Good Saturday Morning, All.
It’s Capital-Star Editor John L. Micek sitting in for Cassie Miller, who’s taking a few, well-deserved days off. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
There’s been a lot of talk these last few years about the need to invest in the well-paying jobs of the future. This week, the Wolf administration put its money where its mouth, announcing that it had $297,000 in state funding to support apprenticeships in the electrical industry.
The beneficiary of the money is JATC of Shamokin Electricians IBEW LU 607, which says it plans to use the windfall to help offset expenses for students who are required to contribute to the cost of their education, and to finance supplies for the program. The money comes the state’s Pre-Apprentice and Apprenticeship Grant Program. You can learn more about the program here.
According to the Wolf administration, the JATC runs a five-year program that includes 180 hours of classroom training and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. While students receive a paycheck (which increases, along with their responsibilities, as they advance), they’re still expected to help defray the cost of their training.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for this investment in Central Pennsylvania’s electrical workers,” Michael J. Glowatski, the JATC’s training director, said in a statement. “This will have a significant impact in our ability to provide training in our rapidly advancing industry.”
Right now, there are 35 apprentices enrolled in the apprenticeship program at the JATC’s training center in Shamokin, Northumberland County, the administration said. Their instructors are all graduates of the JATC that work or have worked in the in the electrical industry, according to the administration.
“Apprenticeship programs are an essential tool to grow the commonwealth’s workforce,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement. “Apprentices earn a paycheck while learning the specialized skills they need to secure a good job upon completion of their program. This is a true win for both apprentices and businesses in Pennsylvania.”
As always, your top five most-read stories start below.
It can be difficult to understand that one is living through an epochal event in world history.
That was not the case in October 1962, when the world held its breath as the United States and the Soviet Union stared each other down over Nikita Khrushchev’s covert stationing of nuclear missiles in Cuba.
After diplomacy backed by the threat of military force, the Soviet Union blinked and withdrew its missiles, and Khrushchev lost power about eighteen months later in the world’s closest known brush with nuclear Armageddon.
We may be in a similar moment now. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has gone badly, far worse than he reportedly expected, due both to extraordinary Ukrainian valor, substandard Russian logistics, planning, and battlefield performance.
The global reaction has been nearly unanimous and fierce, with Russia facing crippling economic sanctions, Germany lifting its longstanding prohibition on allowing the transport of lethal aid, and NATO gaining significant strength including the possible addition of new members Finland and Sweden.
There has never been an international reaction of such speed and ferocity to an action by any state, a testament both to the nakedness of Putin’s aggression and the masterful diplomacy of the Biden administration.
Putin is cornered like a rat in a cage. But caged rats don’t have nuclear weapons.
After years of enduring the entirely justifiable criticism that the modern Republican Party was bereft of ideas and inspiration, and had instead merely become a vessel for the authoritarian delusions of one man, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., decided to take matters into his own hands.
Scott, the head of the Senate Republicans’ re-election wing, sat down and came up with a policy agenda so uniformly terrible that some of his fellow Republicans (notably House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.), can’t bring themselves to support it, WFLA-TV reported.
Scott is coming in for scorching criticism for his suggestion that all Americans, regardless of their wealth, be required to pay federal income taxes.
While this may theoretically sound great on paper (Yes, we’re looking at you, Jeff Bezos), the consensus is that it would result in a massive tax hike for the poorest 40 percent of Americans, who would see their tax liability rise by an average of $1,000, according to one analysis.
The share of households facing tax hikes would vary across states, according to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, ranging from a low of about 24 percent in Washington State to high of roughly 50 percent in Mississippi, which is among the poorest states in the country.
After wrestling with whether legalizing adult-use cannabis could curb demand on the black market earlier this month, a Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Senate committee on Monday heard from experts on how — if the state moves ahead with legalization — to regulate the product and ensure economic growth.
The two-hour Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing was one in a series of meetings to evaluate the possible benefits of legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis in Pennsylvania and draft oversight measures.
Pennsylvania’s neighbors — New York, Virginia, and New Jersey — have legalized recreational cannabis. Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, changed his stance on adult-use cannabis in 2019, joining Lt. Gov. John Fetterman in calling for legalization.
There also is growing support for similar legislation among Pennsylvania residents. An October 2021 poll by Franklin & Marshall College showed 60 percent support among registered voters for cannabis legalization.
Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, who chairs the Senate panel, announced plans to introduce legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis to help fund law enforcement last fall alongside state Rep. Amen Brown, D-Philadelphia. Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, became the first Senate Republican to support adult cannabis use, introducing a legalization proposal with Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, last year.
But it’s unlikely that Pennsylvania will join its neighbors and states across the country in passing adult-use cannabis legislation. House and Senate leadership have not expressed support for the measure, though some have signaled an openness to vet a proposal.
4. Three consolidating state schools to become ‘Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania’
Three consolidating Pennsylvania state universities have a new name as they become a northeastern regional campus for students enrolling this year.
The merging schools — Bloomsburg, Mansfield, and Lock Haven universities — will form Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, following unanimous approval from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors on Wednesday.
The new title still needs approval from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which handles college and university accreditation.
“This is tremendously exciting work, but it’s also super hard work,” State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein said. “And it’s taking a lot of effort and application to kind of realize a new vision for the future of our students.”
It’s the latest step in consolidating six PASSHE schools into two regional campuses to address rising tuition costs and sagging enrollment across the education system. The merger also includes California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities, which were renamed Pennsylvania Western University last fall.
5. Pa.’s new congressional map is reflective of the commonwealth’s voters, justices arguedAll seven Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices made clear their thoughts on redistricting Wednesday, as in a rare move, each released their own individual opinion outlining where they fell on the recently enacted congressional map.The court, in a February order, picked the so-called “Carter Map,” named for a group of voters represented by Democratic attorney Marc Elias’ law firm, to be the Commonwealth’s next map after Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly could not agree on a plan.With Pennsylvania set to lose a congressional seat, the map had to be redrawn from 18 to 17 districts. As such, doing nothing was not an option, and a dozen or so plaintiffs, including lawmakers, citizens, and good government groups submitted maps to the court.The court backed the Carter map 4-3, with one liberal justice — Debra Todd — joining her two conservative counterparts opposing the selection.Much of the court’s internal debate revolved around how to apply the court’s 2018 decision invalidating the commonwealth’s then Republican-drawn congressional plan as a partisan gerrymander to this decade’s redistricting impasse.And that’s the week. See you all back here next week.
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