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A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.?s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O?Keefe
Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee
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                    [title] => A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.?s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O?Keefe
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                    [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 04:10:25 +0000
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                    [description] => 
A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe

A state liquor store front in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison). Ever wonder why you have to bring alcohol to your favorite restaurant? Ever wonder why your favorite bar closes and never reopens? Situations like the above happen primarily because of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?s rules and regulations. In the first situation, a […]

The post A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe

A state liquor store front in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison).

Ever wonder why you have to bring alcohol to your favorite restaurant? Ever wonder why your favorite bar closes and never reopens?

Situations like the above happen primarily because of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?s rules and regulations.

In the first situation, a restaurant may not have a liquor license because few are available in that county, and the ones that go for sale are costly. Pennsylvania residents usually find these restaurants in upscale communities across the state.

In the second situation, the problem is the opposite. Licenses are so plentiful that bar owners face a ton of competition and can?t make a go of it. Moreover, these bars are usually located in low-income communities in the state.

In 2016, the state Legislature passed Act 39, which allows the PLCB to auction off many dead or expired licenses. They were the first ?new? licenses in decades. The agency conducts three or four auctions a year, offering 25 to 35 licenses across the state.

However, the prices for the licenses vary widely. For example, in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in the state, the top bid for a license in June of 2020 was $250,112. On the other hand, the lowest bid was $25,111 for a license in Schuylkill County.

Seven licenses, one each, in Armstrong, Cameron, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties, received no bids.

Johnstown lawmaker scores big win in fight with Pa. liquor board. But the fight continues | Mark O?Keefe

The number of licenses available also varies widely among counties. As of Jan. 22, there were no licenses available for auction in 22 counties, including Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Lehigh, and Franklin counties.
Philadelphia County had the most licenses available, with 167.

Next were Luzerne, 142; Allegheny, 121; Schuylkill, 63; Lackawanna, 54; Cambria, 48; Beaver, 45; Fayette, 38; Westmoreland, 32; and Carbon, 27.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, says the differences in prices and availability of licenses for auction show that the PLCB?s system needs an overhaul.

He said it also shows why the PLCB waged a two-year battle with him to deny the public information about how many deactivated restaurant liquors are available for auction in each of Pennsylvania?s 67 counties.

After being denied the request by the PLCB, Burns appealed to the state Office of Open Records, which ruled in his favor. The PLCB appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court, which also ruled in his favor.

Finally, the PLCB appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court which issued a one-sentence order, denying the appeal and upholding the Commonwealth Court ruling.

?In a victory for the people, the LCB has learned that it works for us, not the other way around,? said Burns.

Burns wants to change the system to allow restaurant and bar owners to sell their licenses across county lines. Currently, they can only sell their licenses within counties for the most part.

Should the number of liquor licenses in Pa. be public information? A Cambria County lawmaker thinks so. So he?s suing the state

?My proposal would bring Pennsylvania?s liquor license system into the 21st century,? Burns said. ?Our commonwealth has changed in the 80 years since the license system was introduced, and it?s time to update it to more accurately reflect population changes and better meet today?s business demands.?

He said the change would benefit mom-and-pop bars and restaurants by freeing them from archaic regulations and red tape, adding that such a plan would even out liquor licenses, creating economic growth and thousands of jobs across Pennsylvania.

Burns noted that bar and restaurant owners in counties that have far too many licenses could sell their licenses to the prospective business owners in high-growth counties that are desperately seeking a license.

?These simple changes would allow small businesses to grow and allow the supply of licenses to shift to meet the demands of the modern era,? Burns said. ?It is time for the legislature ? and the LCB ? to enable these cross-county sales, and to take the licensing handcuffs off of our local businesses.?

Instead of a county-by-county basis, Burns? bill would establish a statewide liquor-license-to-population ratio.

The bill would allow licensees in counties substantially above or substantially below that average to transfer licenses across county lines. One-third of counties with license ratios around the statewide average would be unaffected. Under the bill, the PCLB would recalculate the formulas every 10 years following the census

?Without this legislation enabling these transfers, the economies of some areas of our state will continue to be slowed due to a shortage of licenses, while other parts will continue to have a glut of them, essentially making them worthless,? Burns said.

?Rather than letting developers negotiate sweetheart deals to transfer licenses at a predetermined price, my plan creates a transparent process that allows the free market ? and not politicians or bureaucrats ? to determine the value of a license,? he continued.

Burns would also like to expand the membership of the PLCB from three to five, giving each of the four legislative caucuses ? House Democrats and Republicans, and Senate Democrats and Republicans ? one appointment.

Burns said this would dilute the power of the governor, who currently appoints all three board members. Furthermore, he added that it would provide more input into the PLCB?s decision-making process.

?I believe lawmakers of both parties, in both chambers, should have a voice in who oversees alcohol sales and licensing in Pennsylvania,? Burns said. ?The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is a vast, powerful agency tasked with operating hundreds of retail wine and spirits stores, licensing thousands of venues, and conducting alcohol education and training.

?Given its immense reach and say-so, I believe its decision-makers should come from different paths than a three-person board nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate,? he added.

It would also be a revenue-neutral move, as Burns would divide existing board payroll by five instead of three, paring board members? salaries from $78,751 to $47,500, and the board chairman?s salary from $81,890 to $49,500. 

Opinion contributor Mark O?Keefe, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is the former editorial page editor of the Uniontown Herald-Standard. His work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star?s Commentary Page. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Mark OKeefe

The post A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/a-cambria-county-lawmaker-has-a-plan-to-make-pa-s-liquor-license-system-more-competitive-will-it-work-mark-okeefe/ ) [summary] =>
A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe

A state liquor store front in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison). Ever wonder why you have to bring alcohol to your favorite restaurant? Ever wonder why your favorite bar closes and never reopens? Situations like the above happen primarily because of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?s rules and regulations. In the first situation, a […]

The post A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe

A state liquor store front in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison).

Ever wonder why you have to bring alcohol to your favorite restaurant? Ever wonder why your favorite bar closes and never reopens?

Situations like the above happen primarily because of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board?s rules and regulations.

In the first situation, a restaurant may not have a liquor license because few are available in that county, and the ones that go for sale are costly. Pennsylvania residents usually find these restaurants in upscale communities across the state.

In the second situation, the problem is the opposite. Licenses are so plentiful that bar owners face a ton of competition and can?t make a go of it. Moreover, these bars are usually located in low-income communities in the state.

In 2016, the state Legislature passed Act 39, which allows the PLCB to auction off many dead or expired licenses. They were the first ?new? licenses in decades. The agency conducts three or four auctions a year, offering 25 to 35 licenses across the state.

However, the prices for the licenses vary widely. For example, in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties in the state, the top bid for a license in June of 2020 was $250,112. On the other hand, the lowest bid was $25,111 for a license in Schuylkill County.

Seven licenses, one each, in Armstrong, Cameron, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland counties, received no bids.

Johnstown lawmaker scores big win in fight with Pa. liquor board. But the fight continues | Mark O?Keefe

The number of licenses available also varies widely among counties. As of Jan. 22, there were no licenses available for auction in 22 counties, including Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Lehigh, and Franklin counties.
Philadelphia County had the most licenses available, with 167.

Next were Luzerne, 142; Allegheny, 121; Schuylkill, 63; Lackawanna, 54; Cambria, 48; Beaver, 45; Fayette, 38; Westmoreland, 32; and Carbon, 27.

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, says the differences in prices and availability of licenses for auction show that the PLCB?s system needs an overhaul.

He said it also shows why the PLCB waged a two-year battle with him to deny the public information about how many deactivated restaurant liquors are available for auction in each of Pennsylvania?s 67 counties.

After being denied the request by the PLCB, Burns appealed to the state Office of Open Records, which ruled in his favor. The PLCB appealed that ruling to Commonwealth Court, which also ruled in his favor.

Finally, the PLCB appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court which issued a one-sentence order, denying the appeal and upholding the Commonwealth Court ruling.

?In a victory for the people, the LCB has learned that it works for us, not the other way around,? said Burns.

Burns wants to change the system to allow restaurant and bar owners to sell their licenses across county lines. Currently, they can only sell their licenses within counties for the most part.

Should the number of liquor licenses in Pa. be public information? A Cambria County lawmaker thinks so. So he?s suing the state

?My proposal would bring Pennsylvania?s liquor license system into the 21st century,? Burns said. ?Our commonwealth has changed in the 80 years since the license system was introduced, and it?s time to update it to more accurately reflect population changes and better meet today?s business demands.?

He said the change would benefit mom-and-pop bars and restaurants by freeing them from archaic regulations and red tape, adding that such a plan would even out liquor licenses, creating economic growth and thousands of jobs across Pennsylvania.

Burns noted that bar and restaurant owners in counties that have far too many licenses could sell their licenses to the prospective business owners in high-growth counties that are desperately seeking a license.

?These simple changes would allow small businesses to grow and allow the supply of licenses to shift to meet the demands of the modern era,? Burns said. ?It is time for the legislature ? and the LCB ? to enable these cross-county sales, and to take the licensing handcuffs off of our local businesses.?

Instead of a county-by-county basis, Burns? bill would establish a statewide liquor-license-to-population ratio.

The bill would allow licensees in counties substantially above or substantially below that average to transfer licenses across county lines. One-third of counties with license ratios around the statewide average would be unaffected. Under the bill, the PCLB would recalculate the formulas every 10 years following the census

?Without this legislation enabling these transfers, the economies of some areas of our state will continue to be slowed due to a shortage of licenses, while other parts will continue to have a glut of them, essentially making them worthless,? Burns said.

?Rather than letting developers negotiate sweetheart deals to transfer licenses at a predetermined price, my plan creates a transparent process that allows the free market ? and not politicians or bureaucrats ? to determine the value of a license,? he continued.

Burns would also like to expand the membership of the PLCB from three to five, giving each of the four legislative caucuses ? House Democrats and Republicans, and Senate Democrats and Republicans ? one appointment.

Burns said this would dilute the power of the governor, who currently appoints all three board members. Furthermore, he added that it would provide more input into the PLCB?s decision-making process.

?I believe lawmakers of both parties, in both chambers, should have a voice in who oversees alcohol sales and licensing in Pennsylvania,? Burns said. ?The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is a vast, powerful agency tasked with operating hundreds of retail wine and spirits stores, licensing thousands of venues, and conducting alcohol education and training.

?Given its immense reach and say-so, I believe its decision-makers should come from different paths than a three-person board nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate,? he added.

It would also be a revenue-neutral move, as Burns would divide existing board payroll by five instead of three, paring board members? salaries from $78,751 to $47,500, and the board chairman?s salary from $81,890 to $49,500. 

Opinion contributor Mark O?Keefe, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is the former editorial page editor of the Uniontown Herald-Standard. His work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star?s Commentary Page. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Mark OKeefe

The post A Cambria County lawmaker has a plan to make Pa.'s liquor license system more competitive. Will it work? | Mark O'Keefe first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624248625 ) [1] => Array ( [title] => Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/RUIo3UVzi2s/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 03:03:06 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4196 [description] =>
Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com) Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers. So here?s another sign that things are slowly returning to normal ? we can start thinking about outdoor fireworks displays. And state lawmakers can start thinking about ways to regulate them. Enter Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, who?s sponsoring a bill that would give municipal governments the authority to […]

The post Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

So here?s another sign that things are slowly returning to normal ? we can start thinking about outdoor fireworks displays. And state lawmakers can start thinking about ways to regulate them.

Enter Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, who?s sponsoring a bill that would give municipal governments the authority to enact their own fireworks ordinances ? as long as they don?t conflict with existing state law. Which should come as significant relief for local leaders concerned about things that go bang in the night.

?With the arrival of the summer months and Independence Day close at hand there is once again a growing concern on the part of residents regarding the use of consumer fireworks. Last summer we witnessed widespread abuse of the use of fireworks in many residential neighborhoods that proved very disruptive to people?s lives and undermined their quality of life by having to endure the discharge of such fireworks throughout the day and late into the night,? Freeman said in a statement released by his office. ?This disruptive behavior is unacceptable and must be reined in.?

(Image via pxHere.com)

As it?s currently written, Freeman?s bill would limit the use of fireworks to ?between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with extended hours for certain holidays. Additionally, the legislation would require each consumer fireworks purchase to include a notification that provides the conditions, prohibitions and limitations for using fireworks.?

A first-time violator would be punished with a summary offense and a fine between $100 and $500. A repeat offense, committed within one year of a prior conviction, would be a third-degree misdemeanor, and violators would face a fine of between $500 and $1,000.

?We need to give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and impose substantial penalties for violating local ordinances. My proposed legislation will give them that option,? Freeman said.

Freeman, who voted against the 2017 state law that allows those aged 18 and older to purchase consumer grade fireworks, also is sponsoring legislation that would repeal the state?s updated 2017 fireworks law, reverting to what was previously permitted in Pennsylvania, his office said.

?One of the reasons I opposed making these fireworks legal back in 2017 was because I thought they would be disruptive and unsafe,? Freeman said in a statement. ?If those using fireworks cannot do it responsibly with consideration for how disruptive they can be to a neighborhood, then the Legislature has no other recourse than to repeal the 2017 fireworks law.

