In Pa. House, a Fresh Push for Liquor Privatization

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A fresh push to privatize the state’s liquor store system is brewing in the Pennsylvania House, NewsWorks reports.

Republican House Majority Leader Dave Reed told NewsWorks that his chamber may revive a privatization bill that passed the House and failed the Senate two years ago.  The Senate’s Republican majority has gotten larger and more conservative since then.

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Study: In Pennsylvania, Very Rich Getting Richer, Everybody Else Getting Poorer

Updated with comment from the governor’s office.

In Pennsylvania, it really is true that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

Actually, strike that: The very rich are getting richer — and everybody else is is getting poorer.

A new study shows that the average income of the state’s families grew between 2009 and 2013, but only because the top 1 percent earned so much more than the other 99 percent of Pennsylvania residents: Everybody else — the bottom 99 percent of Pennsylvania families — saw their collective income decline by 1.1 percent.

The widening income gap was found across the country, but was particularly pronounced in Pennsylvania.

“The pattern is the same across all the states, which is the income is increasingly flowing up,” said Mark Price, an analyst with Pennsylvania’s Keystone Research Center. “It’s worse some places than others.”

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Kane Grand Jury: Scale Back Reporters’ Shield Law Because Our Job Was Hard

A new grand jury report is calling for weakening the Pennsylvania “Shield Law” that protects journalists from being forced to reveal their confidential sources. Why, you wonder? Surely there must be a good reason for undermining the freedom of the press, right?

Nahhhh.

The report was provided to the news media by a special prosecutor investigating allegations that Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaked material from a different grand jury to the Philadelphia Daily News. Earlier this month, the special prosecutor subpoenaed two journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer to try to uncover their sources for a report that a grand jury had recommended charges against Kane. The Inky fought back by invoking Pennsylvania’s awesome Shield Law, one of the strongest in our country.

And now the grand jury wants to blow a hole through that law, by adding a “criminal-fraud” exception for grand jury proceedings. Translation: If someone allegedly violates grand-jury secrecy rules while providing information a reporter, that reporter could be compelled to reveal their source.

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Wolf Goes to Battle With GOP

Tom Wolf

That didn’t take long. On only his second day in office, Gov. Tom Wolf started throwing down with Republicans — voiding some last-second picks for appointed offices that his predecessor, Gov. Tom Corbett, made before leaving office this week.

“Included among the two dozen “pending executive nominations” that were recalled by Mr. Wolf on Thursday were judicial nominations, the nomination of former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley to Temple University’s board of trustees and the appointment of William Lieberman to the state Turnpike Commission,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

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Docs: Grand Jury Recommended Charges Against Kane

Documents released today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirm that a grand jury has recommended charges be brought against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for the leak of information from an earlier grand jury.

The documents were unsealed as part of a broader court battle involving Kane, who is challenging the authority of the special prosecutor who led the grand jury, as well as the judge who appointed the prosecutor.

“Kane’s defense team argued a Montgomery County judge had no authority to appoint a special prosecutor to run a grand jury under state law and the state constitution’s separation of powers clause prohibits the court from investigating a member of the executive branch, Kane,” The Morning Call reports. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion to quash the grand jury and unsealed the records as requested by Kane’s defense lawyers.”
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Study: Pa. Gets D+ for Pre-School Education

Earlier this week, Philly Mag told the story of cutthroat competition among Philly parents to get young children into top-notch preschools. A new report from a national foundation suggests one reason why that’s the case — Pennsylvania lags behind the national average in nearly every measure of access to pre-K education. And the gap between the haves and the have-nots is, unsurprisingly getting wider.

The Quality Counts 2015 report from Education Weekly measured the states on a variety of criteria. Pennsylvania lagged behind most U.S. states in most of them:

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Three Predictions for Tom Wolf’s First Year

Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf takes office as governor of Pennsylvania today, and here’s the worry: That today — with the swearing-in, the pomp, the circumstance, and the Yuengling-free celebrations — might be the last good day of his term.

That’s probably an overwrought concern, but not by much. We’ve already discussed the reasons our new governor isn’t going to get much of a honeymoon — he’s staring down a gigantic deficit, and to fix it he needs the help of an ever-more-conservative Pennsylvania Legislature that might not be all that inclined to help him get anything done. It’s like trying to patch your ship in shark-infested waters, with the assistance of the sharks.

So how’s it all going to shake out? Three predictions for Tom Wolf’s first year in office:

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Former Philly Educator Named Wolf’s Secretary of Education

Pedro Rivera, a one-time Philadelphia educator who moved on to superintendent of the Lancaster school district, has been named the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education by Governor-elect Tom Wolf.

“Pennsylvania schools are struggling. My top priority is making sure our schools have the resources to teach our children the skills they need to succeed,” said Wolf said in a statement. “Pedro Rivera is nationally recognized for his efforts to improve urban education, and he will work with me to build a strong public education system and get Pennsylvania back on track.”
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Is Yuengling Banned From Wolf’s Inauguration?

Tom Wolf

He hasn’t been inaugurated yet, but incoming Gov. Tom Wolf already has a scandal on his hands.

State Rep. Mike Vereb on Thursday appeared on Dom Giordano’s radio show and said that Yuengling beer is not being served at Wolf’s inaugurral events this weekend — probably as political payback for the company’s support for “right-to-work” laws opposed by labor unions.

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