Local school district ordered by judge to continue their mask mandate

local politics, Politics, state politics

Jada Urbaez, Staff

Since school districts have reopened, many parents and students have demonstrated and spoken out because they believe masks should not be worn in schools. More recently, COVID-19 cases have declined locally, and some people are becoming tired of taking precautions. Hence why Perkiomen Valley School District, located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, wanted to halt the mask mandate for their district. 

The school board voted at the beginning of 2022 to no longer require students to wear face coverings. Parents took this decision to court, arguing stopping the mandate would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Instated in 1990, this Act prohibits discrimination of the disabled and provides equal opportunity in public settings. Fighting to continue Perkiomen Valley’s mask mandate would ensure the disabled would be able to safely attend classes without complications or life-threatening risks. The plaintiffs, who were represented by Attorney Carmen De Gisi, claimed not wearing masks would put students who are immunocompromised or disabled at an unnecessary risk, which ultimately defies the 1990 Act. 

The opposing side argued that masks cause discomfort and difficulty for the children to learn the material taught in school. In addition, parents argue that some students have anxiety, and wearing masks exacerbates their anxious feelings. All in all, the parents who wish to cease the mask mandate argue they make students uncomfortable, cause an inconvenience and do more harm than good. The federal judge disagreed and ruled that the Perkiomen Valley School District must continue the mask mandate for students, faculty, and staff until further notice.

COVID-19 cases reached their all-time peak in Pennsylvania just a month ago, but have decreased expeditiously since then. On Jan. 8, 2022, Pennsylvania reported 33,650 new cases, which bumped the state’s seven-day average to 25,848. However, just about a month later, 2,794 new cases were reported on Feb. 6, which brought the weekly average to 6,207. This decrease in positive cases may cause other school boards to do what Perkiomen Valley did, but they also may get declined by a judge for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.Editor’s Note: Help stop the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, boosted, and tested.

Why neither party is supporting a candidate for the 2022 PA senate race

Politics, state politics

Aidan Tyksinski, staff

Header Image: Generals International

Why neither party is supporting a candidate for the 2022 PA senate race

While the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race is one of the most discussed midterm races in the nation, it seems that two major players in the race are willing to stay uninvolved for the time being. Both the Pennsylvania Republicans and Democrats are unwilling at this point to throw their support behind any candidate fighting for soon-to-be-former Senator Pat Toomey’s seat. While both parties have a good reason not to do so at the moment, some candidates need these nominations more than others. 

For the Democratic party, there are a couple of reasons that no candidate has support, the biggest being that the pool of candidates is currently too big. For any Democratic candidate to get a nomination, they need at least two-thirds support from the committee. When the committee held this vote over a week ago, there were four frontrunners: John Fetterman, Val Arkoosh, Connor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta. The number of frontrunners recently shrunk by one due to Arkoosh dropping out of the race late last week. 

Out of the three leading candidates, it seems that most of the Democratic Committee is torn between Fetterman and Lamb. Fetterman, the more progressive of the two, has gotten more donations than any other candidate in the party. However, it seems that many members of the committee feel that Fetterman’s message might not create a lot of turnouts in the very purple state, and view Lamb as a moderate whose message could swing the seat back under Democrats’ control. During the voting for the nomination, 159 members endorsed Lamb, 64 members endorsed Fetterman and Kenyatta got 49. A candidate must get 176 votes for the nomination.

For the Republicans, the reason for not picking a nomination is much simpler: there is currently no clear front-runner in the race. The two current front-runners, Dr. Mehmet Öz and David McCormick, both joined the race very recently and have no experience running a political campaign. With this seat as valuable as it is, the Pennsylvania Republican Committee seems to be playing it safe until after the primary, when there will be a clear candidate for the November election.As it stands, either McCormick or Öz could win the primary in May. Using their deep pockets, both candidates have created attack ads against each other and the Democratic party. Both have also accused each other of having ties to foreign countries, with McCormick also throwing around the idea that Öz’s ties in Hollywood will not make a good senator for Pennsylvania. The party is not the only main player staying silent on the race. Former President Trump, whose advisors say is paying close attention to the open seat, has been silent on the race ever since the candidate he supported, Sean Parnell, dropped out in November of last year. In the coming weeks and months, it will be interesting to see if more candidates fall out of the race, and which party will back a candidate first.

Pennsylvania joins at least twenty-five other states in raising the minimum wage by 2024

Politics, state politics

Jada Urbaez, Staff

Pennsylvania joins at least twenty-five other states as they all raise the minimum wage for state workers this year. Effective last Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, the minimum wage for Pennsylvania state workers increased to $15 per hour. 

Back in 2018, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf proposed that the minimum wage would increase annually by $.50, which would have been on track to pay workers $15 per hour by the year 2024. Pennsylvania has sped up the process and is two years early, considering it is only 2022 and the wage has increased tremendously. 

State workers will exclusively receive these benefits for the time being, not the general public. State workers include any individual that is employed by the Pennsylvania government such as workers at the Department of Motor Vehicles or other government services. 