?If we can?t get the votes in the Legislature necessary for an outright repeal of the 2017 fireworks law then, at the very least, we need to enact my legislation to give local governments the authority to crack down on the abusive use of fireworks so that communities don?t have to endure the type of disruptive behavior caused by an irresponsible use of fireworks,? he concluded.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
After meeting with activists, an audit of Pennsylvania?s 2020 election results is a ?very real possibility,? a top Pa. Senate Republican has said. Stephen Caruso has the story.

A top Senate Republican who?s holding up cocktails-to-go has said that Pennsylvania has seen a ?large uptick? in alcohol-related incidents; state police data says otherwiseMarley Parish reports.

Legislative Republicans and the Democratic Wolf administration are continuing to debate the contours of charter school reformParish also reports.

Pennsylvania has preserved 30 farms, more than 2,300 acres, to the tune of $5.1 millionCassie Miller reports.

In a blow to LGBTQ parents, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against Philadelphia in a key adoption case, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

The chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee is seeking permanent scholarship funding for historically Black land grant colleges, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa writes.

In voting to deny medals to U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metro Police who defended them ? and the U.S. Capitol ? during the Jan. 6 insurrection, 21 House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th Districthave hit a new low of election denialism, I write in a new column.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Mark O?Keefe has a few thoughts about how to reform the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. And an addiction expert says it?s a bad idea to expand the sales of canned alcoholic beverages in the state.

En la Estrella-Capital: Las empresas de servicios públicos de Pa. dicen que pueden satisfacer las necesidades de energía del verano del 2021. Y con la Oficina de Aplicación de la Ley Canina al borde del precipicio, los partidarios dicen que es hora de un ?voto al favor? de los aumentos de las tarifas de licencia.

Philadelphia City Hall (Image via pxHere.com)

Elsewhere.
Philadelphia City Council
 has reached a budget deal that includes more money for violence prevention programs, the Inquirer reports.
Westmoreland County commissioners have overhauled the county?s election bureau, leaving the director?s job in limbo, the Tribune-Review reports.
PennLive takes readers inside York County?s new, $2 million morgue (paywall).
In the new Franklin & Marshall College poll, Pennsylvanians support major changes to state election law, LancasterOnline reports (paywall).
New rules for cocktail sales are causing confusion for Lehigh Valley restaurants and bars, the Morning Call reports.
A Luzerne County mayor says he thinks he can reach a settlement in a lawsuit alleging a Sunshine Act violation by the Wyoming Valley West School Board, the Citizens? Voice reports (paywall).
Former Gov. Tom Ridge?s family is hoping for a full recovery, as he ?faces a long road? after suffering a stroke earlier this week, GoErie reports.

Here?s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM has more on the ?historic? anti-violence funding deal that Philadelphia City Council reached on Thursday.
Gov. Tom Wolf?s approval rating has dropped 13 points from a year ago in the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll, WITF-FM reports.
Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Pittsburgh on Monday, PoliticsPA reports.
The healthcare industry is cheering the U.S. Supreme Court?s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
State offices are closed in observance of the Juneteenth Holiday.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
We?ll go out this week with a solo track from former Smiths? guitarist Johnny Marr. From his 2014 LP, ?Playland,? here?s the hard-charging ?Easy Money.?

Friday?s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Tampa notched a 2-1 win over the Isles on Thursday
, taking the series lead in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup semifinal match-up. The ?Bolts? Brayden Point scored for the sixth, straight game on the way to the win.

And now you?re up to date.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by John L. Micek

The post Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/just-in-time-for-your-post-lockdown-summer-pa-lawmaker-wants-to-rein-in-fireworks-friday-morning-coffee/ ) [summary] =>
Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com) Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers. So here?s another sign that things are slowly returning to normal ? we can start thinking about outdoor fireworks displays. And state lawmakers can start thinking about ways to regulate them. Enter Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, who?s sponsoring a bill that would give municipal governments the authority to […]

The post Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

So here?s another sign that things are slowly returning to normal ? we can start thinking about outdoor fireworks displays. And state lawmakers can start thinking about ways to regulate them.

Enter Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, who?s sponsoring a bill that would give municipal governments the authority to enact their own fireworks ordinances ? as long as they don?t conflict with existing state law. Which should come as significant relief for local leaders concerned about things that go bang in the night.

?With the arrival of the summer months and Independence Day close at hand there is once again a growing concern on the part of residents regarding the use of consumer fireworks. Last summer we witnessed widespread abuse of the use of fireworks in many residential neighborhoods that proved very disruptive to people?s lives and undermined their quality of life by having to endure the discharge of such fireworks throughout the day and late into the night,? Freeman said in a statement released by his office. ?This disruptive behavior is unacceptable and must be reined in.?

(Image via pxHere.com)

As it?s currently written, Freeman?s bill would limit the use of fireworks to ?between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with extended hours for certain holidays. Additionally, the legislation would require each consumer fireworks purchase to include a notification that provides the conditions, prohibitions and limitations for using fireworks.?

A first-time violator would be punished with a summary offense and a fine between $100 and $500. A repeat offense, committed within one year of a prior conviction, would be a third-degree misdemeanor, and violators would face a fine of between $500 and $1,000.

?We need to give local governments the ability to deal with this disruptive behavior and impose substantial penalties for violating local ordinances. My proposed legislation will give them that option,? Freeman said.

Freeman, who voted against the 2017 state law that allows those aged 18 and older to purchase consumer grade fireworks, also is sponsoring legislation that would repeal the state?s updated 2017 fireworks law, reverting to what was previously permitted in Pennsylvania, his office said.

?One of the reasons I opposed making these fireworks legal back in 2017 was because I thought they would be disruptive and unsafe,? Freeman said in a statement. ?If those using fireworks cannot do it responsibly with consideration for how disruptive they can be to a neighborhood, then the Legislature has no other recourse than to repeal the 2017 fireworks law.

?If we can?t get the votes in the Legislature necessary for an outright repeal of the 2017 fireworks law then, at the very least, we need to enact my legislation to give local governments the authority to crack down on the abusive use of fireworks so that communities don?t have to endure the type of disruptive behavior caused by an irresponsible use of fireworks,? he concluded.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
After meeting with activists, an audit of Pennsylvania?s 2020 election results is a ?very real possibility,? a top Pa. Senate Republican has said. Stephen Caruso has the story.

A top Senate Republican who?s holding up cocktails-to-go has said that Pennsylvania has seen a ?large uptick? in alcohol-related incidents; state police data says otherwiseMarley Parish reports.

Legislative Republicans and the Democratic Wolf administration are continuing to debate the contours of charter school reformParish also reports.

Pennsylvania has preserved 30 farms, more than 2,300 acres, to the tune of $5.1 millionCassie Miller reports.

In a blow to LGBTQ parents, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against Philadelphia in a key adoption case, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

The chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee is seeking permanent scholarship funding for historically Black land grant colleges, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa writes.

In voting to deny medals to U.S. Capitol and D.C. Metro Police who defended them ? and the U.S. Capitol ? during the Jan. 6 insurrection, 21 House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th Districthave hit a new low of election denialism, I write in a new column.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Mark O?Keefe has a few thoughts about how to reform the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. And an addiction expert says it?s a bad idea to expand the sales of canned alcoholic beverages in the state.

En la Estrella-Capital: Las empresas de servicios públicos de Pa. dicen que pueden satisfacer las necesidades de energía del verano del 2021. Y con la Oficina de Aplicación de la Ley Canina al borde del precipicio, los partidarios dicen que es hora de un ?voto al favor? de los aumentos de las tarifas de licencia.

Philadelphia City Hall (Image via pxHere.com)

Elsewhere.
Philadelphia City Council
 has reached a budget deal that includes more money for violence prevention programs, the Inquirer reports.
Westmoreland County commissioners have overhauled the county?s election bureau, leaving the director?s job in limbo, the Tribune-Review reports.
PennLive takes readers inside York County?s new, $2 million morgue (paywall).
In the new Franklin & Marshall College poll, Pennsylvanians support major changes to state election law, LancasterOnline reports (paywall).
New rules for cocktail sales are causing confusion for Lehigh Valley restaurants and bars, the Morning Call reports.
A Luzerne County mayor says he thinks he can reach a settlement in a lawsuit alleging a Sunshine Act violation by the Wyoming Valley West School Board, the Citizens? Voice reports (paywall).
Former Gov. Tom Ridge?s family is hoping for a full recovery, as he ?faces a long road? after suffering a stroke earlier this week, GoErie reports.

Here?s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM has more on the ?historic? anti-violence funding deal that Philadelphia City Council reached on Thursday.
Gov. Tom Wolf?s approval rating has dropped 13 points from a year ago in the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll, WITF-FM reports.
Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Pittsburgh on Monday, PoliticsPA reports.
The healthcare industry is cheering the U.S. Supreme Court?s ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, Roll Call reports.

What Goes On.
State offices are closed in observance of the Juneteenth Holiday.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
We?ll go out this week with a solo track from former Smiths? guitarist Johnny Marr. From his 2014 LP, ?Playland,? here?s the hard-charging ?Easy Money.?

Friday?s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Tampa notched a 2-1 win over the Isles on Thursday
, taking the series lead in Game 3 of their Stanley Cup semifinal match-up. The ?Bolts? Brayden Point scored for the sixth, straight game on the way to the win.

And now you?re up to date.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by John L. Micek

The post Just in time for your post-lockdown summer, Pa. lawmaker wants to rein in fireworks | Friday Morning Coffee first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624244586 ) [2] => Array ( [title] => An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/uie_mBMzkes/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 02:00:52 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4193 [description] =>
An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates

Stock photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images This story was corrected at 9 a.m on Saturday, 6/19/21, to correctly identify WinRed as a conservative fundraising platform. If campaign donors aren?t careful, they could be committing to future contributions without realizing it. Republicans Sean Parnell, of Pittsburgh, and Kathy Barnette, of Huntingdon Valley, both candidates vying for retiring […]

The post An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates

Stock photo by
Juanmonino/Getty Images

This story was corrected at 9 a.m on Saturday, 6/19/21, to correctly identify WinRed as a conservative fundraising platform.

If campaign donors aren?t careful, they could be committing to future contributions without realizing it.

Republicans Sean Parnell, of Pittsburgh, and Kathy Barnette, of Huntingdon Valley, both candidates vying for retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey?s, R-Pa., seat, are the latest Pennsylvania politicians to take a page out of former President Donald Trump?s financing playbook ? one that automatically signs donors up for monthly donations.

?The U.S. Senate is evenly divided,? a message on Parnell?s donation page reads. ?Senate control depends on you ? and me.?

Under that message is a pre-checked box that automatically signs donors up for a recurring payment. Unless the donor unchecks it on their own, they could be committing to a monthly donation, which ranges from $5 to $5,800.

WinRed, a conservative fundraising platform, powers the sites. Gerrit Lansing launched the platform in 2019 to compete with ActBlue, the Democratic political action committee.

WinRed did not respond to a request for comment on the fundraising tactic.

?Trump knows to save our nation, we must win back the Senate,? a message on Parnell?s page reads. ?But we can?t do it [without] you. Commit to a second donation on the 30th to join Sean and Trump back in the fight to take back the Senate, protect our freedoms, and save America.?

If the box under that message isn?t unchecked, the campaign is authorized to take an additional $10 from the donor at the end of the month.

Barnette?s donation page is set up the same way and asks donors to help the campaign reach its quarterly deadline with a pre-checked box that authorizes the campaign to take $10 at the end of the month.

This tactic, though not illegal, has raised ethical questions in recent election cycles. 

Thousands of people complained when the Trump campaign charged them several times for what was meant as a one-time donation, according to the New York Times. Eventually, the campaign and Republican National Committee refunded more than $122 million, the New York Times reported.

Donation pages for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates do not automatically sign up donors for recurring donations. Five other announced GOP candidates do not use the practice, and some criticized their opponents for using the tactic.

?It?s disappointing but not surprising that Sean Parnell and Kathy Barnette are trying to trap donors into giving recurring donations when the motivation is a one-time contribution,? Sean Gale, a Republican U.S. Senate hopeful, told the Capital-Star. ?Both Parnell and Barnette have a history of raising money for losing congressional races.?

?Both are political opportunists who use campaigns to selfishly raise their own profiles in the hopes of selling more books and becoming conservative celebrities,? Gale added.

In May, the Federal Election Commission, which oversees federal election spending, unanimously suggested that Congress ban the use of pre-checked boxes. 

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced legislation that would do just that. The legislation, if it became law, would require consent from donors for recurring payments. Political committees and campaigns would also have to tell donors how to cancel their contributions.

Bill McSwain, a former Philadelphia-area federal prosecutor and Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful, was criticized last month for using the pre-checked box tactic, the Capital-Star previously reported.

A spokesperson for Freedom PA, McSwain?s political action committee, told the Capital-Star that it is in ?constant communication? with supporters. 

