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Profile Information

Name: Kathy Hinsman
Gender: Female
Hometown: Pittsburgh PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Pittsburgh
Member since: Sat Feb 18, 2017, 01:16 PM
Number of posts: 26,708

Journal Archives

Rejecting undated mail ballots disproportionately impacts communities of color in Pa., data shows

(link) https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/11/pa-election-2022-mail-ballot-rejection-analysis/?mc_cid=4bcc1594f2&mc_eid=3ab2f24ac3

Pennsylvania’s policy of rejecting undated and incorrectly dated absentee and mail ballots is more likely to impact voters from communities with larger nonwhite populations, a Votebeat and Spotlight PA analysis of data from three urban counties has found.

Earlier this month a deadlocked Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that undated and incorrectly dated mail ballots should not be counted in the Nov. 8 midterm election, the latest development in a years-long dispute over these flawed ballots. Under state law, a person who casts a mail ballot must sign and date a declaration on the outer envelope.

In reaction, some counties released lists of voters who had submitted these types of flawed ballots in an effort to have them rectify the error before the end of Election Day so that their vote would be counted.

- snip -

Oprah Means, a 35-year-old African-American mother of three from Duquesne, Allegheny County, was one such voter. Her ballot was rejected for having an incorrect date — defined by the state Supreme Court as falling outside Sept. 19 to Nov. 8 — and she could not recall what date she wrote that would have been disqualified. She said she was “not at all” surprised to hear there was a racial disparity among rejected ballots.

“It felt like it was done on purpose to me,” Means said, noting that her ballot had been submitted for weeks before she was informed, at 7:40 p.m. on Election Day, that there was an error.

- more at link -

Why isn't the USPS datestamp good enough?

My Thanksgiving family trip to Upstate New York

Hey my friends, I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. I was lucky to to be invited to a family reunion in upstate New York for 5 days. We rented a house near Lake George, so there was a lot of driving through the red counties of Central and Northeastern PA, as well as Central and Upstate NY.

It wasn't a bad drive, and I've done it many times. But the reason for my post is that I'm happy to report that I didn't see a single Chump flag or sign - anywhere! One ugly muscle car had a confederate flag displayed on the back window. One ugly bright-orange pickup truck had glue-on letters on the tailgate that said "F-U-C-K-B-I-D-E-N." Quite tacky and amateurishly done.

Just before we arrived home - driving through Westmoreland County - I saw an old Mastriano sign that hadn't been taken down. That was it!

Judges in Pa. can now dismiss charges against people 'incompetent' to stand trial, but flaws remain

(link) https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/11/pennsylvania-supreme-court-ruling-humphrey-competency/

HARRISBURG — The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has corrected a decades-old flaw in state law that left severely mentally ill people behind bars indefinitely, and highlighted lingering problems for the man at the center of the case, and others like him.

The court’s September ruling in Commonwealth v. Jquan Humphrey cleared the way for judges to dismiss charges against defendants who would never be deemed competent to participate in their own trial, a longstanding point of confusion in state law.

- snip -

Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act of 1976 protects people who may be “incompetent” to stand trial from participating in a legal process that they cannot understand. It requires the court to determine whether with treatment, those people can regain their competency and resume their case.

But the law, which legislators passed nearly 50 years ago and have not significantly updated, gives ambiguous instructions for what to do when someone is not competent and for varying reasons never will be. That lack of clarity creates special problems for people with intellectual disabilities, brain injuries, or cognitive conditions such as dementia.

Taken together, these issues with the law left people who have severe, incurable mental conditions effectively trapped behind bars, endlessly awaiting a trial they could never participate in.

- more at link -

It's a step in the right direction for mentally ill people unable to leave prison due to previous ruling of the Superior Court in 1988. Hopefully the state courts will take a more proactive role in preventing this injustice to the mentally ill incarcerated.

PPG Editorial: Impeachment of Philadelphia DA a shameful attack on democracy

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board, November 20, 2022
(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2022/11/20/krasner-philadelphia-criminal-justice-reform-impeachment/stories/202211160096

Members of the Pennsylvania House on Wednesday voted to impeach Philadelphia’s twice-elected district attorney, Larry Krasner. The 107-85 vote, almost entirely along party lines, is an unabashed and unprecedented attack by the General Assembly on the right of local communities to govern themselves.

Never mind the baloney from House Republicans expressing concern for the people of Philadelphia. Allowing the General Assembly to remove an elected local official, without proper cause, would set a horrible and illegitimate precedent, threatening the autonomy of local communities and disenfranchising their voters.

The constitutional standard for impeachment is high, and the House hasn’t come close to meeting it. Only twice in the last 200 years has the House impeached an elected official — a State Supreme Court Justice in 1994 for improper influence by a political supporter, and a county judge in 1811 for imprisoning people for wearing hats in court. Both cases met the constitutional grounds for impeachment: misbehavior in office.

