The FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida mansion has made the most headlines this week, but lawmakers in Pennsylvania are also being thrown into the probe.
On Wednesday, PennLive reported that the FBI served subpoenas on the offices of several Republican state representatives and senators in Harrisburg.
The names of the lawmakers have not been confirmed, and as of Friday, GOP spokesmen said they had no evidence the members were targeted.
This news came shortly after the revelation that federal agents had seized US Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone as part of an ongoing investigation. Perry, R-10th District, later emphasized that he is not the target, telling Fox News’ Tucker Carlson: “I heard from my attorneys, who spoke directly with the Department of Justice, who said that I, their client, am not the target of this investigation.”
Federal officials are reportedly investigating the list of voters that Trump allies organized during the 2020 election. Weeks after then-candidate Joe Biden won the November election, a group of Trump supporters, including some prominent political figures in Pennsylvania, signed a form indicating they would serve as alternate voters who could help swing the race for Trump.
The federal probes surrounding the voters — and the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol building — have drawn many Republican politicians, though none have been charged or explicitly named as targets.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, the GOP nominee for governor, reportedly appeared briefly this week before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 incident. Mastriano spoke to the FBI earlier this summer.
While little is publicly known about the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home or the ongoing investigations in Pennsylvania, conservative candidates have attacked the probe as politically motivated.
Speaking to right-wing news station Newsmax this week, Mastriano blamed the investigations on Democratic opponents, though he offered little to back up the claim.
“The Democrats are going too far. I see it in Pennsylvania, we’re seeing it in Washington, DC and last night we saw it in Florida.” he said
Representing the last push to change school funding
A state lawmaker is working to radically reshape how public schools are funded, with a proposed constitutional amendment that could eliminate property taxes and replace them with sales and income taxes.
Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, has long worked to change the state’s school funding system, which relies on local property taxes. Ryan will retire this year, but he is proposing a definitive constitutional change that extends beyond his legislative career.
Call the plan “critically important” In a memo to colleagues this week, Ryan said: “The shift to a sales/income tax eliminates the regressive school property tax and will serve to remove barriers to home ownership.”
Ryan’s amendment would have to clear several hurdles: The General Assembly would have to pass it in two consecutive sessions before it goes to the public for an electoral referendum. Republican lawmakers have proposed several constitutional changes in recent months, in part to avoid a Democratic governor’s veto.
Ryan already proposed a package in February to change the way Pennsylvania funds its schools, with co-sponsors including Rep. Bud Cook, R-Washington.
The bill, which Ryan proposed to use as a replacement law if his amendment passes, would replace property taxes with a 2 percent sales tax and an increase in the personal income tax. Some retirement income would also be taxed under your plan.
“Now is the time to save the Commonwealth from financial bankruptcy and its residents from homelessness,” he said
The school funding system has long been controversial.
Supporters and opponents of the state’s funding formula battled in court for months this year in a case that dates back nearly a decade. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued that the funding formula violates the state constitution’s promise of equal protection, with poor districts getting less than their fair share.
Commonwealth Court judges heard closing arguments in that case last month.
Democrats celebrate a close victory
Democrats in Congress spent last week celebrating a key legislative victory, with hundreds of billions of federal dollars slated to promote renewable energy and combat the effects of climate change.
The Inflation Reduction Act, named amid concerns about rising prices, includes a watered-down version of much of President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The bill includes new taxes to raise funds, along with tax credits to encourage Americans to buy electric vehicles. Money is also established to encourage more energy efficient and environmentally friendly power generation devices and systems.
“We are currently living in a time where once-in-a-lifetime storms occur every two months. Adverse weather conditions are now the norm. While hurricane debris is flooding the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia, the states of the West are on fire and lakes are disappearing in the worst drought in a millennium.” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a news release after voting for the legislation. “It’s past time to take bold action to address the climate crisis.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Republican, who is leaving office this year, said the plan was to “Strongly Partisan on Taxes and Spending.”
The bill also expands certain forms of health coverage and aims to reduce the federal deficit.
Republicans voted against the bill, with the final Senate vote being 51-50. In the House last year, every Republican voted in opposition while only one Democrat broke ranks to join.
Pennsylvania’s delegation was neatly split along party lines, with only Perry not voting.
Ryan Brown covers statewide politics for Ogden Newspapers. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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