The spokesperson added that ?donors understand the urgency of the fight we?re in to ensure we do not continue to have our freedoms trampled on as [Gov.] Tom Wolf has done for the past seven years.?



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Marley Parish

The post An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/an-unchecked-box-could-result-in-unintentional-donations-for-two-u-s-senate-candidates/ ) [summary] =>
An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates

Stock photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images This story was corrected at 9 a.m on Saturday, 6/19/21, to correctly identify WinRed as a conservative fundraising platform. If campaign donors aren?t careful, they could be committing to future contributions without realizing it. Republicans Sean Parnell, of Pittsburgh, and Kathy Barnette, of Huntingdon Valley, both candidates vying for retiring […]

The post An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates

Stock photo by
Juanmonino/Getty Images

This story was corrected at 9 a.m on Saturday, 6/19/21, to correctly identify WinRed as a conservative fundraising platform.

If campaign donors aren?t careful, they could be committing to future contributions without realizing it.

Republicans Sean Parnell, of Pittsburgh, and Kathy Barnette, of Huntingdon Valley, both candidates vying for retiring U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey?s, R-Pa., seat, are the latest Pennsylvania politicians to take a page out of former President Donald Trump?s financing playbook ? one that automatically signs donors up for monthly donations.

?The U.S. Senate is evenly divided,? a message on Parnell?s donation page reads. ?Senate control depends on you ? and me.?

Under that message is a pre-checked box that automatically signs donors up for a recurring payment. Unless the donor unchecks it on their own, they could be committing to a monthly donation, which ranges from $5 to $5,800.

WinRed, a conservative fundraising platform, powers the sites. Gerrit Lansing launched the platform in 2019 to compete with ActBlue, the Democratic political action committee.

WinRed did not respond to a request for comment on the fundraising tactic.

?Trump knows to save our nation, we must win back the Senate,? a message on Parnell?s page reads. ?But we can?t do it [without] you. Commit to a second donation on the 30th to join Sean and Trump back in the fight to take back the Senate, protect our freedoms, and save America.?

If the box under that message isn?t unchecked, the campaign is authorized to take an additional $10 from the donor at the end of the month.

Barnette?s donation page is set up the same way and asks donors to help the campaign reach its quarterly deadline with a pre-checked box that authorizes the campaign to take $10 at the end of the month.

This tactic, though not illegal, has raised ethical questions in recent election cycles. 

Thousands of people complained when the Trump campaign charged them several times for what was meant as a one-time donation, according to the New York Times. Eventually, the campaign and Republican National Committee refunded more than $122 million, the New York Times reported.

Donation pages for Democratic U.S. Senate candidates do not automatically sign up donors for recurring donations. Five other announced GOP candidates do not use the practice, and some criticized their opponents for using the tactic.

?It?s disappointing but not surprising that Sean Parnell and Kathy Barnette are trying to trap donors into giving recurring donations when the motivation is a one-time contribution,? Sean Gale, a Republican U.S. Senate hopeful, told the Capital-Star. ?Both Parnell and Barnette have a history of raising money for losing congressional races.?

?Both are political opportunists who use campaigns to selfishly raise their own profiles in the hopes of selling more books and becoming conservative celebrities,? Gale added.

In May, the Federal Election Commission, which oversees federal election spending, unanimously suggested that Congress ban the use of pre-checked boxes. 

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., introduced legislation that would do just that. The legislation, if it became law, would require consent from donors for recurring payments. Political committees and campaigns would also have to tell donors how to cancel their contributions.

Bill McSwain, a former Philadelphia-area federal prosecutor and Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful, was criticized last month for using the pre-checked box tactic, the Capital-Star previously reported.

A spokesperson for Freedom PA, McSwain?s political action committee, told the Capital-Star that it is in ?constant communication? with supporters. 

The spokesperson added that ?donors understand the urgency of the fight we?re in to ensure we do not continue to have our freedoms trampled on as [Gov.] Tom Wolf has done for the past seven years.?



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Marley Parish

The post An unchecked box could result in unintentional donations for two U.S. Senate candidates first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624240852 ) [3] => Array ( [title] => ?A sad loss for Philadelphians?: LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/iGgFBjrxR48/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Mon, 21 Jun 2021 00:54:25 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4190 [description] =>
'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case

Kevin Lessard, a city spokesperson, said it?s premature to say whether policies will be revised. ?It?s too early to say,? Lessard said, in an email. ?We are still evaluating the decision and our next steps.? Thomas W. Ude Jr., legal and public policy director for Mazzoni Center, said the city should revise its policies. ?[The] […]

The post 'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case

Kevin Lessard, a city spokesperson, said it?s premature to say whether policies will be revised. ?It?s too early to say,? Lessard said, in an email. ?We are still evaluating the decision and our next steps.?

Thomas W. Ude Jr., legal and public policy director for Mazzoni Center, said the city should revise its policies.

?[The] Fulton decision is a sad loss for Philadelphians,? Ude said in an email. ?The ruling requires the City to pay Catholic Social Services even though the agency discriminates against LGBTQ couples. Every LGBTQ adult, coupled or not, carries scars from childhood bias. The foster care system tries to help traumatized youth ? a necessary and challenging responsibility. Philadelphia?s rule protects children against discriminatory bias and further trauma. But the ruling allows other government agencies to impose nondiscrimination requirements. And it offers Philadelphia a map to fix its problem. It?s not clear why Philadelphia offered an exemption in its contracts. As the Court notes, Philadelphia apparently never granted such an exemption ? to anyone. Nor should it. We urge the City to remove the exemption and ensure that City funds go to foster care agencies that serve all Philadelphians.?

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Philadelphia in foster parents case

Longtime activist David Fair agreed with the idea of changing the contract?s language, saying ?Back in the early 80s, the ?gay rights bill? was passed because of compromise language allowing the city to make exceptions to the provisions prohibiting discrimination against sexual minorities. I know, because I was there, and the provision got us a 13-4 win.

?Now the [court] has ruled unanimously that the City can?t deny the Archdiocese the right to discriminate as a result of that provision, because it can make exceptions,? Fair continued. ?So the solution seems to be simple. Today?s Council simply needs to remove the option for making exceptions, which no other anti-discrimination law allows anyway. In the meantime, we need the LGBT+ community to rise up and confront directly the Archdiocese to either change its discriminatory policy or get out of the foster care system altogether.?

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress, an LGBTQ advocacy group, analyzed the legal points of the ruling, noting that ?the U.S. Supreme Court held in a unanimous decision that non-discrimination policies must have neutral application and enforcement. Philadelphia?s standard foster care contract includes a clause that allows for exceptions from non-discrimination requirements regarding sexual orientation at the City?s discretion. This mechanism rendered the policy not generally applicable as it had the potential to be unevenly enforced.

?The court has also concluded that the Philadelphia?s Fair Practices Ordinance does not apply to Catholic Social Services since ? due to the specialized process prospective foster parents must go through in order to become certified ? certifications are not readily accessible to the general public.

?While prospective foster parents must rightfully complete a selective certification process, most Americans agree that taxpayer-funded services should not be allowed to turn people away solely because of their sexuality or marital status,? the analysis continued. ?This is especially true in the context of foster care. Prospective applicants who are otherwise fit to foster should not be sent away when so many children are stuck waiting for a nurturing home. Pennsylvania counties are especially in dire need of open and accepting foster parents ? as LGBTQ+ youth, who are already overrepresented in foster care, often face difficulty finding long-term placement, instead ending up in group homes, being shunted from placement to placement, or even housed in juvenile correctional facilities. More LGBTQ+ foster parents will only help meet that need. Our tax dollars should be dedicated to securing good homes for these kids, not discriminating against those who want to help.?

Preston Heldibridle, executive director of Pennsylvania Youth Congress, emphasized the need for statewide protections.

?Because Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast to lack non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, cities and towns across our commonwealth have had to take it upon themselves to adopt municipal non-discrimination policies,? Heldibridle noted. ?Over one-third of Pennsylvania?s population is protected by this patchwork of local ordinances in at least 69 municipalities. These policies must be comprehensive and carefully written to require neutral application and enforcement. Most pressingly, the General Assembly must update our statewide non-discrimination law to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We shouldn?t still be relying on patchwork protections that bring about unnecessary litigation and confusion.?

Heldibridle added: ?The Supreme Court ruling is a blow to children and families in the foster care system within the city of Philadelphia. But it was a ruling specifically based on the technicalities of Philadelphia?s policies. The Supreme Court does not recognize a general right to discriminate based on religious beliefs. Applied neutrally, non-discrimination policies are lawful, and above all, they are necessary. To ensure LGBTQ+ Americans have equal protections under the law, Congress must pass [the Equity Act], and for Pennsylvanians the General Assembly must take the same action. It is past time for LGBTQ+ Americans to have equal rights throughout our nation.?

Deja Lynn Alvarez, a local transgender advocate, and a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, denounced the ruling.

?We know it?s going to be a battle between those that believe in ACTUAL equality and equity and those that don?t,? Alvarez said in an email. ?Religion has been used as a weapon to oppress and hate by some since the beginning. That?s all this new ?religious freedom? is.?

Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, emphasized the narrowness of the ruling.

?The court based its ruling on its reading of the contract that existed between the city and CSS in 2018 (which expired in 2018). The holding is that because the court read that contract to allow for some exemptions from the nondiscrimination requirements, the city had to allow CSS an exemption from the nondiscrimination requirement,? Roper said.

?The court did not hold that CSS would have been entitled to an exemption from a universal nondiscrimination provision and affirmed that the city?s interest in enforcing nondiscrimination protections for same-sex couples is ?a weighty one,?? Roper continued. ?This ruling is expressly limited to this contract and does not restrict the ability of governments to protect LGBQ&T individuals from discrimination. So this decision does not change the balance in the greater battle between those who seek to protect LGBQ&T folks from discrimination and those who claim a religious right to engage in such discrimination. That battle will continue, in other cases.?

Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride, expressed mixed feelings.

?For the families in Philadelphia Family Pride, this case is first and foremost about kids,? Haynes said, in a statement. ?We work with the City of Philadelphia, private agencies that work with children in our foster care system and LGBTQ parents. We are relieved that this decision only applies to this specific contract ? and hopeful that Philadelphia will be able to address the constitutional concerns the Court identified. LGBTQ people are just as qualified to be foster parents as anyone else. There is no reason our families should be turned away from fostering children. In states across the country, many children spend years in a group home before being placed with a foster family, if ever.?

In a conference call, Haynes emphasized the inherent value and human dignity of LGBT foster parents and foster children. She also thanked all of the individuals and entities that worked hard on the case.

Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Perez called the ruling ?a profound one that rings loudly in Philadelphia and reverberates throughout the country. It brings light and relief for children in need of loving homes and for the heroic foster parents who open their hearts and doors to care for them.?

In a statement, Perez went on to say that: ?I have often said that we are a people of hope. It is my personal hope that today?s decision makes it abundantly clear that religious ministries cannot be forced to abandon their beliefs as the price for ministering to those in need. We can all live and work peacefully, side-by-side, to create a better and brighter future for all of our children.?

Randall Wenger, chief counsel for a conservative law center in Harrisburg, also praised the ruling.

?We are encouraged by this decision as it recognizes a core American value: We all benefit when we respect rather than punish diversity in a pluralistic society,? Wenger said, in an email. ?Gays and lesbians can foster children at the same time that religious liberty is accommodated. Everyone wins, especially the children.?



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Special to the Capital-Star

The post 'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/a-sad-loss-for-philadelphians-lgbtq-advocates-react-to-supreme-court-ruling-in-philly-foster-case/ ) [summary] =>
'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case

Kevin Lessard, a city spokesperson, said it?s premature to say whether policies will be revised. ?It?s too early to say,? Lessard said, in an email. ?We are still evaluating the decision and our next steps.? Thomas W. Ude Jr., legal and public policy director for Mazzoni Center, said the city should revise its policies. ?[The] […]

The post 'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case

Kevin Lessard, a city spokesperson, said it?s premature to say whether policies will be revised. ?It?s too early to say,? Lessard said, in an email. ?We are still evaluating the decision and our next steps.?

Thomas W. Ude Jr., legal and public policy director for Mazzoni Center, said the city should revise its policies.

?[The] Fulton decision is a sad loss for Philadelphians,? Ude said in an email. ?The ruling requires the City to pay Catholic Social Services even though the agency discriminates against LGBTQ couples. Every LGBTQ adult, coupled or not, carries scars from childhood bias. The foster care system tries to help traumatized youth ? a necessary and challenging responsibility. Philadelphia?s rule protects children against discriminatory bias and further trauma. But the ruling allows other government agencies to impose nondiscrimination requirements. And it offers Philadelphia a map to fix its problem. It?s not clear why Philadelphia offered an exemption in its contracts. As the Court notes, Philadelphia apparently never granted such an exemption ? to anyone. Nor should it. We urge the City to remove the exemption and ensure that City funds go to foster care agencies that serve all Philadelphians.?

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Philadelphia in foster parents case

Longtime activist David Fair agreed with the idea of changing the contract?s language, saying ?Back in the early 80s, the ?gay rights bill? was passed because of compromise language allowing the city to make exceptions to the provisions prohibiting discrimination against sexual minorities. I know, because I was there, and the provision got us a 13-4 win.

