Emergency service personnel, elected officials and scores of others gathered in Harrisburg today to honor the life of Lieutenant Dennis DeVoe, a Harrisburg firefighter who died in a car accident last week as he headed to battle a fatal house fire. All of us here at Triad offer our sincere condolences to Lt. DeVoe’s family and friends.
Today is the Feast of St. Patrick, otherwise known here in America as the day we honor life of a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary by drinking too much and listening to the Dropkick Murphys. We Americans are weird. The fact that St. Patrick’s Day this year falls at the beginning of March Madness means that bar owners across the country are rejoicing a wee bit more than the rest of us, as they will see plenty of green
On Monday night, winter storm Stella reminded Pennsylvania that winter is not quite over yet, pounding the Commonwealth with snow and high winds, even causing an avalanche in Wyoming County. While navigating our Triad snow blower, we did our best Marlon Brando impression by screaming “Stella!” into the howling wind.
Shortly after Stella departed, a storm developed in Washington, D.C. as President Trump unveiled his inaugural budget, a tidy $1.5 trillion plan that, despite loud opposition, does pretty much exactly what he promised during the campaign. The big winners were military spending, the border wall (or fence, or moat or whatever it happens to be today) and school choice. The losers? Pretty much everyone else. There is indeed a new sheriff in town and he’s not exactly enamored with domestic spending.
While the programs that will be slashed under the new Trump budget are too numerous to list, the EPA and Department of Agriculture stand out as the losing-est of all losers, each facing a 25% cut in funding. If history is any guide, these cuts will simply be outsourced to the states, so our own DEP and Department of Agriculture are probably stomping on their respective panic buttons as we speak.
As the repeal of Obamacare lurches its way through Congress, our own Governor Wolf this week slammed the plan, calling it an age tax since older Americans are likely to pay as much as five times more for care than their kids will. Remember death panels? Expect “age tax” to be this year’s rhetorical equivalent.
Two separate federal judges this week threw buckets of cold water on Trump Travel Ban II, but this time around the President is vowing to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Paging Judge Neil Gorsuch; you have a call from a Mr. Mitch McConnell.
Three days from today, the state Department of Health will begin sifting through an estimated 900 applications for a piece of the medical marijuana pie. Would-be dispensers and growers will then spend the following 90 days on pins and needles as they await the final word on who will get the first round of licenses. The whole process is kind of like The Bachelor, but instead of a red rose they hand you a whole different kind of flower.
Now that the state budget hearings are safely in the rearview mirror, lawmakers are setting about the task of actually assembling a budget. This week, one of the top budgeteers in the State House weighed in on the big questions surrounding this year’s fiscal fandango. Will there be an early budget? Probably not. Will there be a need for new revenue? Probably. The second answer, we have learned, has a direct effect on the first. And off we go!
One thing lawmakers may want to keep in mind this budget season is that it is probably a good idea to get this one buttoned up and done as quickly as possible, for one simple reason: The Affordable Care Act repeal. Once that puppy goes away, the fiscal hit to states like Pennsylvania could be enormous. So, the more time lawmakers have to plan for the disaster that is likely to await them next year, the better.
Temple University this week became the latest shoe to drop over the growingly-controversial Philly soda tax, as they announced room and board increases that they say are directly related to the increased price of sugary drinks. The whispers of a soda tax pre-emption effort in the halls of Harrisburg are getting louder by the moment.
Before you know it, 2018 will be upon us and with it will come the re-election fight for Governor Tom Wolf. We learned today that at least one formidable challenger is sitting 2018 out, as Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman removed his name from the rumor mill today. That leaves only 79 “potential” opponents for Wolf to worry about.
Carnegie Mellon University this week informed us all that computers will eventually have vision, and that those computers will become part of our everyday lives sometime very soon. Now that we know that our microwave can be used to spy on us, computers that can see would be the next logical step, we suppose.
The Wolf Administration’s commitment to the Philadelphia Port is expected to create more than 7,000 new jobs, we learned this week. New cranes, bigger ships and more cargo are on the way for the City of Brotherly Love, putting the port on par with any east coast competitor, including New York. It is going to be HUGE, to borrow a phrase from the POTUS.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Rhinecliff, New York. If you think you had a tough time with winter storm Stella, check out what this Amtrak train did to a bunch of commuters standing on the platform. The moral here is that trains generally pay no mind to snow, folks. They just plow right through it, and you probably shouldn’t be there when they do.
That’s is what passes for news around here on a sunny and chilly Friday! Until next time around, wear your green, drink your Guinness, crank up the Dropkick Murphys and 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