State & Federal Political Recap

Application Process Opens for Reapportionment Commission Chair
The 2021 Legislative Reapportionment Commission is seeking applicants interested in serving as the Commission’s chair.  The LRC’s membership consists of the state’s four legislative floor leaders – Senators Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland and Jay Costa, D-Allegheny; and Representatives Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre and Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia – as well as a fifth member selected by the commission members to serve as chair.  Per the state’s constitution, the chair must be a resident of Pennsylvania and cannot hold a local, state or federal office in which compensation is attached.  The commission is charged with utilizing the new U.S. Census data to draw updated lines for each state legislative district – accounting for population changes and shifts.  More information on the chair application process can be found here.


‘Vaccine Passports’ Take Center Stage
As vaccine distribution ramps up across the Commonwealth, lawmakers are now wrangling with the notion of ‘vaccine passport’ requirements in a post-pandemic society.  The concept is that documentation of proof of vaccination would be required before an individual could engage in certain activities – such as flying or attending large group gatherings.  At a press conference last week, Gov. Tom Wolf noted that if the General Assembly approved such a measure, he would probably support it.  However, the issue has a staunch opponent in House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, who called the idea “an opening to unfathomable government intrusion into people’s personal lives, particularly their private medical information.”  The issue has popped up in other states as well – with a proposal to require passports already introduced in neighboring New York.  Additional coverage of the issue and Gov. Wolf’s press conference can be found in this Allentown Morning Call article. 


Playing with Senate Procedure
Democrats are continuing to push for changes to the U.S. Senate’s long-standing filibuster rule in order to get several liberal policy priorities over the finish line.  This week, Rep. Parmila Jayapal, D-Washington, chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus, advocated for an overhaul of Senate procedure – by either changing or abolishing the filibuster in its entirety – in order to get President Biden’s infrastructure package enacted into law, while also noting that she thinks the $2 trillion proposal isn’t nearly big enough.  “We would like to see a great plan that goes big. The Biden infrastructure proposal on the campaign trail was significantly larger. We think there is ample room to get the number up,” she said according to a CNN report.  Her comments highlight challenges the Democratic party is currently facing as it strives to keep moderate members united with more aggressive liberal factions.


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