Changing the Subject Doesn’t Make Payday Lending a Better Idea

In legislative hearings last month, proponents of a bill to legalize high-interest payday loans tried to change the subject and questioned the motives of some of their constituents. But these attempts don’t alter the fact that allowing payday lending is a bad idea. 

Late-Morning Must Reads: Well We're Living Here in Allentown So Call Me Maybe

Since I attended the 82nd annual Gridiron show last night, I'm both in a good mood and have the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association's version of Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe (<--not them) in my head this morning. 

Court Ruling an Acknowledgement of Flaws in Voter ID Implementation

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A Commonwealth Court ruling today has halted enforcement of Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law in the November election. Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, put out this statement on the decision:

The court’s decision is welcome news and an acknowledgement that the implementation of Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law has been inadequate and has needlessly put the voting rights of many Pennsylvanians at risk. The decision allows voters, troubled over the hardship involved in obtaining an ID, to rest easier tonight.

This decision is an important but temporary fix. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has documented persistent and widespread confusion over this law among PennDOT staff and voters seeking IDs. The commonwealth must address these problems and demonstrate it is capable of constructing a clear system that gets eligible voters the ID they will need. If it cannot do so, the commonwealth must reconsider the law altogether.

You can read the center's most recent report on flaws in the commonwealth's implementation of voter ID.

Morning Must Reads: We Are Better Than This?

Public policy in Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the Great Recession does not reflect well on the commonwealth.

Over the weekend, the Harrisburg Patriot-News detailed a new Department of Public Welfare policy to shift more of the cost of caring for intellectually disabled children onto their parents. 

Pennsylvania Faces a Shortage of Skilled Parrots

The economist J.R. McCulloch once quipped that to pass for an economist, a parrot need only learn the phrase: “supply and demand, supply and demand.” In many cases, explaining trends in the economy often comes down to understanding supply and demand. 

Must Watch: MSNBC Highlights Voter ID Confusion in PA

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Last week, we told you about a new Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center report on flaws in the state's implementation of the Voter ID Law. On Saturday, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry highlighted the report in a segment on voter ID in Pennsylvania. Watch the short clip below. If you're craving more, click on the video to link to a longer 12-minute segment on voter ID laws across the country.

Third and State This Week: Confusion About Voter ID, Payday Lending in the Senate and Poverty-wage Jobs

This week at Third and State, we blogged about a new report on the Voter ID Law, a bill to legalize high-interest payday lending now before the state Senate, poverty-wage jobs in Pennsylvania, and much more!

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

  • On voter ID, Sharon Ward blogged about a new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center on confusion surrounding the new law among PennDOT staff and voters alike. You can check out PBPC's full report here.
  • On payday lending, Mark Price wrote about legislation before the Senate to legalize payday loans with annual interest rates of 369%. He also explained that the writer of a letter to the editor in the Patriot-News supportive of the bill forgot to mention her group represents payday lenders.
  • On economic development, Mark Price wrote about local incentives in a Tennessee town intended to lure web developers.
  • On poverty, Mark Price reported that about 24% of Pennsylvania workers earned poverty wages in 2011.
  • On monetary policy, Mark Price highlighted two views on what the Federal Reserve can do to boost the economy. 
  • On education, Mark Price shared an Allentown Morning Call column offering a midterm report card on Governor Corbett's education policies.
  • And in a Friday Funny, we bring you an article by the satirical newspaper The Onion on how voter suppression in Pennsylvania isn't as fun as it used to be. 

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Friday Funny: "I Suppressed a Vote Today"

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The OnionBefore you head out for the weekend, we pass on a little Friday Funny from The OnionWith Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law in the news this week, it seems only appropriate to share this fake story about a Pennsylvania elections official lamenting that the vote he just suppressed may not even make a difference:

“Obama’s going to win here no matter who I disenfranchise, so what’s the point?” said [fake elections official Donald] Tobin, adding that if he lived in a true swing state like Florida or Ohio, his vote suppression might actually count for something. “Honestly, what’s it say about our electoral system when, even if I exercise my right to turn an elderly or enfeebled U.S. citizen away because he doesn’t have a driver’s license, it basically means nothing. That’s not democracy.” Though he was clearly disappointed, Tobin decided he would place an “I Suppressed a Vote Today” sticker on his jacket collar, anyway.

Morning Must Reads: Thank You for Smoking!

Right there, looking into Joey's eyes, it all came back in a rush. Why I do what I do. Defending the defenseless, protecting the disenfranchised corporations that have been abandoned by their very own consumers: the logger, the sweatshop foreman, the oil driller, the land mine developer, the baby seal poacher...

Confused About Voter ID? You’re Not Alone

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The eyes of the nation are truly turned to Pennsylvania as the ACLU is back in court today challenging Pennsylvania’s strictest-in-the-nation Voter ID Law. The Commonwealth Court is hearing evidence to determine whether the new Department of State voter ID will do the trick to ensure that anyone who needs an ID can get one, for free, in time to vote in November. If the state fails to make that case, the judge could issue an injunction to prevent the law from taking effect.

Early evidence seems to indicate that could happen. As Capitolwire.com has reported (subscription), Judge Simpson indicated Tuesday he will consider an injunction and has asked lawyers to be prepared to provide input on its scope and force. 

On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center released a report on this topic exactly. The report, Moving Target: Pennsylvania’s Flawed Implementation of the Voter ID Law, asks the question: "How is PennDOT handling the new Department of State ID?" The answer, in layman’s terms, is simple: Not so good.

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