?Now the [court] has ruled unanimously that the City can?t deny the Archdiocese the right to discriminate as a result of that provision, because it can make exceptions,? Fair continued. ?So the solution seems to be simple. Today?s Council simply needs to remove the option for making exceptions, which no other anti-discrimination law allows anyway. In the meantime, we need the LGBT+ community to rise up and confront directly the Archdiocese to either change its discriminatory policy or get out of the foster care system altogether.?

The Pennsylvania Youth Congress, an LGBTQ advocacy group, analyzed the legal points of the ruling, noting that ?the U.S. Supreme Court held in a unanimous decision that non-discrimination policies must have neutral application and enforcement. Philadelphia?s standard foster care contract includes a clause that allows for exceptions from non-discrimination requirements regarding sexual orientation at the City?s discretion. This mechanism rendered the policy not generally applicable as it had the potential to be unevenly enforced.

?The court has also concluded that the Philadelphia?s Fair Practices Ordinance does not apply to Catholic Social Services since ? due to the specialized process prospective foster parents must go through in order to become certified ? certifications are not readily accessible to the general public.

?While prospective foster parents must rightfully complete a selective certification process, most Americans agree that taxpayer-funded services should not be allowed to turn people away solely because of their sexuality or marital status,? the analysis continued. ?This is especially true in the context of foster care. Prospective applicants who are otherwise fit to foster should not be sent away when so many children are stuck waiting for a nurturing home. Pennsylvania counties are especially in dire need of open and accepting foster parents ? as LGBTQ+ youth, who are already overrepresented in foster care, often face difficulty finding long-term placement, instead ending up in group homes, being shunted from placement to placement, or even housed in juvenile correctional facilities. More LGBTQ+ foster parents will only help meet that need. Our tax dollars should be dedicated to securing good homes for these kids, not discriminating against those who want to help.?

Preston Heldibridle, executive director of Pennsylvania Youth Congress, emphasized the need for statewide protections.

?Because Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast to lack non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people, cities and towns across our commonwealth have had to take it upon themselves to adopt municipal non-discrimination policies,? Heldibridle noted. ?Over one-third of Pennsylvania?s population is protected by this patchwork of local ordinances in at least 69 municipalities. These policies must be comprehensive and carefully written to require neutral application and enforcement. Most pressingly, the General Assembly must update our statewide non-discrimination law to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We shouldn?t still be relying on patchwork protections that bring about unnecessary litigation and confusion.?

Heldibridle added: ?The Supreme Court ruling is a blow to children and families in the foster care system within the city of Philadelphia. But it was a ruling specifically based on the technicalities of Philadelphia?s policies. The Supreme Court does not recognize a general right to discriminate based on religious beliefs. Applied neutrally, non-discrimination policies are lawful, and above all, they are necessary. To ensure LGBTQ+ Americans have equal protections under the law, Congress must pass [the Equity Act], and for Pennsylvanians the General Assembly must take the same action. It is past time for LGBTQ+ Americans to have equal rights throughout our nation.?

Deja Lynn Alvarez, a local transgender advocate, and a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, denounced the ruling.

?We know it?s going to be a battle between those that believe in ACTUAL equality and equity and those that don?t,? Alvarez said in an email. ?Religion has been used as a weapon to oppress and hate by some since the beginning. That?s all this new ?religious freedom? is.?

Mary Catherine Roper, deputy legal director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, emphasized the narrowness of the ruling.

?The court based its ruling on its reading of the contract that existed between the city and CSS in 2018 (which expired in 2018). The holding is that because the court read that contract to allow for some exemptions from the nondiscrimination requirements, the city had to allow CSS an exemption from the nondiscrimination requirement,? Roper said.

?The court did not hold that CSS would have been entitled to an exemption from a universal nondiscrimination provision and affirmed that the city?s interest in enforcing nondiscrimination protections for same-sex couples is ?a weighty one,?? Roper continued. ?This ruling is expressly limited to this contract and does not restrict the ability of governments to protect LGBQ&T individuals from discrimination. So this decision does not change the balance in the greater battle between those who seek to protect LGBQ&T folks from discrimination and those who claim a religious right to engage in such discrimination. That battle will continue, in other cases.?

Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride, expressed mixed feelings.

?For the families in Philadelphia Family Pride, this case is first and foremost about kids,? Haynes said, in a statement. ?We work with the City of Philadelphia, private agencies that work with children in our foster care system and LGBTQ parents. We are relieved that this decision only applies to this specific contract ? and hopeful that Philadelphia will be able to address the constitutional concerns the Court identified. LGBTQ people are just as qualified to be foster parents as anyone else. There is no reason our families should be turned away from fostering children. In states across the country, many children spend years in a group home before being placed with a foster family, if ever.?

In a conference call, Haynes emphasized the inherent value and human dignity of LGBT foster parents and foster children. She also thanked all of the individuals and entities that worked hard on the case.

Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson J. Perez called the ruling ?a profound one that rings loudly in Philadelphia and reverberates throughout the country. It brings light and relief for children in need of loving homes and for the heroic foster parents who open their hearts and doors to care for them.?

In a statement, Perez went on to say that: ?I have often said that we are a people of hope. It is my personal hope that today?s decision makes it abundantly clear that religious ministries cannot be forced to abandon their beliefs as the price for ministering to those in need. We can all live and work peacefully, side-by-side, to create a better and brighter future for all of our children.?

Randall Wenger, chief counsel for a conservative law center in Harrisburg, also praised the ruling.

?We are encouraged by this decision as it recognizes a core American value: We all benefit when we respect rather than punish diversity in a pluralistic society,? Wenger said, in an email. ?Gays and lesbians can foster children at the same time that religious liberty is accommodated. Everyone wins, especially the children.?



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Special to the Capital-Star

The post 'A sad loss for Philadelphians': LGBTQ advocates react to Supreme Court ruling in Philly foster case first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624236865 ) [4] => Array ( [title] => It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/Y2xT1V0SVCs/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:52:16 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4187 [description] =>
It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend

Happy Weekend, all. On Thursday, Juneteenth joined the list of federally-recognized holidays. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 ?Juneteenth National Freedom Day? in Pennsylvania. Reflecting on its adoption, Wolf said in a statement this week: ?I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past […]

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend

Happy Weekend, all.

On Thursday, Juneteenth joined the list of federally-recognized holidays. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 ?Juneteenth National Freedom Day? in Pennsylvania.

Reflecting on its adoption, Wolf said in a statement this week: ?I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past time for this important holiday to be recognized by the federal government, as well. Thank you to the lawmakers who worked so hard to pass legislation this week recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and to President Biden for signing it into law.?

Calling for Pennsylvanians to ?take a stand against injustice and build lasting change,? Wolf said in a statement, ?On Juneteenth, we celebrate the day when America first began to live up to the promise of freedom for all. This holiday is a time for both celebration and reflection. It is a time to honor African American history and to recommit ourselves to doing the hard work it will take to truly build a society that lives up to the American dream of equality, liberty and justice for all people.?

Here a few resources to Juneteenth celebrations happening across the commonwealth this weekend:

  • ?Promote equality, liberty and justice for all people?: Things to do for Juneteenth in central PA
  • In Pittsburgh
  • Juneteenth in Philadelphia
  • In Harrisburg and around central Pennsylvania

As always, your Top 5 Most-Read Stories of the week start below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-W.Va? How the Dem Senate hopeful is trying to turn progressive rage over Joe Manchin into votes | Monday Morning Coffee

It takes a little less than two hours to drive from Lt. Gov John Fetterman?s hometown of Braddock, Pa. to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin?s, W-Va., birthplace of Farmington, W.Va., a tiny coal mining community with a population of just 365 people. Which means you?d really have to stretch your imagination to think it was part of the Keystone State.

But from the way Fetterman was talking to supporters in an email blast last week, and in a subsequent op-Ed for CNN, you could be forgiven for thinking that Gov. Tom Wolf?s No. 2 was launching a very early primary challenge against the Mountain State senator instead of seeking the Democratic nomination for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey?s soon-to-be vacant seat right here in Pennsylvania.

?Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is wrong to choose to vote against the For the People Act, a bill that would increase election security and access to voting and reduce the influence of big money in politics,? Fetterman wrote in the June 9 op-Ed published on CNN?s website. ?To pretend that former President Donald Trump?s Republican Party will act in good faith to preserve democracy is naive.?

2. Imagine what would happen if the GOP treated the 1/6 riots like they treated Benghazi | John A. Tures

A decade ago, there were more than a half-dozen Congressional committees investigating the attack upon the U.S. Consular Office in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet chances are dimming for even a single Congressional investigation of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol itself on January 6, 2021. But Congress should not be barred from investigating an attempt to overturn the election results by force.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is right; we need a second vote, free from political pressure.

As of October of 2012, there were more than seven Congressional probes of the Benghazi attack, mostly led by Republicans.  These included (1) the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, (2) The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, (3) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, (4) The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, (5) The House Committee on the Judiciary, (6) The House Committee on Armed Services, and (7) The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. There?s also (8) The House Select Committee on Benghazi. This list does not account for non-Congressional investigations of the terror attack.

The Poynter Institute?s Politfact found this of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?s view of the findings: ?As for her comment that there was no overt wrongdoing, just room for improvement, that?s a rosy assessment. But it is also largely accurate.?

3.  What?s holding up Harrisburg lawmakers from making to-go cocktails permanent?

Pennsylvania lawmakers? vote to cut off Gov. Tom Wolf?s COVID-19 declaration this week claimed an unexpected casualty: to-go cocktails.

Since May 2020, state law has temporarily allowed Pennsylvanians to get take out Bloody Marys with their Sunday brunch or a Moscow Mule with their power lunch.

But that allowance was temporary and tied to the existence of the COVID-19 state of emergency, Melissa Bova, chief lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, told the Capital-Star.

Ending the emergency, then, also ended this small pandemic perk, to the detriment of restaurants? bottom line.

A bill to make these drinks a permanent part of take-out nights passed the state House with only token opposition, and appeared on track to fly through the Senate to Wolf?s desk.

But the bill?s unexpected detour back into the committee of state Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, shows the perilous path from bill to law in Harrisburg, and how a simple idea can be knocked off track.

4. Philly Sen. Hughes says he?s ?deathly afraid? GOP will squander $10B in surplus, federal stimulus

Philadelphia?s top Democratic state lawmakers are raising the alarm over uncertainties surrounding Republicans? plans to spend $10 billion in surplus revenue and federal coronavirus pandemic stimulus funding.

With a state budget due by the end of the month, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says he is ?deathly afraid? that the GOP-controlled legislature will squander the opportunity to use the funding to address long-term, systemic issues, including many that disproportionately affect African Americans.

Hughes and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton say Republicans have kept Democrats in the dark about their spending plan.

?The silence, I think, from our Republican colleagues is deafening. ? We don?t know what they?re going to come out with,? Hughes said during a recent meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune?s editorial board.

5. Pa. General Assembly votes to terminate Wolf?s COVID-19 emergency declaration

For the first time in 15 months, Pennsylvania is no longer operating under a COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Using its newly expanded emergency powers, the GOP-controlled Legislature voted to end Gov. Tom Wolf?s pandemic disaster declaration this week. With a 30-20 Senate vote and 121-81 House vote, Wolf has no power to veto the resolution.

?For all practical purposes, the state of emergency in our commonwealth is over,? Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said on the floor. ?Our businesses are open 100 percent. We have had less than 500 cases a day on the average over the past two weeks.?

All statewide COVID-19 restrictions, except the mask mandate, were lifted before Thursday?s vote. But the final vote brings to the end a long, running conflict between Pennsylvania?s elected chief executive and the elected legislature over how to address the pandemic.

Wolf will not be able to issue another order if COVID-19 cases were to rise again either, according to two constitutional amendments voter approved last month that curtailed Wolf and all future governors? emergency powers.

And that?s the week. Enjoy the weekend. See you all back here next weekend.

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend appeared first on .



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Cassie Miller

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/its-juneteenth-in-pa-heres-how-and-where-to-mark-this-historic-day-near-you-five-for-the-weekend/ ) [summary] =>
It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend

Happy Weekend, all. On Thursday, Juneteenth joined the list of federally-recognized holidays. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 ?Juneteenth National Freedom Day? in Pennsylvania. Reflecting on its adoption, Wolf said in a statement this week: ?I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past […]

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend

Happy Weekend, all.

On Thursday, Juneteenth joined the list of federally-recognized holidays. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 ?Juneteenth National Freedom Day? in Pennsylvania.

Reflecting on its adoption, Wolf said in a statement this week: ?I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past time for this important holiday to be recognized by the federal government, as well. Thank you to the lawmakers who worked so hard to pass legislation this week recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and to President Biden for signing it into law.?

Calling for Pennsylvanians to ?take a stand against injustice and build lasting change,? Wolf said in a statement, ?On Juneteenth, we celebrate the day when America first began to live up to the promise of freedom for all. This holiday is a time for both celebration and reflection. It is a time to honor African American history and to recommit ourselves to doing the hard work it will take to truly build a society that lives up to the American dream of equality, liberty and justice for all people.?

