We begin this week with a public service announcement. If you see anyone who is employed by the Senate Democratic Caucus of Pennsylvania, you may want to print out a hard copy of this memo and hand it to them. Some offshore cowards have deposited some nasty ransomware on their entire computer system, totally crippling their IT services. So far, Senate leaders are mum as to what exactly the ransom demand is. Perhaps the head of Alfredo Garcia?
President Donald Trump this week accused former President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones in Trump Tower during the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump also went on to say he is reasonably sure that Obama also instructed the Secret Service to tail Trump wherever he goes.
There was good news on the job front for the President, however, as the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in his first full month in office. With unemployment ticking down to 4.7 per cent, the economy is humming along at a pretty huge clip, and growing bigly!
The big news out of the freshly-drained swamp that is the U.S. Capitol was the unveiling of the GOP’s legislation to execute the long-awaited repeal and replace of Obamacare. You would be less than shocked to learn that Governor Tom Wolf is not thrilled with the final product. But you might be a bit more shocked to learn that the state’s hospital and health systems are also shaking in their paper booties.
While U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is spending some time drilling into the details of the 66-page bill, his counterpart Senator Bob Casey is not exactly holding his fire. A day after the bill was unveiled, Casey launched a fiery Tweetstorm (is there any other kind?) excoriating the bill and laying out what each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties stand to lose if the plan becomes law. The Twitter game is strong in this one.
Back here in comparatively quiet Pennsylvania, the General Assembly’s state budget hearings continued, with cabinet officials slogging their way through endless questions about how much loot they are asking for, and why. It is sort of akin to your 16-year-old asking for money on the way out the door on a Friday. “And exactly what will you do with this money, young lady? Be sure to bring back my change!” Once again, the age-old conversation surfaced about why we use $800 million from the fund that is supposed to pay for roads and bridges to instead pay for the State Police. And like every other year, everyone acknowledged it is a problem but nobody has a solution.
The state’s Auditor General this week weighed in with an idea on how to help balance our chronically imbalanced budget: legalize marijuana. General Eugene DePasquale estimates that legalization (and the subsequent taxation) of the kind bud could generate $200 million in revenue and also said it is time for PA to “get on the marijuana train” which we assume we cannot catch at 30th Street Station in Philly.
The response from the second floor of the main capitol building was less than enthusiastic, as Governor Wolf poured some cold bong water on the whole idea. Not so fast there, General, said the governor. Let’s try to get the whole medical marijuana thing done correctly first.
Lawmakers also heard the fiscal plight of the folks at the Department of Environmental Protection, an agency that has been decimated by years of underfunding. Seems everyone wants clean air and water, but nobody is terribly interested in paying for it. It’s cool, we are sure that eventually the air and water will learn how to clean itself. We’ve seen how well that works for lead pipes.
Governor Wolf was out on the hustings (we love us some hustings) this week, touting his plan to narrow this year’s budget gap by closing the dreaded Delaware Loophole, whereby some of the state’s largest companies forego (we are being kind) paying taxes by opening up a P.O. Box in Delaware. Wolf is also renaming the tax the Delaware Dodge, just because it is way catchier.
The State House and Senate gambling overseers this week held a hearing on gaming expansion, and pretty much the whole four-and-a half hours was consumed by testimony about online gaming, which is already happening illegally all over the state. At long last, lawmakers seem ready to being this $100 million gift horse into the stable.
The state held its first-ever liquor license auction last week and the big winners were Giant Foods and Sheetz, for those of you playing at home. Pennsylvania is moving ever so close to normalcy when it comes to where you can buy a six-pack, which is right next to the pretzels and Utz potato chips.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney this week gave his second budget address, and as of this writing, nobody hated it. Weird things are afoot in Philly, folks. Next thing you know, the Phillies won’t be getting booed by mid-June.
Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes to our pals at Pocono Raceway, as they prepare to do softball battle with their rivals from Dover Speedway on May 5th. This year’s charity game will take place in the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, so make sure you get your tickets to see Pocono CEO Brandon Igdalsky hit a few moon shots into the cheap seats. You might also see some random dudes named Truex, Jr. and Kenseth. Whoever they are.
In our We Can’t Make This Up this week, we take you to western Pennsylvania where some enterprising thieves stole some scrap metal. O.K., they stole a lot of scrap metal. They stole an entire bridge.
That’s what passes for news around here as Daylight Savings comes to an end, just in time for some snow and the return of the state legislature to Harrisburg. Oh, the fun we will have! From all of us here at Triad World HQ, have a great weekend!
The Triadvocate is a publication of Triad Strategies, LLC, a bipartisan lobbying, public affairs, strategic communications, grassroots advocacy, issue management consulting firm located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh