Tuesday was Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania, and tens of voters flocked to the polls. Oh well, it’s only democracy. We’re sure the Republic will be just fine if 1 in 5 eligible voters makes the decisions for everyone else. Really, 20%? You could get more people to attend a Yanni concert in Compton. For a quick wrap of a few key points from Tuesday, check out our analysis.
Mitt Romney walked away with a win in Pennsylvania, to the shock of no one (except perhaps Ron Paul), but failed to crack the 60% mark despite running essentially unopposed (yes, Ron Paul, we hear you already!). The Obama camp seized on this factoid and mocked Romney within nanoseconds of the polls closing, while the Romney camp recycled their prized Obama nugget about PA voters “clinging to religion and guns.” Praise the Lord; pass the ammunition.
And we also learned this week, thanks to Campaign and Elections Magazine, that our own Chester County is one of the top ten most crucial counties to win nationwide this fall. Memo to Chester County residents: y’all should either buy earplugs or just go ahead and move. You are about to be seriously annoyed.
Perhaps the biggest winner Tuesday night hasn’t been on the ballot in Pennsylvania since 1992. Former President Bill Clinton went two for two, endorsing eventual 12th CD winner Mark Critz and Democratic Attorney General candidate Kathleen Kane, who both overcame pretty big odds to win. The Clinton name still packs quite the wallop with PA Democratic Primary voters.
The state’s new Voter ID law got a trial run Tuesday, and a lot of newspapers reported on what impact it may have had, or if any problems arose. After digesting far too many of them, we came to this ironclad conclusion: the new Voter ID law will either cause big problems, or it won’t. That’s the type of analysis we know you’ve come to expect from us. Worth noting, however, is that Primary Day was probably not a good indication of what to expect in November, when we are fairly confident that more than 20% of voters will be schlepping to the polls.
Highmark has found an ally in its long-running battle with UPMC out in western Pennsylvania. SEIU HealthCare Pennsylvania is now weighing in, urging UPMC to come to the table and find an amicable resolution to the current stalemate. It remains to be seen whether or not UPMC is willing to listen when the state’s largest health care union decides to team up with their mortal adversary.
The Delaware River Basin Commission has had a moratorium on gas drilling within the watershed in place since 2009 while it wrestles with fracking water withdrawal guidelines. In the meantime, 69,000 written comments have been submitted to DRBC on the issue, representing two times the amount of people who voted in Tuesday’s Primary. The Marcellus Shale Coalition is, shall we say, less than amused with the delay.
We were interested to learn this week that a few lawmakers have decided to take the $35 a week food stamp challenge, $35 a week being the average benefit under the SNAP program. We’re sure it will be an eye-opening experience; we just hope they don’t have too much trouble choosing between rice and, well, rice. We’d also like to have a guest blog from one of these soon-to-be-svelte lawmakers, so if you know anyone who is interested in sharing their thoughts on the challenge, hit us up!
Governor Tom Corbett this week continued to defend his proposed state budget cuts during a swing through the state this week. The governor has been steadfast in his opinion that the state is broke, and therefore must continue to lop off large piles of cash. The opposition forces (and there are many, trust us), are beginning to rally around the call to forgo another drop in the Capital, Stock and Franchise Tax as a way to inject a little more lucre into the budget. The battle lines have indeed come into focus.
The Department of Agriculture this week got an earful from animal rights advocates for what those folks see as a general disregard for the state’s Dog Law, which many will remember was about as easy to pass through the General Assembly as a baseball-sized kidney stone. Pennsylvania’s Dog Law is one of the toughest in the nation, but some folks believe the department is ignoring the enforcement end of the deal. The last thing anyone needs is another Dog Law war; that much is clear.
Hey, did you ever dump your old prescription drugs down the commode? Well stop doing that. It’s bad for our waterways, and frankly, Pennsylvania’s Brown Trout do not need an unexpected dose of Plavix. This Saturday is another Drug Take-Back Day, and you can dispose of your old prescription drugs at supermarkets, churches of police stations near you. So keep the Xanax out of the toilet.
Staring down the barrel of a $218 million budget deficit, there is now a plan on the table to essentially dismantle the Philadelphia School District and start from scratch. Key elements in the plan are widespread closures (40 schools right off the bat), and a massive shift of students to charter schools. Also key to the plan will be the requisite bashing of teacher and school employee salaries, because what would a reform plan be without whacking those folks in the chops? Easiest way to “reform” your school? Lay off the bus driver. Works every time.
After a streak of relentlessly bleak news on the mass transit front, we interrupt our regularly scheduled bemoaning of the system to announce that 48 SEPTA employees are now each about $3 million richer, thanks to the fact that together they won $172 million in the Powerball drawing. Next stop: Easy Street!
Bartender, c’mon down here. One bourbon, one scotch, and one more shot at privatizing the state’s liquor stores, please! And put it on the Underhill’s tab! We got a sneak peek at the latest plan to get the state out of the liquor business, and the stakes are even higher. Now, 1,600 licenses will be sold, package reform is included, and the licenses will now be auctioned on a county-by-county basis. Everyone satisfied yet? Good. Make it one for my baby and one more for the road!
Former Harrisburg receiver David Unkovic, whose departure took nearly everyone by total shock, has lawyered up, we found out this week, as everyone now expects he’ll soon be in front of the Commonwealth Court to provide a bit of clarification on why the wheels fell off so abruptly. We’re sure that won’t be a newsworthy event at all. Move along; nothing to see here.
Oh, and Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson is now suing the attorney hired by City Council for damages related to the city’s bankruptcy appeal. Super. The only thing missing from this sordid affair thus far has been a lawsuit. That is, if you don’t count the first 1,200 or so lawsuits. If you are a lawyer anywhere in this Commonwealth, we advise you to move here immediately if you are short on clients.
An environmental advocacy group has released what it is calling a “plain language” version of Act 13, sort of a Shale Impact Fee Law for Dummies, we assume. For those who have an interest in the new drilling law but have a general distaste for all the “whereas”, “shall”, “may” and “whereupon” jazz, go check it out. Maybe they’ll make it into a short film.
York and Adams County will soon be home to natural gas refueling stations, mainly for fleets on public vehicles. However, if you happen to have a natural gas powered car or truck, you may partake as well. A word of caution, however: no matter how enticing that low, low fill-up price may look, do not try to fill up an internal combustion engine with natural gas.
Finally this week, the Department of Corrections announced that as many as 1,900 inmates could be out of the system today were it not for a rather clunky and inefficient process of paroling eligible inmates. At $35,000 per inmate, that is quite a large number of people hanging around, costing taxpayers scads of money for no earthly reason.
On the Triadvocate this week, we introduced a new segment called “Triad on the Threes” (without the weather and traffic on the fives), where we boil down our feature length video interviews into three minutes and three questions. Kind of like a movie trailer, if you will. Check out the first installment with David Patti, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council.
We also had Patti give us a look at next week’s PEG Dinner, which you can check out here.
That’s it for the Primary Week edition! Next week, the legislature returns for more madcap adventures, and we’ll be there to catch every moment of it! As usual, Facebook and Twitter are still easy ways to follow us, so get on it! And with that, we’re outta here like Vladimir!
From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!