Saying goodbye to one of our own | Five for the Weekend

By: - April 24, 2021 6:31 am
2019 staff

Happy Weekend, all.

This is week was a tough one for the Capital-Star team.

One of our founding reporters, Elizabeth Hardison, has moved on to greener pastures, as they say, and we will certainly miss having her as a part of our team.

In her two years with us, Lizzy not only covered the state Senate, but everything from the Board of Pardons and Charter School Appeals Board to the Department of Education and topics such as criminal justice reform, social justice, and of course, COVID-19.

In honor of Lizzy’s hard work and dedication, here are a few highlights from her time with us.

Fetterman, Shapiro say they both believe in second chances. Pardons board votes tell two different stories
Pennsylvania’s vaccine program is flailing. Nurses in the statehouse are out to fix it
Citing emergency powers, Wolf admin skirts public bidding requirements to award $11.5M consulting contract 
The debate over tolling Pennsylvania bridges, explained 
An ‘off-year’ election? There’s no such thing for these local officials. 

Join us in wishing Lizzy the best in her future endeavors!

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Capital-Star Q+A: Rep. Seth Grove on election hearings, voter fraud, and the future of reform in Pa.

The Pennsylvania House finished a set of 10 hearings diving into the nitty gritty of the commonwealth’s election law last week.

The hearings were overseen by Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, the chairman of the House State Government Committee.

First elected in 2008, Grove has built a reputation as a fiscal hawk, even winning an award from the American Legislative Exchange Council — a national conservative business lobbying group — as legislator of the year in 2018.

He’s served as chair of the State Government Committee since last November, first jumping on as an interim chief in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election.

In that role, he appeared at a conspiratorial press conference about Dominion Voting Machines, but did not join some of his conservative colleagues in calls for a legislative audit of the election, or a late December letter that falsely claimed that “the numbers don’t add up” in the state’s vote tally.

2. Monthly checks to flow to Pa. children, families under tax credit tweak in new federal stimulus

State and local governments and small businesses are poised to net billions of dollars in benefits under the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that President Joe Biden signed this week, which aims to juice an economy that’s seen its inequalities widen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the stimulus package also has another big winner: children.

The sweeping legislation includes billions of dollars to support child care facilities, expand food assistance benefits, and send cash straight to families’ bank accounts.

Most of these payments are one-time cash infusions, meant to stabilize industries and households ailing from the pandemic shutdowns. The marquee benefit will come in the form of economic impact payments – or “stimulus checks” – that send up to $1,400 to taxpayers’ bank accounts.

But tucked inside is a major change to the federal tax code that’s poised to deliver a monthly child benefit to all but a sliver of America’s families – a policy that experts say could cut child poverty rates in half if it becomes a longterm fixture of American life.

3. We tried drawing our own Pa. congressional maps. Here’s what we came up with

With the Keystone State deep in the throes of the decennial redrawing of its legislative and congressional maps, the staff of the Capital-Star decided to try its hand at this incredibly important exercise in representative democracy.

Our results are below. We’d invite you to submit your own maps to us as well. Tag us on Twitter @PennCapitalStar, and we’ll share them with our readers.

A few notes: These maps aren’t a recommendation for policymakers. They do not represent the official position of the Capital-Star, its staff, or its management. At a time when civic participation is critical, we just thought it would be a good idea (and maybe even fun) to try the mapmaking process for ourselves and see what we came up with.

4. Pa. Republicans eyeing tighter voter ID requirements to meet wall of Wolf veto

As then-President Donald Trump used baseless claims of election fraud to try to  unsuccessfully hold onto the presidency, Pennsylvania’s majority Republican Legislature amplified those claims, and promised a string of hearings, in preparation to change state voting law.

They aren’t alone.

Since courts and Congress affirmed Trump’s loss, GOP-controlled states across the country are tightening voting laws in response to the former president’s loss, building off Trump’s fact-free questioning of the 2020 election’s legitimacy.

But unlike in many of those states, and despite support in the General Assembly for restrictive measures, Republicans aren’t going to get everything they want in Pennsylvania.

This difference between what Republicans want, and what Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf might eventually sign, will animate the next three months of negotiations, as Pennsylvania officials charged with cleaning up state election law work to find common ground in the shadow of Trump’s false claims.

Among the most sought after GOP policies facing a likely gubernatorial veto is the expansion of who has to show photo ID to vote.

5. Here’s how Pa. politicians reacted to the Chauvin trial verdict

Here’s how Pennsylvania’s state and federal elected officials reacted to the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin who was found guilty on three counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.