Here a few resources to Juneteenth celebrations happening across the commonwealth this weekend:

  • ?Promote equality, liberty and justice for all people?: Things to do for Juneteenth in central PA
  • In Pittsburgh
  • Juneteenth in Philadelphia
  • In Harrisburg and around central Pennsylvania

As always, your Top 5 Most-Read Stories of the week start below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-W.Va? How the Dem Senate hopeful is trying to turn progressive rage over Joe Manchin into votes | Monday Morning Coffee

It takes a little less than two hours to drive from Lt. Gov John Fetterman?s hometown of Braddock, Pa. to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin?s, W-Va., birthplace of Farmington, W.Va., a tiny coal mining community with a population of just 365 people. Which means you?d really have to stretch your imagination to think it was part of the Keystone State.

But from the way Fetterman was talking to supporters in an email blast last week, and in a subsequent op-Ed for CNN, you could be forgiven for thinking that Gov. Tom Wolf?s No. 2 was launching a very early primary challenge against the Mountain State senator instead of seeking the Democratic nomination for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey?s soon-to-be vacant seat right here in Pennsylvania.

?Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is wrong to choose to vote against the For the People Act, a bill that would increase election security and access to voting and reduce the influence of big money in politics,? Fetterman wrote in the June 9 op-Ed published on CNN?s website. ?To pretend that former President Donald Trump?s Republican Party will act in good faith to preserve democracy is naive.?

2. Imagine what would happen if the GOP treated the 1/6 riots like they treated Benghazi | John A. Tures

A decade ago, there were more than a half-dozen Congressional committees investigating the attack upon the U.S. Consular Office in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet chances are dimming for even a single Congressional investigation of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol itself on January 6, 2021. But Congress should not be barred from investigating an attempt to overturn the election results by force.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is right; we need a second vote, free from political pressure.

As of October of 2012, there were more than seven Congressional probes of the Benghazi attack, mostly led by Republicans.  These included (1) the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, (2) The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, (3) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, (4) The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, (5) The House Committee on the Judiciary, (6) The House Committee on Armed Services, and (7) The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. There?s also (8) The House Select Committee on Benghazi. This list does not account for non-Congressional investigations of the terror attack.

The Poynter Institute?s Politfact found this of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?s view of the findings: ?As for her comment that there was no overt wrongdoing, just room for improvement, that?s a rosy assessment. But it is also largely accurate.?

3.  What?s holding up Harrisburg lawmakers from making to-go cocktails permanent?

Pennsylvania lawmakers? vote to cut off Gov. Tom Wolf?s COVID-19 declaration this week claimed an unexpected casualty: to-go cocktails.

Since May 2020, state law has temporarily allowed Pennsylvanians to get take out Bloody Marys with their Sunday brunch or a Moscow Mule with their power lunch.

But that allowance was temporary and tied to the existence of the COVID-19 state of emergency, Melissa Bova, chief lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, told the Capital-Star.

Ending the emergency, then, also ended this small pandemic perk, to the detriment of restaurants? bottom line.

A bill to make these drinks a permanent part of take-out nights passed the state House with only token opposition, and appeared on track to fly through the Senate to Wolf?s desk.

But the bill?s unexpected detour back into the committee of state Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, shows the perilous path from bill to law in Harrisburg, and how a simple idea can be knocked off track.

4. Philly Sen. Hughes says he?s ?deathly afraid? GOP will squander $10B in surplus, federal stimulus

Philadelphia?s top Democratic state lawmakers are raising the alarm over uncertainties surrounding Republicans? plans to spend $10 billion in surplus revenue and federal coronavirus pandemic stimulus funding.

With a state budget due by the end of the month, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says he is ?deathly afraid? that the GOP-controlled legislature will squander the opportunity to use the funding to address long-term, systemic issues, including many that disproportionately affect African Americans.

Hughes and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton say Republicans have kept Democrats in the dark about their spending plan.

?The silence, I think, from our Republican colleagues is deafening. ? We don?t know what they?re going to come out with,? Hughes said during a recent meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune?s editorial board.

5. Pa. General Assembly votes to terminate Wolf?s COVID-19 emergency declaration

For the first time in 15 months, Pennsylvania is no longer operating under a COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Using its newly expanded emergency powers, the GOP-controlled Legislature voted to end Gov. Tom Wolf?s pandemic disaster declaration this week. With a 30-20 Senate vote and 121-81 House vote, Wolf has no power to veto the resolution.

?For all practical purposes, the state of emergency in our commonwealth is over,? Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said on the floor. ?Our businesses are open 100 percent. We have had less than 500 cases a day on the average over the past two weeks.?

All statewide COVID-19 restrictions, except the mask mandate, were lifted before Thursday?s vote. But the final vote brings to the end a long, running conflict between Pennsylvania?s elected chief executive and the elected legislature over how to address the pandemic.

Wolf will not be able to issue another order if COVID-19 cases were to rise again either, according to two constitutional amendments voter approved last month that curtailed Wolf and all future governors? emergency powers.

And that?s the week. Enjoy the weekend. See you all back here next weekend.

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend appeared first on .



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Cassie Miller

The post It?s Juneteenth in Pa. Here?s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624233136 ) [5] => Array ( [title] => Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/AVWxT27GUMA/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:52:03 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4184 [description] =>
Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion

(c) 3desc – Stock.Adobe.com By Sandra L. Strauss When the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in 1971, I could hardly wait to register and vote. I was among the first classes of 18-year-olds eligible, and I was NOT going to miss it for anything. I wanted to have a say in who could […]

The post Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion

(c) 3desc – Stock.Adobe.com

By Sandra L. Strauss

When the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in 1971, I could hardly wait to register and vote. I was among the first classes of 18-year-olds eligible, and I was NOT going to miss it for anything. I wanted to have a say in who could best represent what I stood for as a young adult.

Nearly 50 years later, I still believe in the importance of voting, and wouldn?t dream of missing an election. However, I know the right I have taken for granted as an educated, reasonably secure white woman is not equally accessible or easily attainable for many of my neighbors, despite Constitutional amendments and laws that are supposed to protect that right.

In the faith communities I represent, we believe that all persons have the sacred right to have a voice in government at all levels. That includes the right to vote.

And that access should never be limited because of situational factors such as economic disadvantages or distance, or demographic characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation. We also believe that voting is a sacred duty, and there should be no barriers that preclude exercising this responsibility.

We viewed Act 77 of 2019, the bipartisan voting reform bill passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, as a positive step.

It gave more Pennsylvanians easier access to voting. Voting by mail was a blessing for those who have found it difficult to get to the polls on election day?whether because of physical disability, lack of access to transportation, work schedules, obligations to children at home, or any other factor that would serve as an obstacle to voting in person.

Pa. election audit a ?very real possibility,? top Pa. Senate Republican says after meeting activists

And it came just in time for the arrival of COVID-19. Pennsylvanians could still exercise their right to vote without risking exposure to a deadly virus.

With the introduction of vote-by-mail and despite a steep learning curve, the general election of 2020 proved to be the most secure election in recent history.

Virtually no irregularities surfaced anywhere, and courts found challenges to election integrity to be without merit. Recounts and audits in numerous places provided further proof that elections were clean. Election officials everywhere?regardless of political affiliation?deserve our thanks and admiration for their work in a particularly challenging year.

Yet here we are, less than two years after the enactment of Act 77, and some members of our General Assembly are seeking solutions to a problem that doesn?t exist.

New F&M poll: Wolf?s approval plummets; Pa. residents back major voting changes

A Republican-authored reform bill, HB1300, is a 150-page bill that includes numerous changes that would adversely affect voting in Pennsylvania. A few proposals are particularly troubling.

The new Republican bill rolls back the positive changes of Act 77, returning the voter registration deadline to 30 days prior to an election, and moving the deadline for vote-by-mail applications from 7 to 15 days. In fact, we know that tens of thousands of new voters registered during the extended deadline period in October 2020.

But there?s more. Voter ID requirements for all elections have reappeared, and two forms of ID would be required to vote by mail. ID is always required for first time voters but having to maintain designated IDs is not easy for everyone and is cost prohibitive for many.

Use of dropboxes would be severely limited to only specified hours where two partisan inspectors would need to verify identification of the person dropping off a ballot and examine the ballot envelope.

Voters would no longer be able to go to a county election or satellite office to apply for and receive a mail-in ballot, vote immediately and leave it with officials.

Also, by designating these locations as polling places they would be required to permit the presence of observers. Signature verification for mail-in ballots would be required, but no provision for proper training to ensure that valid ballots are counted, or voters are provided opportunities to validate their signature.

Finally, it creates a Bureau of Election Audits in the office of the Auditor General, placing an audit function in the hands of a partisan elected official with no experience running elections.

Yet there are opportunities for positive changes. For example, county election officials have raised valid concerns that should be addressed?such as the pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots which allows them to be opened, verified, and prepared for counting when election day arrives.

These are changes that we can support.

Earlier I alluded to other sacred duties we hold beyond voting. We recognize that faithful citizen engagement in government includes seeking transparency and integrity within the halls of power in addition to economic and social justice. However, voting is critical to accomplishing these ends. Without changing the dynamics of power, achieving justice will be difficult if not impossible.

The Republican reform bill will be voted on in the House next week. It is incumbent upon all of us?not just people of faith?to inform our elected officials that access to voting for EVERY eligible citizen must not only be protected but expanded.

The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss is the Director of Advocacy & Ecumenical Outreach for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. For more information regarding the Council, please CLICK HERE. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The post Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/pa-lawmakers-must-protect-and-expand-our-sacred-right-to-vote-opinion/ ) [summary] =>
Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion

(c) 3desc – Stock.Adobe.com By Sandra L. Strauss When the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in 1971, I could hardly wait to register and vote. I was among the first classes of 18-year-olds eligible, and I was NOT going to miss it for anything. I wanted to have a say in who could […]

The post Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion

(c) 3desc – Stock.Adobe.com

By Sandra L. Strauss

When the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote in 1971, I could hardly wait to register and vote. I was among the first classes of 18-year-olds eligible, and I was NOT going to miss it for anything. I wanted to have a say in who could best represent what I stood for as a young adult.

Nearly 50 years later, I still believe in the importance of voting, and wouldn?t dream of missing an election. However, I know the right I have taken for granted as an educated, reasonably secure white woman is not equally accessible or easily attainable for many of my neighbors, despite Constitutional amendments and laws that are supposed to protect that right.

In the faith communities I represent, we believe that all persons have the sacred right to have a voice in government at all levels. That includes the right to vote.

And that access should never be limited because of situational factors such as economic disadvantages or distance, or demographic characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation. We also believe that voting is a sacred duty, and there should be no barriers that preclude exercising this responsibility.

We viewed Act 77 of 2019, the bipartisan voting reform bill passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, as a positive step.

It gave more Pennsylvanians easier access to voting. Voting by mail was a blessing for those who have found it difficult to get to the polls on election day?whether because of physical disability, lack of access to transportation, work schedules, obligations to children at home, or any other factor that would serve as an obstacle to voting in person.

Pa. election audit a ?very real possibility,? top Pa. Senate Republican says after meeting activists

And it came just in time for the arrival of COVID-19. Pennsylvanians could still exercise their right to vote without risking exposure to a deadly virus.

With the introduction of vote-by-mail and despite a steep learning curve, the general election of 2020 proved to be the most secure election in recent history.

Virtually no irregularities surfaced anywhere, and courts found challenges to election integrity to be without merit. Recounts and audits in numerous places provided further proof that elections were clean. Election officials everywhere?regardless of political affiliation?deserve our thanks and admiration for their work in a particularly challenging year.

Yet here we are, less than two years after the enactment of Act 77, and some members of our General Assembly are seeking solutions to a problem that doesn?t exist.

New F&M poll: Wolf?s approval plummets; Pa. residents back major voting changes

A Republican-authored reform bill, HB1300, is a 150-page bill that includes numerous changes that would adversely affect voting in Pennsylvania. A few proposals are particularly troubling.

The new Republican bill rolls back the positive changes of Act 77, returning the voter registration deadline to 30 days prior to an election, and moving the deadline for vote-by-mail applications from 7 to 15 days. In fact, we know that tens of thousands of new voters registered during the extended deadline period in October 2020.

But there?s more. Voter ID requirements for all elections have reappeared, and two forms of ID would be required to vote by mail. ID is always required for first time voters but having to maintain designated IDs is not easy for everyone and is cost prohibitive for many.

Use of dropboxes would be severely limited to only specified hours where two partisan inspectors would need to verify identification of the person dropping off a ballot and examine the ballot envelope.

Voters would no longer be able to go to a county election or satellite office to apply for and receive a mail-in ballot, vote immediately and leave it with officials.

Also, by designating these locations as polling places they would be required to permit the presence of observers. Signature verification for mail-in ballots would be required, but no provision for proper training to ensure that valid ballots are counted, or voters are provided opportunities to validate their signature.