“Misbehavior” means malfeasance, misconduct or corruption. There is none in Mr. Krasner’s office. Instead, the articles of impeachment blame Mr. Krasner’s reform measures for a two-year spike in gun violence, and allege he was derelict in his duty to protect citizens. No evidence, however, directly links Mr. Krasner’s policies with an increase in homicides that is affecting major cities nationwide, including Pittsburgh. More to the point, if “misbehavior” meant policies legislators don’t like, every elected official in Pennsylvania would be subject to the whims of the General Assembly.

“This is a complete abuse of the process,” Jane Roh, spokesperson for Mr. Krasner’s office, said this week.

- more at link -

Even the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is calling this Krasner impeachment a sham and an attack on democracy. Thank God/Goddess that the voters have seen fit to turn the House BLUE after 12 years of partisan abuse. This is no way to run a state that considers itself the cradle of democracy.

Luzerne County ran out of paper on Election Day. Now the district attorney is investigating.

(link) https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2022/11/pa-election-2022-luzerne-county-paper-shortage-da-investigation/

An Election Day paper shortage in one Pennsylvania county that led poll workers to turn away some voters is now under investigation.

The Luzerne County Board of Elections and Registration asked the district attorney Monday to look into why dozens of precincts ran out of ballot paper. The shortage led to voting delays at the affected polling places, voters being turned away, and an emergency court order to keep polls open until 10 p.m. — two hours after they usually close — to give voters who were previously denied access to the ballot a second chance.

One week later, the cause of the shortage is still unclear. At a meeting of the Board of Elections Monday night, board members offered no new details despite pleas from dozens of residents during a public comment period that lasted well over an hour.

“As a first-time judge of elections, I was appalled, disheartened, and embarrassed on Election Day,” said a woman who identified herself as the judge of elections at a precinct that ran out of paper. “Tell me how we ran out of paper for the polls? Someone definitely failed to do their job.”

Acting Director of Elections Beth Gilbert McBride was not present at the meeting, nor were any staff from the elections office, who normally attend. Gilbert McBride was put in charge of the election in August, shortly after the resignation of the previous director, Michael Susek, and one month after the county had hired her as deputy director.

- more at link -

I guess they have a new motto in Luzerne: If you can't stop people from voting, just stop printing the ballot paper.

Will an act of 'spite' by Pa. House Republicans cost hundreds of millions in fed transpo funds?

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/transportation/2022/11/18/pennsylvania-house-transportation-funding/stories/202211180085

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-1 on Thursday to approve tighter emission standards for the conventional oil and gas industry, but a House committee vote will delay the state’s implementation of the regulation and cause the state to miss a deadline set by the federal government.

The objection from the Republican members of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee triggers a 14-day review period, following the IRRC vote. Because that period won’t be over by the time the legislative session ends on Nov. 30, the review period will drag into 2023 when lawmakers return to the Capitol for the start of the next session.

That means the state stands to miss a Dec. 16 deadline set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Pennsylvania to beef up its air pollution regulations. The state Department of Transportation has estimated that it will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars if the federal government follows through and withholds transportation dollars over the missed deadline.

Gov. Tom Wolf blasted Republicans in the House for causing the delay. "It's simply a disgrace that House Republicans are jeopardizing road and bridge repairs by holding up the administration's efforts to make federally required updates," Mr. Wolf said.

"Because these regulations are required under the Clean Air Act, failure to submit them in final form to U.S. EPA by December 16, 2022, will result in EPA imposing non-discretionary sanctions, and the federal government would thus withhold nearly $1 billion of transportation funding — funding that cannot be recuperated. Sanctions can threaten a variety of projects, including highway expansion, new roadway construction, and many highway/bridge restoration and maintenance projects. This could result in some roads and bridges being closed or weight limited, longer commutes, longer ambulance response times, more wear and tear on Pennsylvanians’ cars, and Pennsylvanians’ federal gasoline tax dollars going to other states.”

- more at link -

None of these people should get a paycheck from the state legislature when they go home for the holidays.

Josh Shapiro will take office as governor with a mandate from Pennsylvania voters

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/election2022/2022/11/16/josh-shapiro-governor-pennsylvania-legislature/stories/202211150093

HARRISBURG — Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor-elect, will take office with a decisive mandate from voters, who overwhelmingly rejected a Republican drive to pare back abortion rights and voting laws in the premier battleground state.

The state's two-term attorney general, Mr. Shapiro scored a massive 14 percentage-point win over Republican rival Doug Mastriano in last week’s midterm election, smashed state campaign finance records and became the first candidate since 1966 to succeed a governor of the same party in Pennsylvania.