The minimum wage for other workers remains at $7.25, which has not changed in 13 years. The last notable increase took place in 2008, when it raised from $6.25 per hour to $7.15 per hour. Then, in 2010, it went up by .$10, to where it is now at $7.25 per hour. Governor Wolf says that the standstill in the hourly pay rate is “an embarrassment” and plans to increase it drastically to $12 by July 1, following a $.50 raise annually. That is… if the majority Republican Pennsylvania General Assembly follows through with the governor’s goals for the state’s citizens. 

Pennsylvania currently sits at the 30th state in the United States in terms of the highest offered minimum wage. The federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 per hour, which is the current minimum wage not only in Pennsylvania but in other states including Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho. Two adults with no children’s poverty wage is $8.29 an hour, by comparison.

The recent discussions around the nation regarding the pros and cons of raising wages have caused much disagreement and back and forth amongst people. Many express that increasing pay rates would result in higher prices of goods and services, which could possibly lead to hyperinflation. Others think this is untrue, and providing workers with a liveable wage could mean raising income for workers so they could afford day-to-day expenses, be financially stable and stress-free, which, in their opinion, far outweighs the possibility of rapid inflation.

Breakdown of the Pennsylvania Senate race

Politics, state politics

Aidan Tyksinski, Staff

In less than 10 months’ time, the Pennsylvania state midterm elections will be upon us, and while this election may not be the most important election to some, it certainly will be the most symbolic of where Americans stand today politically at this time. The frontrunners to take former Senator Pat Toomey’s seat are a progressive from Reading, a physician from Montgomery County, a former Marine from Pittsburgh, a former TV-host-turned-politician and a politician-turned-billionaire hedge fund owner. On that note, let’s put a face to these candidates.

Democratic Candidates  


FT

John Fetterman

As the frontrunner for the 2022 Pennsylvania senate seat, Fetterman’s 6’9 size makes him seem more like a basketball player than a politician. He got his start in politics by becoming the mayor of Braddock, a small town outside of Pittsburgh. He then became Lieutenant Governor of PA, where his political status blossomed. During his time in this role, Fetterman pushed hard for LGBTQ+ equality and the legalization of marijuana. At one point in 2019, Fetterman went around to all the state’s 67 counties and created a survey that asked people their thoughts on marijuana’s legalization. According to his campaign website, Fetterman also supports a $15 minimum wage, a single-payer healthcare plan, clean energy and the Black Lives Matter movement.

TheDP

Val Arkoosh

Arkoosh has gotten the third-most donations for Democratic Candidates ($2.1 million) in this race. A physician and chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Arkoosh has campaigned to fix problems using a scientific approach. In her campaign message, Arkoosh specifically says she will fight climate change, help push for COVID-19 safety measures and support upholding Roe v. Wade. Specifically, Arkoosh wants to codify Roe v. Wade, which would let Congress protect a women’s right to choose instead of the Supreme Court. In fighting climate change, Arkoosh promises to end fracking and push more companies to use renewable energy. Arkoosh also wants to reform immigration into the United States, create a fairer justice system and pass what she refers to as common sense gun laws.

U.S. House of Representatives

Conor Lamb

Lamb, who has been labeled as a moderate by the national media, got the second-most donations thus far ($2.6 million). Lamb, a former marine, federal prosecutor and vice-chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee while in Congress, has talked about several key issues on his agenda if elected to the position. Lamb, like Fetterman, is a supporter of a $15 minimum wage and a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. He also, like Arkoosh, is running on a pro-choice platform. Lamb also wants to reform or eliminate the filibuster if he is elected and has taken a hard stance for Israel to defend itself from attacks by enemies.   

Republican Candidates


The Guardian

Dr. Oz

Mehmet Öz is known by most Americans as Dr. Oz, the former daytime television host turned politician. Oz, a heart surgeon who graduated from the local University of Pennsylvania, announced late last year that he was running for PA Senate, the first political campaign he has ever run. Oz’s main focus is on COVID-19 reform. On his website and in his campaign ads, Oz has stated that politicians got COVID-19 wrong and has been adamant that schools should not close due to the pandemic. Oz, like Conor Lamb, made it clear he supports Israel and has pushed for healthcare reform through the private sector. He is also against energy regulations, is pro-life and has stated on his website that he will protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.

Pa. Senate GOP primary fight over candidate's business record
NYPost

David McCormick

McCormick is the most recent candidate to announce the start of his campaign, making his announcement in the middle of January. McCormick, like Oz, has no experience of ever running a campaign, but he has much more political background than Oz. McCormick, a U.S. Army veteran who fought in the first Gulf War, had several roles in the Bush administration from 2005 to 2009 and was at one point the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs. He was considered for a couple of cabinet roles during the Trump administration, but never got the jobs. McCormick, who most recently was CEO of the biggest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates, has announced he is running his campaign against “wokeness, weakness and the radical left.”