Finally, it creates a Bureau of Election Audits in the office of the Auditor General, placing an audit function in the hands of a partisan elected official with no experience running elections.

Yet there are opportunities for positive changes. For example, county election officials have raised valid concerns that should be addressed?such as the pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots which allows them to be opened, verified, and prepared for counting when election day arrives.

These are changes that we can support.

Earlier I alluded to other sacred duties we hold beyond voting. We recognize that faithful citizen engagement in government includes seeking transparency and integrity within the halls of power in addition to economic and social justice. However, voting is critical to accomplishing these ends. Without changing the dynamics of power, achieving justice will be difficult if not impossible.

The Republican reform bill will be voted on in the House next week. It is incumbent upon all of us?not just people of faith?to inform our elected officials that access to voting for EVERY eligible citizen must not only be protected but expanded.

The Rev. Sandra L. Strauss is the Director of Advocacy & Ecumenical Outreach for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches. For more information regarding the Council, please CLICK HERE. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The post Pa. lawmakers must protect and expand our sacred right to vote | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624233123 ) [6] => Array ( [title] => Charter schools are public schools ? they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/USNmyHeePpw/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:51:53 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4181 [description] =>
Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion

Image via WikiMedia Commons) By Noe Ortega Every Pennsylvania student deserves a good education, and every student in Pennsylvania deserves an education that works best for them. While Pennsylvania has some great charter schools, other charter schools are not providing an education that prepares students for success in life. Some companies that manage charter schools […]

The post Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion

Image via WikiMedia Commons)

By Noe Ortega

Every Pennsylvania student deserves a good education, and every student in Pennsylvania deserves an education that works best for them.

While Pennsylvania has some great charter schools, other charter schools are not providing an education that prepares students for success in life. Some companies that manage charter schools put taxpayer funded profits ahead of students and their families. These schools are costing taxpayers exorbitant amounts of money while providing a poor education and leaving our students behind

Charter schools are public schools. Our tax dollars fund these schools. And we must hold charter schools accountable to taxpayers and to the same standards as all other public schools.

In 2021, taxpayers will spend almost $3 billion for charter schools. Our local school districts are required by law to pay every charter school serving students in their area. That means that local property taxpayers ultimately foot the bill when costs are unreasonable.

Only about 9 percent of students are in a charter school, but within the next year, $1 in every $5 paid in local property taxes will go to cover charter school costs.

That?s billions of your school tax dollars that school boards and the public do not control or even know how charter schools spend. And as charter school costs go up, it drains funding from regular public-school classrooms, forces cuts to educational programs and causes tax hikes.

Pa. lawmakers continue to debate over ?meaningful? charter reform

Worse still, some charter schools do not provide a quality education. Charter schools make up about 6 percent of public schools in Pennsylvania, but account for about 25% of the lowest performing schools. Test scores for cyber school student are among the lowest in the state and fewer than two-thirds of their students graduate, well below the state average.

In 2019, a Stanford University report on charter school performance found widespread problems and called for comprehensive reforms.  In fact, Pennsylvania?s charter school law is regarded as among the worst in the nation.

Our broken charter school law is unfair to every student, parent and taxpayer, and the problem has only gotten worse over the past year. The pandemic has caused record enrollment increases at charter schools, and those students deserve a high-quality education. We must act.

The Wolf administration and bipartisan legislators have a commonsense plan that benefits everyone. It protects taxpayers by reining in uncontrolled charter school costs, protects students by holding low performing charter schools accountable, and protects the public by increasing transparency of for-profit management companies

The plan aligns taxpayer spending on charter schools with the actual cost to educate students, ending years of the public overpaying charter schools and saving school districts nearly $400 million.

This reasonable and fair solution is accomplished with two changes. First, the state would pay for special education at charter schools based on the real cost, as we already do for all other public schools. Special education should not be a profit maker for charter schools.

This improvement saves an estimated $185 million a year and helps school districts, as well as some charter schools that are underfunded for special education.

Second, the plan saves $210 million by creating a single statewide tuition rate for cyber schools. It ends huge differences between cyber-school payments when the cost of an online education is the same regardless of where the student lives.

The plan also protects students by creating performance standards for charter schools and limiting enrollment at low-performing schools until their educational quality improves.

Additionally, it will make sure that schools are meeting our quality standards and spending taxpayer dollars appropriately and requires ethical and financial standards to keep charter school management companies accountable to taxpayers.

The companies that make huge profits from charter schools hate these commonsense reforms. They want to keep lining their pockets with your tax dollars and to continue operating in the shadows. Every student, parent, and taxpayer deserves better.

Real choice means high quality learning. This plan preserves school choice and rewards high quality charter schools, protects school districts and taxpayers, and most importantly, ensures students are getting the education they need for successful lives in Pennsylvania.

If you agree that charter schools should be accountable to provide a high-quality education at a reasonable cost, I encourage you to contact your representatives in the General Assembly and ask them to support legislation to fix our broken charter school law.

Pennsylvania?s students deserve more from our charter school system ? and they can?t afford to wait.

Noe Ortega is Pennsylvania?s acting secretary of the Department of Education. He writes from Harrisburg. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The post Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/charter-schools-are-public-schools-they-have-to-be-held-accountable-to-the-taxpayers-opinion/ ) [summary] =>
Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion

Image via WikiMedia Commons) By Noe Ortega Every Pennsylvania student deserves a good education, and every student in Pennsylvania deserves an education that works best for them. While Pennsylvania has some great charter schools, other charter schools are not providing an education that prepares students for success in life. Some companies that manage charter schools […]

The post Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion

Image via WikiMedia Commons)

By Noe Ortega

Every Pennsylvania student deserves a good education, and every student in Pennsylvania deserves an education that works best for them.

While Pennsylvania has some great charter schools, other charter schools are not providing an education that prepares students for success in life. Some companies that manage charter schools put taxpayer funded profits ahead of students and their families. These schools are costing taxpayers exorbitant amounts of money while providing a poor education and leaving our students behind

Charter schools are public schools. Our tax dollars fund these schools. And we must hold charter schools accountable to taxpayers and to the same standards as all other public schools.

In 2021, taxpayers will spend almost $3 billion for charter schools. Our local school districts are required by law to pay every charter school serving students in their area. That means that local property taxpayers ultimately foot the bill when costs are unreasonable.

Only about 9 percent of students are in a charter school, but within the next year, $1 in every $5 paid in local property taxes will go to cover charter school costs.

That?s billions of your school tax dollars that school boards and the public do not control or even know how charter schools spend. And as charter school costs go up, it drains funding from regular public-school classrooms, forces cuts to educational programs and causes tax hikes.

Pa. lawmakers continue to debate over ?meaningful? charter reform

Worse still, some charter schools do not provide a quality education. Charter schools make up about 6 percent of public schools in Pennsylvania, but account for about 25% of the lowest performing schools. Test scores for cyber school student are among the lowest in the state and fewer than two-thirds of their students graduate, well below the state average.

In 2019, a Stanford University report on charter school performance found widespread problems and called for comprehensive reforms.  In fact, Pennsylvania?s charter school law is regarded as among the worst in the nation.

Our broken charter school law is unfair to every student, parent and taxpayer, and the problem has only gotten worse over the past year. The pandemic has caused record enrollment increases at charter schools, and those students deserve a high-quality education. We must act.

The Wolf administration and bipartisan legislators have a commonsense plan that benefits everyone. It protects taxpayers by reining in uncontrolled charter school costs, protects students by holding low performing charter schools accountable, and protects the public by increasing transparency of for-profit management companies

The plan aligns taxpayer spending on charter schools with the actual cost to educate students, ending years of the public overpaying charter schools and saving school districts nearly $400 million.

This reasonable and fair solution is accomplished with two changes. First, the state would pay for special education at charter schools based on the real cost, as we already do for all other public schools. Special education should not be a profit maker for charter schools.

This improvement saves an estimated $185 million a year and helps school districts, as well as some charter schools that are underfunded for special education.

Second, the plan saves $210 million by creating a single statewide tuition rate for cyber schools. It ends huge differences between cyber-school payments when the cost of an online education is the same regardless of where the student lives.

The plan also protects students by creating performance standards for charter schools and limiting enrollment at low-performing schools until their educational quality improves.

Additionally, it will make sure that schools are meeting our quality standards and spending taxpayer dollars appropriately and requires ethical and financial standards to keep charter school management companies accountable to taxpayers.

The companies that make huge profits from charter schools hate these commonsense reforms. They want to keep lining their pockets with your tax dollars and to continue operating in the shadows. Every student, parent, and taxpayer deserves better.

Real choice means high quality learning. This plan preserves school choice and rewards high quality charter schools, protects school districts and taxpayers, and most importantly, ensures students are getting the education they need for successful lives in Pennsylvania.

If you agree that charter schools should be accountable to provide a high-quality education at a reasonable cost, I encourage you to contact your representatives in the General Assembly and ask them to support legislation to fix our broken charter school law.

Pennsylvania?s students deserve more from our charter school system ? and they can?t afford to wait.

Noe Ortega is Pennsylvania?s acting secretary of the Department of Education. He writes from Harrisburg. 



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

The post Charter schools are public schools - they have to be held accountable to the taxpayers | Opinion first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624233113 ) [7] => Array ( [title] => Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/VAXaOKeFGXM/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:51:41 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4178 [description] =>
Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans

So could the rusty patched bumblebee, a black-headed pollinator that at one time ranged from Georgia to Maine and across the Midwest. The Biden administration is rewriting how it protects endangered species?making significant shifts in regulations that could affect how habitat is kept safe for these and other imperiled birds, fish, insects, mammals and plants across the […]

The post Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans

So could the rusty patched bumblebee, a black-headed pollinator that at one time ranged from Georgia to Maine and across the Midwest.

The Biden administration is rewriting how it protects endangered species?making significant shifts in regulations that could affect how habitat is kept safe for these and other imperiled birds, fish, insects, mammals and plants across the United States.

Biden administration officials announced this month that they would revisit five key regulations in the Endangered Species Act. In doing so, they will overturn changes the Trump administration had made to narrow the scope of the law and make it easier to approve development.

The revamped regulations could give stronger protection to some 2,700 species protected under the act. There are dozens of candidates in some states?72 in Arizona, 24 in Louisiana, 134 in Florida, 26 in Michigan, 24 in Maryland.

Among those that could benefit are birds like the lesser prairie-chicken, which has declined 97 percent in the past century, largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation, some of which came from oil and gas development.

The Fish and Wildlife Service last month proposed listing it as threatened in Colorado and Kansas and endangered in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Then there?s the rusty patched bumblebee. It received endangered status in 2017, due to habitat loss, climate change and threat from pesticides.

But the government did not protect any critical habitat for the bee, a decision environmentalists sued to try to reverse.

Years of battles

The Biden administration?s regulatory reversals are the latest in years of tug-of-war between Democratic and Republican administrations over how to implement the Endangered Species Act, passed by Congress in 1973.

Environmentalists hail the landmark law as one of their most powerful tools and credit it for rescuing the American crocodile, gray wolf and bald eagle.  Republicans have criticized it for becoming mired in lawsuits and land restrictions, while relatively few species graduate off the list.

Dozens of Pa. bird species are under threat from climate change, National Audubon Society warns in new report

Over the years, members of Congress have made several failed attempts to rewrite the act.

However, the Trump team was able to make significant changes to how it implemented the act through regulations that required no approval from Congress.

?The Trump administration changes significantly weakened the act, way beyond what was done in the past. They really moved away from Congress? original intent of the law to protect any and all imperiled wildlife, animals or plants,? said Jacob Malcolm, director of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit that aims to find creative solutions to save species through research and policy.

Malcolm, a former Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, applauded the Biden team?s decision to reverse those moves and said it could potentially put species protection back on track.

The Trump administration sought to ?ease the regulatory burden? of the Endangered Species Act. Its changes narrowed habitat protections, reducing both the timeline and area that could be considered for critical habitat.

They also got rid of some automatic protections for ?threatened? species, the classification one step below ?endangered.?

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, endangered means a species is in danger of extinction through all or a significant part of its range, while threatened means a species is likely to become endangered sometime in the foreseeable future.

The Biden administration said it would reinstate a regulation that gives any threatened species, like the lesser prairie-chicken, default protection unless the agency writes a specific plan for the species.

The Biden team also plans to reverse Trump-era rules that allow regulators to consider economic assessments when deciding whether to protect habitat?like calculating potential lost revenue. Previously, the law required regulators to make the decision solely based on science.

For some industries, the Trump administration?s rewrite was a welcome change.

For instance, the National Association of Home Builders says some Trump rules improved timelines on consultations, which can take 18 months or longer and slow down their projects.

?Returning to an inefficient ESA permitting process will not only raise the cost of housing, but will also delay countless other infrastructure projects that require either a federal permit or use federal funds,? said Michael Mittelholzer, NAHB?s assistant vice president of environmental policy.

Many Western Republicans also favored the Trump rules. Idaho Governor Brad Little said the Biden team?s reversal is a ?major disappointment.?

