State House GOP Blocks Gun Ban, Switches to Amendment

PA Headlines 6/22/21

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — AP is reporting… State House Republicans blocked a proposal to prevent those ages 18 to 21 from possessing assault-style rifles on Tuesday by completely changing the bill into a constitutional amendment to allow anyone to carry concealed guns.  It was the second week in a row that Republicans in the Judiciary Committee used their majority to defeat Democratic proposals to address the country’s gun violence plague.  The bill would have prevented those under age 21 from purchasing, possessing or transporting the types of weapons that have often been used to kill and wound people in the mass shootings that have become an epidemic in the United States.

So-called “constitutional carry” has wide support among the Legislature’s Republicans, but a bill to allow it was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in December.  Rep. Joe Hohenstein, D-Philadelphia, called the unfettered right to bear arms a myth that leads to the type of violence seen in the Wild West.  “We can say all we want about how guns will make certain people safer, they also make a whole lot of other people less safe,” he said during the brief hearing in the Capitol. Violence is occurring with legally purchased guns, he noted. “It’s legal purchases of firearms that are turning into the mass shootings that we see.”


The vote was nearly on party lines, with only one Republican — from the Philadelphia suburbs — crossing lines to vote against it.  Democrats have turned to discharge resolutions, a parliamentary maneuver, in an effort to get gun violence bills out of Judiciary, where Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, has prevented them from advancing.  Last week, the committee voted to ask the speaker to send four other gun bills to another committee, effectively stopping action on proposals regarding safe gun storage, an assault weapons ban, a red flag bill and a measure to give local governments power to enact their own protections.


“This isn’t the way to legislate,” Rep. Tim Briggs of Montgomery County, the ranking Democrat on Judiciary, said Tuesday. “We shouldn’t have to do discharge resolutions on bills that are 70, 80% popular across the commonwealth.”  All Republicans but one on the committee also voted for a proposal to amend the state constitution to give the General Assembly the power to decide the rules about where civil lawsuits can be filed.  Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Allegheny, said lawmakers “should not be controlling the judiciary through constitutional amendment when it comes to them setting their own rules about how cases proceed.”  An effort by Briggs to require a public hearing on the measure was also defeated by committee Republicans, who had virtually nothing to say about either bill.


(WHTM/AP) — The US House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol heard from elections workers and local officials who warded off former President Donald Trump’s pressure to overturn the 2020 presidential election on Tuesday.  It was revealed through Josh Roselman, investigative council, during this hearing that Bryan Cutler, the Republican Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, received daily voicemails from Trump’s lawyers in the last week of November 2020 in relation to how Pennsylvania’s votes turned out in the general election.

“Mr. Speaker, this is Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis. We’re calling you together because we’d like to discuss, obviously the election,” Giuliani said in a Nov. 26, 2020 voicemail.


“Hello Mr. Speaker, this is Jenna Ellis, and I’m here with Mayor Giuliani,” Ellis said in a Nov. 27, 2020 voicemail.  “Hey Bryan, it’s Rudy, I really have something important to call to your attention, that I think really changes things,” Giuliani said in a Nov. 28, 2020 voicemail.  According to Roselman, Rep. Cutler found the outreach by both lawyers to be inappropriate and asked his lawyers to request that Giuliani stop calling him. However, Giuliani continued to call.  Then, in December, Steve Bannon, a former Trump strategist, announced a protest to take place outside of Cutler’s home and district office to “let him know what we think about him.”  Rep. Cutler released a statement on Tuesday afternoon regarding the Jan. 6 committee interview.



“As I’ve confirmed previously, I was in contact with representatives of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the events leading up to Jan. 6. I was interviewed on two separate occasions in recent months. I was not contacted ahead of today’s proceedings or made aware of what portions of my interview would be included in the public proceedings. As the committee’s investigation is still ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to provide any additional comments about my testimony at this time.”  The public hearing, the fourth by the panel this month, stemmed from its yearlong investigation into Trump’s unprecedented attempt to remain in power, a sprawling scheme that the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee has likened to an “attempted coup.”


Tuesday’s focus reviewed how Trump was repeatedly told his pressure campaign could potentially cause violence against the local officials and their families but pursued it anyway, according to a committee aide. And it underscored that fallout from Trump’s lies continues, with election officers facing ongoing public harassment and political challengers trying to take over their jobs.  The select committee also aimed to untangle the elaborate “fake electors” scheme that sought to have representatives in as many as seven battlegrounds — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Mexico — sign certificates falsely stating that Trump, not Biden, had won their states.


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The new federal courthouse in Harrisburg will be named after longtime local judge Sylvia Rambo.  Rambo, who is now 86 years old, is still on the job. And there will be a ceremony on June 22 to honor her accomplishments.  “I came from a broken home. I was first person in my family to even get a college education,” said Rambo. However, she wasn’t just the first person in her family to pursue higher education.  She was also the first woman chief public defender, the first woman judge in Cumberland County, the first woman federal judge for Pennsylvania’s middle district, the first chief justice for Pennsylvania’s middle district, and now the first woman in Pennsylvania to have a courthouse named after her.


“I’m still in shock, don’t know how to deal with it. At my age I never anticipated anything like this would ever happen,” added Rambo.  Rambo was appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1979, the same year of the Three Mile Island incident. She served as the main judge on 20 years of lawsuits that followed the partial meltdown, and mostly ruled against the claims of personal injury from the fallout.  “There was insufficient evidence to show anybody to prove injury from the radiation and there are still people to this day who are very upset with that,” said Rambo.  Rambo also shared her concerns with how politicized courtrooms have become, leading to a mistrust in the judicial system.


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