Redistricting, GOP sends bad maps to Wolf:
Pennsylvania Republicans have voted on a new map for PA’s 17 congressional districts. Governor Wolf has already indicated that he will veto this map which will officially send the redistricting process to the Commonwealth Court. The court will hold hearings later this week and pick a new map to use by January 30th. Last summer the PA Department of State indicated that if new maps were not agreed upon by January 24th that the May primary would have to be delayed – that date is now passed, but it is not clear yet if the election will need to be delayed.
Strike-tober will become Strike-bruary:
And whether or not you can say “Anesthetists” 3 times fast, you deserve a union. The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital announced a 1 day strike for Wednesday, February 2. They have been in contract negotiations with Capital Anesthesia Solutions since April 2021. They're fighting for better working conditions and better recruitment and retention of staff. The entire hospital has been understaffed for months and only 17 CRNAs are on staff to care for a growing number of patients. In addition to administering anesthesia, they now give regional pain blocks, epidurals, and intubate every COVID patient.
Chambersburg became the first PA town to revoke the LGBTQ inclusive law. The GOP-led council voted 7-3 to repeal it, largely because they claimed it would cause “more discrimination” in the community, despite the pleas of the actual community that showed up at the meeting. But before anyone tries to point fingers at rural PA, consider this thread from our friend Ezra Thrush who encourages us to spend time and resources in the community instead of dogging them online.
The Lancaster GOP will be training members of conservative activist group FreePA next month on how to run to become a committee person in Lancaster County. Local Republicans have taken up the mantle of training those in their activist base to run for local office even if those “activists” make a habit of spreading misinformation. Our chapters have already set trainings for our members to get people more involved in local elections.
As you probably expected, the voting rights bill failed in the Senate last week. It would have established minimum standards to ensure free and fair elections and protect against voter suppression, but Senators Manchin and Sinema chose violence and voted against it. At the same time, the PA Assembly has been pushing forward HB 1800 to further reduce our voter access. Take some time to write to your legislators and ask them to vote against it. Our chapters in Berks and Lehigh Valley have been working closely with election boards to stop voter suppression at the hyper-local level
Child tax credit
The American Rescue Plan increased the Child Tax Credit by $1,000 per child for children over the age of six and $1,600 for children under the age of six. While this benefit lifted millions of children out of poverty and even boosted brain development, it was only available for the 2021 tax year. Democrats had hoped to make this tax credit permanent through the passage of the Build Back Better bill but it now seems that that legislation won’t pass leaving many to wonder what happens to those families now.
Russia Threatens Invasion of Ukraine
The biggest international news story of the week is war looming on the horizon in Eastern Europe. For the last eight years Russia and Ukraine have been fighting a small scale proxy war in Eastern Ukraine. Over the last few months Russia has been building up its military forces along the Ukrainian border and now threatens a full scale invasion. Negotiations are ongoing between the United States, NATO and Russia – but it’s unclear what the results will be, and what the response will be from the US.
The Green M&M endorses child slavery:
A lot of the news around candy this week has focused on Mars rebranding the look of their M&M characters to be “more inclusive. The real story is that International Rights Advocates brought a lawsuit against Mars, Wrigley, Hershey, Nestle, and others that will have a court date set in the next couple of weeks. The lawsuit brings forward the stories of eight children who were forced into child labor and represent several thousand more experiences. We aren’t blinded by the rainbow capitalism that we usually see in June, but is clearly being used to avoid human right violations.