?It only serves to reinstate unnecessary regulatory burdens on the states and local communities that are most critical to the ESA?s success,? Little said in a statement.

White House directive

The turnaround on endangered species decision followed a directive from the White House for all federal agencies to reconsider Trump-era rules that run counter to Biden?s objectives like addressing climate change.

Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams said in a statement that her agency would work with partners to make sure the regulations recover wildlife and help ?meet 21st century challenges? like climate change.

Williams said listing decisions would be made ?without reference to possible economic or other impacts.? She also promised to throw out regulations that limited the scope of habitat protections and reinstate protections for plants and animals listed as ?threatened species.?

The acting administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversees protections for the 165 endangered and threatened marine species, also promised to revisit the agency?s regulations.

A push to do more

While environmental groups applauded the changes, some say that the Biden administration needs to go farther to protect plants and animals from climate change and other threats.

?I am really glad they are going to rescind and revisit these disastrous rules, but they?ve got their work cut out for them with dozens of other decisions that really leave imperiled species at risk of extinction,? said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit that files lawsuits and scientific petitions to try to compel the government to protect species.

For instance, his group recently threatened to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect 21 different species that the Trump administration had decided not to list. Greenwald says the agency drastically underestimated the threat climate change poses to the species.

But the agency said in a letter last month that the species had been properly evaluated and did not merit protection.

The list of species includes Florida?s Cedar Key Mole Skink, a small lizard that makes its home in the beach wrack that washes up during high tide. The group says the skink is threatened by sea-level rise, but the Trump administration only looked 30 years in the future to make its decision not to protect the lizard.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Allison Winter

The post Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/endangered-species-to-get-a-reprieve-under-biden-administration-plans/ ) [summary] =>
Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans

So could the rusty patched bumblebee, a black-headed pollinator that at one time ranged from Georgia to Maine and across the Midwest. The Biden administration is rewriting how it protects endangered species?making significant shifts in regulations that could affect how habitat is kept safe for these and other imperiled birds, fish, insects, mammals and plants across the […]

The post Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans

So could the rusty patched bumblebee, a black-headed pollinator that at one time ranged from Georgia to Maine and across the Midwest.

The Biden administration is rewriting how it protects endangered species?making significant shifts in regulations that could affect how habitat is kept safe for these and other imperiled birds, fish, insects, mammals and plants across the United States.

Biden administration officials announced this month that they would revisit five key regulations in the Endangered Species Act. In doing so, they will overturn changes the Trump administration had made to narrow the scope of the law and make it easier to approve development.

The revamped regulations could give stronger protection to some 2,700 species protected under the act. There are dozens of candidates in some states?72 in Arizona, 24 in Louisiana, 134 in Florida, 26 in Michigan, 24 in Maryland.

Among those that could benefit are birds like the lesser prairie-chicken, which has declined 97 percent in the past century, largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation, some of which came from oil and gas development.

The Fish and Wildlife Service last month proposed listing it as threatened in Colorado and Kansas and endangered in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Then there?s the rusty patched bumblebee. It received endangered status in 2017, due to habitat loss, climate change and threat from pesticides.

But the government did not protect any critical habitat for the bee, a decision environmentalists sued to try to reverse.

Years of battles

The Biden administration?s regulatory reversals are the latest in years of tug-of-war between Democratic and Republican administrations over how to implement the Endangered Species Act, passed by Congress in 1973.

Environmentalists hail the landmark law as one of their most powerful tools and credit it for rescuing the American crocodile, gray wolf and bald eagle.  Republicans have criticized it for becoming mired in lawsuits and land restrictions, while relatively few species graduate off the list.

Dozens of Pa. bird species are under threat from climate change, National Audubon Society warns in new report

Over the years, members of Congress have made several failed attempts to rewrite the act.

However, the Trump team was able to make significant changes to how it implemented the act through regulations that required no approval from Congress.

?The Trump administration changes significantly weakened the act, way beyond what was done in the past. They really moved away from Congress? original intent of the law to protect any and all imperiled wildlife, animals or plants,? said Jacob Malcolm, director of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit that aims to find creative solutions to save species through research and policy.

Malcolm, a former Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, applauded the Biden team?s decision to reverse those moves and said it could potentially put species protection back on track.

The Trump administration sought to ?ease the regulatory burden? of the Endangered Species Act. Its changes narrowed habitat protections, reducing both the timeline and area that could be considered for critical habitat.

They also got rid of some automatic protections for ?threatened? species, the classification one step below ?endangered.?

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, endangered means a species is in danger of extinction through all or a significant part of its range, while threatened means a species is likely to become endangered sometime in the foreseeable future.

The Biden administration said it would reinstate a regulation that gives any threatened species, like the lesser prairie-chicken, default protection unless the agency writes a specific plan for the species.

The Biden team also plans to reverse Trump-era rules that allow regulators to consider economic assessments when deciding whether to protect habitat?like calculating potential lost revenue. Previously, the law required regulators to make the decision solely based on science.

For some industries, the Trump administration?s rewrite was a welcome change.

For instance, the National Association of Home Builders says some Trump rules improved timelines on consultations, which can take 18 months or longer and slow down their projects.

?Returning to an inefficient ESA permitting process will not only raise the cost of housing, but will also delay countless other infrastructure projects that require either a federal permit or use federal funds,? said Michael Mittelholzer, NAHB?s assistant vice president of environmental policy.

Many Western Republicans also favored the Trump rules. Idaho Governor Brad Little said the Biden team?s reversal is a ?major disappointment.?

?It only serves to reinstate unnecessary regulatory burdens on the states and local communities that are most critical to the ESA?s success,? Little said in a statement.

White House directive

The turnaround on endangered species decision followed a directive from the White House for all federal agencies to reconsider Trump-era rules that run counter to Biden?s objectives like addressing climate change.

Fish and Wildlife Service Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams said in a statement that her agency would work with partners to make sure the regulations recover wildlife and help ?meet 21st century challenges? like climate change.

Williams said listing decisions would be made ?without reference to possible economic or other impacts.? She also promised to throw out regulations that limited the scope of habitat protections and reinstate protections for plants and animals listed as ?threatened species.?

The acting administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, which oversees protections for the 165 endangered and threatened marine species, also promised to revisit the agency?s regulations.

A push to do more

While environmental groups applauded the changes, some say that the Biden administration needs to go farther to protect plants and animals from climate change and other threats.

?I am really glad they are going to rescind and revisit these disastrous rules, but they?ve got their work cut out for them with dozens of other decisions that really leave imperiled species at risk of extinction,? said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit that files lawsuits and scientific petitions to try to compel the government to protect species.

For instance, his group recently threatened to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect 21 different species that the Trump administration had decided not to list. Greenwald says the agency drastically underestimated the threat climate change poses to the species.

But the agency said in a letter last month that the species had been properly evaluated and did not merit protection.

The list of species includes Florida?s Cedar Key Mole Skink, a small lizard that makes its home in the beach wrack that washes up during high tide. The group says the skink is threatened by sea-level rise, but the Trump administration only looked 30 years in the future to make its decision not to protect the lizard.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Allison Winter

The post Endangered species to get a reprieve under Biden administration plans first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624233101 ) [8] => Array ( [title] => With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/9L98O-LSPH0/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 23:51:23 +0000 [category] => News [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4175 [description] =>
With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots

(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso) Faced with veto threats at every turn from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, legislative Republicans are embracing their inner populists by looking to a new tool to pass their priorities: constitutional amendments  The process takes time. The Legislature must first approve amendments two sessions in a row in identical form. Then, […]

The post With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots

(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Faced with veto threats at every turn from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, legislative Republicans are embracing their inner populists by looking to a new tool to pass their priorities: constitutional amendments 

The process takes time. The Legislature must first approve amendments two sessions in a row in identical form. Then, voters can vote yes or no in a referendum. That means the process can take, at minimum, many months, if not years.

But for Republicans in Harrisburg, it?s the only way to avoid the Wolf in the near term, until the term-limited governor leaves office in 2022. Unlike traditional bills, Wolf cannot veto or block an amendment. 

Republicans used this tool to put two referenda on the May primary ballot that limit Wolf and future governor?s emergency powers last month. Both passed by slim margins, but the win has led Republicans to look to the future.

?That victory certainly has caused many of us to think that if we?re going to enact a policy ? the constitutional amendment is certainly a way to get it done and avoid having to deal with a liberal governor that will not sign what people are calling for,? state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, told the Capital-Star.

In a pandemic rebuke, Pa. voters move to limit Wolf?s emergency powers; approve referenda questions on racial justice and fire depts

Nowhere is this newfound love of permanent changes to the commonwealth?s governing document clearer than in the fight over Pennsylvania?s election law. 

It starts with Act 77, passed in 2019 with near unanimous support from legislative Republicans and only token backing from legislative Democrats. The bill eliminated straight-ticket voting, then a GOP priority, in exchange for approval of no-excuse mail-in ballots.

Democrats worried ending  straight-ticket voting would increase wait times in majority-minority voting districts. But many Republicans would come to regret their vote in 2020, when rulings by the state Supreme Court disallowed signature verification of mail-in ballots. 

The court also allowed, for that year?s election only, for ballots arriving up to three days late to count. Combined, these rulings ? plus former President Donald Trump?s baseless claims of fraud ? have animated Republicans? push for changes to election law this year.

Elections officials, advocates see some to like ? but a lot to raise eyebrows ? in Pa. House GOP election bill

A finished product release this week, from House State Government Committee Chairman Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, would broadly rewrite and modernize state election law; by increasing restrictions on ballot drop off boxes; decreasing the amount of time voters have to register to vote and request mail-in ballots; and requiring Pennsylvania?s to show ID every time they vote. Current law only requires voters to show ID when voting for the first time at a precinct.

The latter issue is highly sought by Republicans and their base. But it faces distinct political and legal challenges.

First, Wolf has been clear he won?t sign any bill with voter ID.

?Instead of pandering to the conspiracists and trying to silence the voices of Pennsylvanians, in the near term we should be working on a bipartisan basis to address a few limited priorities upon which we can agree,? Wolf said in a Thursday letter to Grove on his bill. 

Time for counties to process mail-in ballots before Election Day and funding for new technology was among their shared priorities. Voter ID was not.

Second, state courts ruled voter ID unconstitutional in 2014, after the Republican Legislature approved such a law in 2012.

With this in mind, House Republicans interviewed by the Capital-Star backed Grove?s proposal.

?I spend a lot of time talking to constituents and grassroots groups,? added state Rep. Mike Jones, R-York. ?They would love to get rid of mail-in voting. If you assume that?s not going to happen, this is a reasonable compromise.? 

And that?s also where constitutional amendments come into play. Such a legislative maneuver would neatly avoid both Wolf?s veto pen and the Supreme Court?s judgment.

Legislation has already been introduced in the House and Senate to do so, and the Senate advanced its election reform proposal out of committee this week. It passed in a party line 7-4 vote.

?This is downright scary,? state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, said during the committee vote. ?This is about one?s sanctity of their vote, and it doesn?t appear that parties that are involved understand this issue.?

Williams added: ?But be very clear, the public will.?

Polling has indicated the public will on voter ID requirements, and it doesn?t match what Democrats might hope. A Franklin and Marshall College poll released this week found that almost three in four Pennsylvanians supported voter ID laws.

Studies have found that such Black and brown voters are less likely to have ID, but it?s unclear if such laws impact minority voters? turnout. 

Some Republicans are even taking the amendment tactic further than implementing stricter voter verification. Two state senators, including noted Trump-ally Sen. Doug Mastrinao, R-Franklin, floated a ?statewide ballot measure? to repeal no-excuse mail-in ballots in late April.

?It is our view that the people of Pennsylvania should have the final say in how Pennsylvania conducts future elections,? a memo on the bill reads. Final language for the proposal has not yet been introduced.

Such was the view at a Capitol rally of Trump supporters Wednesday to call for a new, legislative review of the 2020 presidential election.

Pa. election audit a ?very real possibility,? top Pa. Senate Republican says after meeting activists

Lisa Rae Carey, a 55-year-old Westmoreland County resident, spoke at the rally and called for the repeal of Act 77.

She wanted Republicans legislative leaders to focus more on a bottom up instead of top down approach to governing in which they listened to the people, she told the Capital-Star. And Carey had looked over Grove?s bill, and wasn?t too impressed.

?Even with ID, we don?t want no-excuse absentee mail in ballots. And I need a vote on that,? Carey told the Capital-Star.

She wants the amendment referendum because lawmakers ?keep changing the law without our approval. That?s why I compare it to totalitarianism.?

If her fellow Pennsylvanians will follow her to repeal widespread mail-in voting is unclear. 