Democrats in the state also flipped a U.S. Senate seat — just the second time since the Civil War that the state elected two Democrats to the chamber — while winning a majority of the state's congressional seats and possibly even control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the election results showed voters' eagerness to protect abortion rights and the sanctity of elections from subversion by far-right Republicans who promoted former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims about voter fraud in his 2020 loss.

- more at link -

Shapiro has pledged to tighten up the voting laws in PA, something that needs to be done quickly with 2024 looming in the future. He has already signaled his position on abortion rights, public school funding and other issues during his campaign.

New Hampshire State House seat flips by one vote from Republican to Democrat following a recount

(link) https://www.rawstory.com/new-hampshire-state-house-seat-flips-by-one-vote-from-republican-to-democrat-following-a-recount/

A remarkable situation unfolded in New Hampshire on Monday night when an incumbent state representative lost his reelection bid for an eighth term by a single vote. Republican Larry Gagne of Hillsborough 16 House District, who was first elected in 2008, was defeated in a recount by Democrat Maxine Mosely, a retired school counselor and first-time candidate for political office. The final tally that was certified by Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) was 1,799 to 1,798. Hillborough 16's second seat was won by Republican Will Infantine.

- snip -

New Hampshire State Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said that "we are ecstatic to learn of Democratic candidate Maxine Mosley’s win in Manchester Ward 6 following today’s recount. With today being just the first day of several extremely tight races, we look forward to the remaining recounts. We appreciate the professionalism of the staff at the Secretary of State’s office and the State Archives for their work in this process, and to our recount team on the ground, whose careful review of ballots aided in today’s result.”

The Mosley-Gagne showdown was one of many close contests in the Granite State, where recounts are underway to decide a spate of knifes-edge races. "I think the turnout was tremendous," Mosley said. "I'm so proud of the citizens for coming out to vote."

Politics is indeed rooted locally and every ballot matters. But the drama in New Hampshire has developed into a microcosm of the GOP's lackluster performance in congressional elections. Mosley's upset victory "cuts the Republican majority in the 400-member House of Representatives to just four seats. If that margin stands, it would be the slimmest New Hampshire House majority in more than 80 years," New Hampshire Public Radio pointed out late Monday night."

- more at link -

Democrats continue to win all across the country!

What a difference a map makes: Both parties say redistricting had lots to do with Pa. House outcomes

Caption: Chairman Mark Nordenberg speaks during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission at the Capitol in Harrisburg in December. (photo credit: Associated Press)

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/election2022/2022/11/14/democratic-republican-parties-redistricting-pa-house-outcomes-mark-nordenberg/stories/202211140010

Sometime this week, Democrats may have control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the first time since 2010. And the person they may want to thank for that — more than Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro, U.S. Sen.-elect John Fetterman, former President Donald J. Trump or any of the other leading lights in this campaign cycle — is one Mark Nordenberg.

- snip -

But however those races wind up, we’re in for a huge shift from the 113-90 majority the Republicans held going into Election Day. People on both sides of the aisle were crediting the new House map, crafted after the 2020 Census by the five-member Legislative Reapportionment Commission.

That’s where Mr. Nordenberg, the chancellor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, comes in. Mr. Nordenberg did his civic duty last year as chairman of the commission, which actually meant he was the tie-breaking vote on maps that will be used through 2030 for state House and Senate seats.

Mr. Nordenberg’s stated goal — beside the mandate to recognize population shifts over the past decade — was to create House and Senate maps that better-reflect Pennsylvania’s political and demographic makeup.

- more at link -

Thank you Mark Nordenberg! Our newly reapportioned Congressional District map is finally a fair split that reflects our residents' political intentions.

How Summer Lee's historic win in Pa.'s 12th Congressional District reverberates beyond politics

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/election2022/2022/11/13/summer-lee-pennsylvania-12th-congressional-district/stories/202211120074

Summer Lee’s historic victory in Tuesday’s midterm election secured her a place in history as Pennsylvania’s first Black congresswoman, but experts and organizers say her win speaks to a broader movement that is focused on representation and beliefs rather than solely electability.

“I think this is a moment that Black voters have been waiting for for quite some time here in Pennsylvania — to know that our voices are being heard and that our needs will begin to get to be met,” said Kadida Kenner, executive director of the New Pennsylvania Project, an organization that focuses year-round on registering Pennsylvanians to vote.

Ms. Lee’s underdog campaign earned her a U.S. House seat last week, but it began in earnest in 2018 when she unseated a 10-year Democratic establishment incumbent in the primary for the Pennsylvania House 34th District.

In her campaign for Congress, she faced replacing the retiring Mike Doyle, a 15-term moderate Democrat, all while going up against a Republican candidate of the same name.

- more at link -

Congratulations and best wishes to our new Representative Summer Lee!

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