencies covering a wide range of activities under state government oversight. The regulatory agenda establishes a timetable for when the regulations may be proposed, but notes that the nature and complexity of a regulation will affect that date. An executive order dating to 1996 requires a semi-annual publication of the agenda. "The agendas are compiled to provide members of the regulated community advanced notice of regulatory activity," according to the notice by the governor's office. "The Agenda represents the Administration's present intentions regarding future regulations."
3. Shapiro announces that Norfolk Southern has paid $1 million to western PA communities impacted by a February train derailment in Ohio. Governor Josh Shapiro announced Monday that Norfolk Southern Corporation, at his request, sent $1 million directly to communities in Western Pennsylvania to assist with community relief following the company's February train derailment. This comes as a key part of the multi-million dollar commitment Governor Shapiro secured from Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, including the first $1 million the company already repaid to Pennsylvania fire departments and first responders. Darlington Township has received $660,000 and Lawrence County has received $340,000 to use for community relief. Local leaders in Darlington Township and Lawrence County will determine how this funding will be directed to benefit their respective communities. "Every step of the way, my Administration has made clear that we are focused on delivering the help our communities need and holding Norfolk Southern accountable," Shapiro said.
4. Honoring dedication to service, and the Commonwealth - The Pennsylvania Society, as part of its 125th Year celebration, has announced the creation of a new award to be presented just once to honor three longtime, transformative Society leaders — Andrew J. Sordoni, Thomas Hagen and Roger Richards. Sordoni is a well-known Luzerne County business leader. Hagen and Richards are likewise pillars of the community in the Erie area, where they live. The new “Barr Ferree Award” — named for the founder of The Pennsylvania Society — will be presented at the 125th Annual Dinner Dec. 2 in New York City. An invitation-only reception for family and friends will be held in their honor the Friday evening of Pennsylvania Society Weekend. “On the occasion of the Society’s 125th year, it is appropriate that we acknowledge the vision, dedication and unflagging devotion of these three remarkable Society leaders,” said Society President Elizabeth Preate Havey. “Together, these three men share Mr. Ferree’s unselfish service and loyal stewardship to the organization, and his devotion to the Commonwealth. Their ongoing, decades-long efforts have unquestionably maintained the health and history of this organization. All three prioritized civility and civil discourse which continues to be a hallmark of The Pennsylvania Society.” “Tom, Roger, and Andy will be the first — and only — recipients of the Barr Ferree Award,” Preate Havey said. “I cannot imagine a more deserving trio of leaders who helped bring the Society into the 21st century, resulting in a more diverse and inclusive organization that more truly reflects today’s Pennsylvania. Read More
5. Biden’s leaving Julie Su at Labor — and already biz groups are challenging her authority - A trade group that has opposed Julie Su’s nomination to lead the Labor Department is demanding the Biden administration refrain from issuing a high-profile rule on gig workers until a Senate-confirmed secretary heads the department. Flex, the trade group for app-based companies including DoorDash, GrubHub, Lyft and Uber, argued in a letter on Monday that any rules and regulations issued while Su is acting secretary don’t have political legitimacy or constitutional authority. It’s an early hint at the challenges likely to be raised to the legitimacy of Su’s tenure as she serves as an indefinite acting secretary. And it echoes Republican arguments that any regulations issued by the Labor Department without a Senate-confirmed secretary in place could be subject to legal challenge. “Any action taken to finalize the proposed worker classification regulation under Ms. Su’s current leadership as Acting Secretary would circumvent the Senate’s constitutional role of providing advice and consent on nominees,” Flex CEO Kristin Sharp said in the letter addressed to President Joe Biden. It mirrored language others have used to forecast legal challenges to Su’s regulations. “The Department should not finalize its worker classification proposal before having a permanent Secretary.” Though it is publicly encouraging senators to support the nomination, the Biden administration has determined that Su doesn’t currently have enough votes to be confirmed in the Senate. The president plans to keep her in the role as acting secretary. Read More