According to Franklin and Marshall?s polling, Pennsylvanians are evenly split on repealing no-excuse absentee ballots, with 45 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

Capital-Star Staff Reporter  Marley Parish contributed to this story.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Stephen Caruso

The post With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

) [feedburner] => Array ( [origlink] => https://lehighuniversity.org/with-new-amendment-strategy-pa-gop-could-target-voter-id-mail-in-ballots/ ) [summary] =>
With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots

(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso) Faced with veto threats at every turn from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, legislative Republicans are embracing their inner populists by looking to a new tool to pass their priorities: constitutional amendments  The process takes time. The Legislature must first approve amendments two sessions in a row in identical form. Then, […]

The post With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[atom_content] =>
With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots

(Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Faced with veto threats at every turn from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, legislative Republicans are embracing their inner populists by looking to a new tool to pass their priorities: constitutional amendments 

The process takes time. The Legislature must first approve amendments two sessions in a row in identical form. Then, voters can vote yes or no in a referendum. That means the process can take, at minimum, many months, if not years.

But for Republicans in Harrisburg, it?s the only way to avoid the Wolf in the near term, until the term-limited governor leaves office in 2022. Unlike traditional bills, Wolf cannot veto or block an amendment. 

Republicans used this tool to put two referenda on the May primary ballot that limit Wolf and future governor?s emergency powers last month. Both passed by slim margins, but the win has led Republicans to look to the future.

?That victory certainly has caused many of us to think that if we?re going to enact a policy ? the constitutional amendment is certainly a way to get it done and avoid having to deal with a liberal governor that will not sign what people are calling for,? state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, told the Capital-Star.

In a pandemic rebuke, Pa. voters move to limit Wolf?s emergency powers; approve referenda questions on racial justice and fire depts

Nowhere is this newfound love of permanent changes to the commonwealth?s governing document clearer than in the fight over Pennsylvania?s election law. 

It starts with Act 77, passed in 2019 with near unanimous support from legislative Republicans and only token backing from legislative Democrats. The bill eliminated straight-ticket voting, then a GOP priority, in exchange for approval of no-excuse mail-in ballots.

Democrats worried ending  straight-ticket voting would increase wait times in majority-minority voting districts. But many Republicans would come to regret their vote in 2020, when rulings by the state Supreme Court disallowed signature verification of mail-in ballots. 

The court also allowed, for that year?s election only, for ballots arriving up to three days late to count. Combined, these rulings ? plus former President Donald Trump?s baseless claims of fraud ? have animated Republicans? push for changes to election law this year.

Elections officials, advocates see some to like ? but a lot to raise eyebrows ? in Pa. House GOP election bill

A finished product release this week, from House State Government Committee Chairman Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, would broadly rewrite and modernize state election law; by increasing restrictions on ballot drop off boxes; decreasing the amount of time voters have to register to vote and request mail-in ballots; and requiring Pennsylvania?s to show ID every time they vote. Current law only requires voters to show ID when voting for the first time at a precinct.

The latter issue is highly sought by Republicans and their base. But it faces distinct political and legal challenges.

First, Wolf has been clear he won?t sign any bill with voter ID.

?Instead of pandering to the conspiracists and trying to silence the voices of Pennsylvanians, in the near term we should be working on a bipartisan basis to address a few limited priorities upon which we can agree,? Wolf said in a Thursday letter to Grove on his bill. 

Time for counties to process mail-in ballots before Election Day and funding for new technology was among their shared priorities. Voter ID was not.

Second, state courts ruled voter ID unconstitutional in 2014, after the Republican Legislature approved such a law in 2012.

With this in mind, House Republicans interviewed by the Capital-Star backed Grove?s proposal.

?I spend a lot of time talking to constituents and grassroots groups,? added state Rep. Mike Jones, R-York. ?They would love to get rid of mail-in voting. If you assume that?s not going to happen, this is a reasonable compromise.? 

And that?s also where constitutional amendments come into play. Such a legislative maneuver would neatly avoid both Wolf?s veto pen and the Supreme Court?s judgment.

Legislation has already been introduced in the House and Senate to do so, and the Senate advanced its election reform proposal out of committee this week. It passed in a party line 7-4 vote.

?This is downright scary,? state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, said during the committee vote. ?This is about one?s sanctity of their vote, and it doesn?t appear that parties that are involved understand this issue.?

Williams added: ?But be very clear, the public will.?

Polling has indicated the public will on voter ID requirements, and it doesn?t match what Democrats might hope. A Franklin and Marshall College poll released this week found that almost three in four Pennsylvanians supported voter ID laws.

Studies have found that such Black and brown voters are less likely to have ID, but it?s unclear if such laws impact minority voters? turnout. 

Some Republicans are even taking the amendment tactic further than implementing stricter voter verification. Two state senators, including noted Trump-ally Sen. Doug Mastrinao, R-Franklin, floated a ?statewide ballot measure? to repeal no-excuse mail-in ballots in late April.

?It is our view that the people of Pennsylvania should have the final say in how Pennsylvania conducts future elections,? a memo on the bill reads. Final language for the proposal has not yet been introduced.

Such was the view at a Capitol rally of Trump supporters Wednesday to call for a new, legislative review of the 2020 presidential election.

Pa. election audit a ?very real possibility,? top Pa. Senate Republican says after meeting activists

Lisa Rae Carey, a 55-year-old Westmoreland County resident, spoke at the rally and called for the repeal of Act 77.

She wanted Republicans legislative leaders to focus more on a bottom up instead of top down approach to governing in which they listened to the people, she told the Capital-Star. And Carey had looked over Grove?s bill, and wasn?t too impressed.

?Even with ID, we don?t want no-excuse absentee mail in ballots. And I need a vote on that,? Carey told the Capital-Star.

She wants the amendment referendum because lawmakers ?keep changing the law without our approval. That?s why I compare it to totalitarianism.?

If her fellow Pennsylvanians will follow her to repeal widespread mail-in voting is unclear. 

According to Franklin and Marshall?s polling, Pennsylvanians are evenly split on repealing no-excuse absentee ballots, with 45 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed.

Capital-Star Staff Reporter  Marley Parish contributed to this story.



Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Stephen Caruso

The post With new amendment strategy, Pa. GOP could target voter ID, mail-in ballots first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[date_timestamp] => 1624233083 ) [9] => Array ( [title] => Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC?s Silva and moves to goalkeeper [link] => http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/lehighpanews/~3/HbIp1jbm3kU/ [dc] => Array ( [creator] => Annaliese Alexander ) [pubdate] => Sun, 20 Jun 2021 17:43:19 +0000 [category] => Bethlehem [guid] => https://lehighuniversity.org/?p=4169 [description] =>
Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. “I […]

The post Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

[content] => Array ( [encoded] =>
Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained.

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career.

“I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. “I was a little chubby growing up so the next man to walk in is always the chubby guy when one of our goalkeepers went down.

“I played the game, I really enjoyed it. From then on I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll be a goalkeeper.’ It turned out to be a minor blessing. “

Silva was then 12 or 13 years old. Today, the 22-year-old from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is six feet tall, weighs just 150 pounds and is Toronto FC’s third goalkeeper.

He hasn’t forgotten his forward skills on the ball.

“I would say it’s a great strength in my game,” he said. “Growing up and playing on the (outdoor) field helped me feel comfortable with the ball at my feet. And growing up in my old PDA (Players Development Academy in Somerset, NJ) my trainer (Tyler Stakiwicz, now an assistant at Rutgers University) knew very well what was going on in the new goalkeeping era and wanted to incorporate that into my game very early on as soon as I got there.

?I think it was something that helped me a lot. I appreciate it very much. I didn’t really understand why he wanted that at that age. But it has helped and helped me pay off. I enjoy having the ball at my feet. I understand that there is only one extra player on the field for the team. “

After loaning part of 2019 from Scotland’s Hearts to Toronto FC 2, Silva made a permanent move to TFC’s reserve team in January before signing a first-team contract ahead of the MLS back tournament in Florida in July.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney, while acknowledging the role of the third “keeper,” especially given COVID-19 is limiting opportunities in lower leagues, says Silva has bowed her head, kept working and improved.

“He’s doing great … He’s an ideal third goalkeeper right now because he’s young and developing,” said Vanney. “He has similar qualities to Q (starter Quentin Westberg). He’s not the greatest goalkeeper (but) he has really good feet.”

“He’s very competent, almost like an outfield player,” he added. “So that was nice … And he’s a really good communicator. Feels secure in communication and leadership. And he’s a good goalkeeper. There are things (goalkeeping coach) Jon Conway and the goalkeeping team are working on to help him But he’s a really good guy, a really hard worker and he fits in really well with our group. “

Prior to joining Toronto FC II, Silva made five appearances for the Heart of Midlothian FC reserve team in 2018 and was later loaned to Raith Rovers FC from the Scottish Third Division.

Silva played collegially at UCLA and played in 30 games with seven goals conceded in two seasons. He then switched to Rutgers but never saw anything. He moved to Scotland where he spent about 18 months.

“I would say it was a good experience,” he said. “It was my first professional environment – good coaching staff, great players. It was a good experience to see what a day it was for me in a professional environment … I think it has helped me both as a player and as a person to mature. ” . “

Silva was part of the US youth setup, from U14 to U19.

Despite restrictions due to the pandemic, Silva says he is enjoying his time as a Toronto FC player. He believes the MLS team’s style of play suits his skills better. And he learns through training alongside Westberg and Alex Bono.

“They drive me every day and really help me focus on little things that I need to correct. Exercising with them and learning from them was really fun … I am really blessed to be a part of this group too be.”

Silva is number 90, a number he was given when he moved to TFC 2. He had hoped to get the number 99 with the first team but striker Ifunanyachi Achara beat him.

“I’ll make it my number,” he said of # 90.

Silva and Toronto FC returned to their pandemic home in East Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday after a few days at home. Toronto “hosts” the Philadelphia Union in an 8-2-4 club bout at Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Rentschler Field on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 30, 2020

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

The post Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

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Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. “I […]

The post Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

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Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career. “I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained.

TORONTO – Kevin Silva can thank teenage baby fat for a step that helped make soccer a career.

“I actually grew up as a striker,” he explained. “I was a little chubby growing up so the next man to walk in is always the chubby guy when one of our goalkeepers went down.

“I played the game, I really enjoyed it. From then on I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll be a goalkeeper.’ It turned out to be a minor blessing. “

Silva was then 12 or 13 years old. Today, the 22-year-old from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is six feet tall, weighs just 150 pounds and is Toronto FC’s third goalkeeper.

He hasn’t forgotten his forward skills on the ball.

“I would say it’s a great strength in my game,” he said. “Growing up and playing on the (outdoor) field helped me feel comfortable with the ball at my feet. And growing up in my old PDA (Players Development Academy in Somerset, NJ) my trainer (Tyler Stakiwicz, now an assistant at Rutgers University) knew very well what was going on in the new goalkeeping era and wanted to incorporate that into my game very early on as soon as I got there.

?I think it was something that helped me a lot. I appreciate it very much. I didn’t really understand why he wanted that at that age. But it has helped and helped me pay off. I enjoy having the ball at my feet. I understand that there is only one extra player on the field for the team. “

After loaning part of 2019 from Scotland’s Hearts to Toronto FC 2, Silva made a permanent move to TFC’s reserve team in January before signing a first-team contract ahead of the MLS back tournament in Florida in July.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney, while acknowledging the role of the third “keeper,” especially given COVID-19 is limiting opportunities in lower leagues, says Silva has bowed her head, kept working and improved.

“He’s doing great … He’s an ideal third goalkeeper right now because he’s young and developing,” said Vanney. “He has similar qualities to Q (starter Quentin Westberg). He’s not the greatest goalkeeper (but) he has really good feet.”

“He’s very competent, almost like an outfield player,” he added. “So that was nice … And he’s a really good communicator. Feels secure in communication and leadership. And he’s a good goalkeeper. There are things (goalkeeping coach) Jon Conway and the goalkeeping team are working on to help him But he’s a really good guy, a really hard worker and he fits in really well with our group. “

Prior to joining Toronto FC II, Silva made five appearances for the Heart of Midlothian FC reserve team in 2018 and was later loaned to Raith Rovers FC from the Scottish Third Division.

Silva played collegially at UCLA and played in 30 games with seven goals conceded in two seasons. He then switched to Rutgers but never saw anything. He moved to Scotland where he spent about 18 months.

“I would say it was a good experience,” he said. “It was my first professional environment – good coaching staff, great players. It was a good experience to see what a day it was for me in a professional environment … I think it has helped me both as a player and as a person to mature. ” . “

Silva was part of the US youth setup, from U14 to U19.

Despite restrictions due to the pandemic, Silva says he is enjoying his time as a Toronto FC player. He believes the MLS team’s style of play suits his skills better. And he learns through training alongside Westberg and Alex Bono.

“They drive me every day and really help me focus on little things that I need to correct. Exercising with them and learning from them was really fun … I am really blessed to be a part of this group too be.”

Silva is number 90, a number he was given when he moved to TFC 2. He had hoped to get the number 99 with the first team but striker Ifunanyachi Achara beat him.

“I’ll make it my number,” he said of # 90.

Silva and Toronto FC returned to their pandemic home in East Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday after a few days at home. Toronto “hosts” the Philadelphia Union in an 8-2-4 club bout at Pratt & Whitney Stadium on Rentschler Field on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 30, 2020

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

The post Babyfett turns out to be a blessing for Toronto FC's Silva and moves to goalkeeper first appeared on Lehigh University Nation News.

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