Monday heds: LCB, budget & Sandusky

Published by Tim McNulty on .


Good morning.

The state House may move on Majority Leader Mike Turzai's liquor privatization bill in the next couple days, while Democrats (with ties to unions fighting against it) are warning residents of rural counties would lose service under the proposal (as they have in Washington state).

State budget deliberations are kicking into gear, and so is the Jerry Sandusky trial.

The Supreme Court is set to decide on Obama's health care reform package soon. Obama is campaigning in Philadelphia tomorrow, and Mitt Romney may also be in the state this week.

UPDATE: A Romney bus tour will come through the state Saturday, but we don't know where as yet. From the campaign:

Boston, MA – Mitt Romney will meet with America's families and business owners in small towns in six states as part of his "Every Town Counts" five-day bus tour. The "Every Town Counts" bus tour will begin in New Hampshire on June 15 and will continue on to small towns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan.

"For three and a half years, President Obama has paid little attention to the everyday concerns of the American people," Mitt Romney said. "President Obama has offered no hope for the future, and he has left American families to bear the burden of his failed policies. Too many American families have experienced a lost job, faced foreclosure, or been forced to spend their kids' college savings just to make ends meet. These are not statistics – these are our fellow Americans. In America's small towns, you don't find despair -- you find boundless optimism. We know we can make America better, and that is why I am running for president."

Believe In America: Every Town Counts Bus Tour Outline

· Friday, June 15 – New Hampshire

· Saturday, June 16 – Pennsylvania

· Sunday, June 17 – Ohio

· Monday, June 18 – Wisconsin and Iowa

· Tuesday, June 19 – Michigan


Ferlo gets North Hills under new map

Published by Laura Olson on .

A state panel has given final approval to a new set of legislative boundaries that, among other changes, would shift two Allegheny County seats eastward.

Both seats were proposed to be moved in the preliminary plan approved in April, though the final map redraws the district currently represented by Democratic Sen. Jim Ferlo of Highland Park to now include much of the Republican-heavy North Hills.

Democrats protested that change and others in the Republican-drawn map, arguing that the updates mean that former GOP Sen. Jane Orie's district is being moved in name only.

"At the end of the day all we're doing is substituting the number" of the district being moved with that of Mr. Ferlo's district, said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills. "We have plan that's going to perpetuate Republican dominance in the state Legislature."

Those new maps are the state Legislative Reapportionment Commission's second attempt to craft new districts to reflect population changes in the 2010 census.

The boundaries approved last fall were rejected in January by the state Supreme Court, which said the plan divided too many localities in its attempt to create districts of equal population. The new maps likely will face judicial review again before taking effect.

The revisions will not affect the fall general election, which will take place under the current legislative boundaries.

The plan passed the five-member commission this afternoon -- after a 50-minute delay during which panel members conferred one-on-one -- on a vote of 4-1, with Mr. Costa as the sole negative vote. He offered an alternative plan that was defeated.

It continues previous efforts to relocate the South Hills seat previously held by now-Allegheny County controller Chelsa Wagner to Allentown. Four other House seats also will be shifted to other parts of the state, which Republican leaders attributed to changes in population.

"We take into account what have been the population shifts within the state of Pennsylvania such that there is fair representation for each and every area," said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods.

The map-makers also tweaked their preliminary plan so that several candidates who reside outside of the districts that they are seeking could continue to serve if they are elected in November.

Those candidates include D. Raja, the Mt. Lebanon businessman who bested state Rep. Mark Mustio of Moon and Bethel Park activist Sue Means in the primary, and the Democratic candidate in the 37th District race, Greg Parks of Pleasant Hills.


Final vote on legislative maps today

Published by Laura Olson on .

In what continues to feel like the sequel to the movie Groundhog Day, there's a meeting at 2 p.m. in Harrisburg to approve new legislative district maps.

The preliminary version of those maps -- which were quickly drawn after the ones crafted last fall were tossed by the courts -- would still move an Allegheny County House seat to the Lehigh Valley.

But two other Pittsburgh-area seats that had been proposed to be merge would remain separate, and the seat of former Republican Sen. Jane Orie would be sent to Monroe County instead of Democratic Sen. Jim Brewster's.

But that draft plan was approved in April, prior to the primary, and at least three current candidates do not reside in the districts for which they are running.

Those candidates include D. Raja, the Mt. Lebanon businessman who bested state Rep. Mark Mustio of Moon and Bethel Park activist Sue Means in the primary.

We'll post copies of the final maps as soon as they are available electronically.

UPDATE: Senate maps here, and description of municipal breakdowns here.

House maps here and breakdowns here.


Santorum's "Patriot Voices" nonprofit

Published by Tim McNulty on .

That Rick Santorum non profit we mentioned the other day is called "Patriot Voices."

Such non profits (of the type attacking Gov. Tom Corbett lately) are the latest wave in (the kinda/sorta) SuperPAC era -- they can engage in politics as long as it's couched as educational work on behalf of social welfare issues and they don't have to disclose much in the way of donors or spending.Patriot Voices

From CBS News:

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum launched a new group to work to defeat President Obama and his "radical agenda," according to an email announcing the formation of the new group.

In an interview Friday morning on "Fox and Friends," Santorum said his new organization, Patriot Voices, will support presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and make sure "Mitt is the next president of the United States."

Patriot Voices is an IRS-designated 501c4 focused on social welfare and allowed to participate in political activity. It joins the fray of outside groups that can raise unlimited funds by individuals and corporations. It has a goal of attracting one million members to "transform America's political landscape."

Santorum, who dropped out of the presidential race in April, said on "Fox and Friends" that Patriot Voices will fill a void and talk about issues few are addressing. His new organization will focus on American "culture and how it's being changed by this administration, whether it's religious liberty or life."

The former Pennsylvania senator also said he will focus on "people left behind."

"Democrats who want to make people more dependent and Republicans who don't seem to be talking about the 70 percent of Americans who don't go to college," Santorum said on Fox.


Corbett backs full liquor reform

Published by Karen Langley on .

Gov. Tom Corbett this morning told a radio interviewer he will back only full privatization of the state liquor system.

Speaking on the Dom Giordano talk radio show, the governor said he spoke two days ago about the topic with House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, who has made privatizing the state stores a signature issue.

"I said if we're going to do it, let's do the whole thing," Corbett said. "I know he's working on it. I'll be talking with him on a regular basis."

Corbett said he could not support a proposal that would privatize only the sale of wine in the state. Turzai had pushed to close the more than 600 wine and spirits stores and auction licenses to private vendors, but that effort was sidetracked in December when a House committee modified his bill to keep the liquor stores open.

In February, spokesman Kevin Harley said the governor wanted to sell the liquor stores but was willing to support reforms, like flexible pricing, until that happened.

"Until privatization becomes a reality, the governor's in favor of making the system as consumer-friendly and efficient as a government monopoly can be," he said at the time.

Turzai took to Twitter to thank the governor for joining the all-or-nothing privatization movement: "@GovernorCorbett came out for my legislation today to fully divest the state from selling wine and liquor. It is good to have him on board."

And, to drive home the point, @RepTurzai added: "What do you think? Should the state of Pennsylvania be in business selling booze? Is selling hooch a true function of government?"

The free-market Commonwealth Foundation also offered its praise: "We applaud the governor for getting out in front of the effort to free Pennsylvanians from a monopoly of mediocrity, mismanagement and manipulation. No half measures will suffice here, and he clearly recognizes that more jobs, better prices and greater personal freedom come from the full divestiture of this draconian dinosaur."

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for House Republicans, says a floor vote on the proposal is expected on Monday or Tuesday.