While the state House returned to Harrisburg in September with the goal of finalizing the remaining details of the FY24 budget. Much work remained to be done on the necessary code bills that would allow $1.1 billion in funding to flow to schools, mental health services, grant programs for homeowners, and more. When the House was in session the week of October 2, they finally passed several code bills to advance the budget toward the finish line. The bills now head to the state Senate.
Putting the spotlight on the Film Tax Credit, the tax code legislation – HB 1219 – did pass the House by a vote of 102-101 on Tuesday, October 3. Included in the legislation were several changes to the Film Tax Credit program: it increased the annual limit from $100 million to $150 million; removed a section limiting the increase in tax credits available for the Film Production Tax Credit; provides for an additional tax credit of 5% for certain qualified taxpayers; adds additional eligibility criteria related to PA producers and women-owned and minority-owned businesses, and designates the greater of 10% or $5 million of the available tax credit for PA producers.
These changes can be found in the text of HB 1219 beginning on page 39, line 39.
As with all the other code bills that the House passed this week, the tax code language was not drafted in conjunction with the Senate Republican Caucus, so the fate of the bill is uncertain. There is significant push back regarding certain aspects of the tax code bill, like combined reporting. Both the House and Senate return to voting session on Monday, October 16.
Governor Josh Shapiro made several important announcements throughout September, including the crafting of a new statewide economic development plan, automatic voter registration for voters who visit PennDOT, and an executive order intended to help prepare the commonwealth to incorporate generative artificial intelligence into government operations.
Toward the end of September, Governor Shapiro spoke at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual convention in support of President Joe Biden — a visit that has prompted rumors about Shapiro’s potential presidential ambitions. During his speech, Governor Shapiro called for political action on issues like abortion, climate change, and voting rights.
September also marked the first high-profile departure from Governor Shapiro’s cabinet, as Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mike Vereb abruptly resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment. Governor Shapiro has since appointed senior advisor Thomas Yablonski Jr. to the position.
On October 2, Lindsay Powell was sworn in as state Representative of the 21st District, making official the results of a September 19 special election that tipped the balance of power in the state House back to Democrats. The special election was held to replace former Representative Sara Innamorato, who resigned in August to focus on her campaign for Allegheny County executive.
With about a month to be until the November elections, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) announced that it will be investing six figures into the campaign to fill the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacancy left by the passing of Chief Justice Max Baer last year. The race between Carolyn Carluccio and Dan McCaffrey will have lasting implications for court decisions on voting issues and other election cases.
September brought news that Democratic mayoral nominee Cherelle Parker and Republican nominee David Oh will be participating in a debate on October 26 on KYWNewsradio. Parker, who is heavily favored to win in November and continues to outraise her opponent, had previously indicated that she would not be participating in a debate during the general election cycle.
An increasing number of Philadelphia Democratic officials have chosen to endorse Working Families Party (WFP) City Council candidates, incumbent Councilmember Kendra Brooks and pastor Nicolas O’Rourke, despite threats from Democratic City Committee Chair Bob Brady to have the ward leader and committee members replaced ahead of the November 7 general election. Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter requires that two of the seven at-large seats on Council be reserved for members of a minority party, which has historically meant Republicans. Of the minority-party candidates running, WFP candidates have been outraising their Republican opponents, and they’ve received endorsements from high-profile Democrats including Governor Shapiro and U.S. Senator Fetterman.
Meanwhile, in the Far Northeast, longtime District 10 Councilmember Brian O’Neill — currently the only Republican serving on City Council — is facing a serious challenge from Democrat and union leader Gary Masino. A win for Councilmember Brooks, Nicolas O’Rourke, and Gary Masino would be historic, as it would mean there would be no Republicans serving on City Council.
On October 4, the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council announced its endorsement of four Democrats — Nina Ahmad and incumbents Isaiah Thomas, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, and Jim Harrity — and Republican Jim Hasher for City Council, due to his support of the proposed 76ers arena in Center City.
The end of September and beginning of October has seen Democrat Sara Innamorato and Republican Joe Rockey, both candidates for Allegheny County Executive, face off twice in televised debates, with topics ranging from the local economy, jobs, and tax policy to public safety, crime, and the justice system. The debates coincided with the airing of Innamorato’s first television ads of the general election season. Rockey has been airing ads since September. Innamorato is heavily favored to win in November.
The Allegheny County’ District Attorney race has attracted an unusual level of national attention, with dollars flowing into the race from groups affiliated with high-profile figures like George Soros and Andrew Yang. Stephen Zappala Jr. — a former Democrat running for re-election to the position as a Republican — launched negative campaign ads in mid-September attacking opponent and former chief public defender Matt Dugan’s stance on crime and public safety.
On October 5, the state House passed legislation that would move Pennsylvania’s 2024 primary date from April 23 — which would conflict with the Jewish holiday of Passover — to April 2. The 102-100 vote occurred entirely along party lines, with Republicans arguing that a March 19 primary — which was approved by the state Senate in September but failed in the House after being heavily amended by the State Government Committee to include changes to voter identification requirements and mail-in voting rules — would give Pennsylvania voters more of a say in deciding presidential nominees. Election officials have expressed concerns about the logistical challenges of moving the primary date up. The bill now heads back to the Republican-controlled Senate, where its future is uncertain.
In other 2024 presidential race news, a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump virtually tied in Pennsylvania, setting up what will surely be a contentious rematch in the battleground state. In an early attempt to appeal to Pennsylvania voters, President Biden has begun airing television ads emphasizing his Scranton roots.
Republican David McCormick finally announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in late September after months of building anticipation. As expected, he has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party. While McCormick is running to unseat incumbent Senator Bob Casey, attacks against U.S. Senator John Fetterman — who was elected during the midterms in 2022 — have reportedly been more motivating for his base.
Pittsburgh-area Democrat Blaine Forkner has also announced that he will be challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Casey in the primary, though Senator Casey is currently expected to prevail.
State Representative Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) announced his candidacy for Pennsylvania attorney general in mid-September, becoming the fourth Democratic candidate to join the race. Current Attorney General Michelle Henry, who was appointed by Governor Josh Shapiro to replace himself in the role, has already indicated that she will not run for election to a full term in office.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org