Earlier today, the United States Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch for a spot on the Supreme Court. The confirmation was the culmination of a wild week that saw a good old-fashioned filibuster by the Democrats, only to watch the GOP majority change the rules (it is known as the nuclear option, if you’ve been living under a rock.) Both sides of the aisle claimed the high ground during the whole kerfuffle when in fact neither side has entirely clean hands on this one. Simply put, the “cool saucer” known as the U.S. Senate just got thrown in the microwave.
Faced with his first real international crisis, President Donald Trump last night rained down a few dozen Tomahawk missiles on Syria in response to that country’s chemical weapons attack on its own citizens. If Syrian President Assad was wondering how Trump would react to his regime’s brutality, this was a pretty clear answer.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence spent the week playing dealmaker as he attempted to put the pieces of the failed Obamacare repeal back together again. No word yet on whether or not he has mastered the art of jamming square pegs into round holes.
Speaking of Obamacare, Triad’s own Tony May took fingers to keyboard this week and gave us his thoughts on the “placebo effect” as it related to the great health care debate. If you haven’t read it yet, get to it, people.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey this week also held a town hall meeting, albeit by phone. During the call, Toomey explained the reason he supported the so-called nuclear option to confirm Judge Gorsuch, which made half the callers very happy and the other half of the callers smack themselves with their own smartphones.
In Harrisburg this week, the State House passed its own version of the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget along party lines. The plan is similar to what Governor Tom Wolf laid out in February, but a bit more austere on the spend side of the ledger. Think of it as the Wolf plan thrown into the dryer for an hour or so.
Governor Tom Wolf reacted to the bill’s passage by lambasting the Republicans, calling the budget an affront to humanity. Just kidding! He said it was a good starting point. See? We told you hope is springing.
One state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania, setting up a showdown with Governor Wolf who very much opposes that idea. If you were looking for something that could throw the state budget debate directly off the rails and into the nearest ditch, this would be your legislation.
Philly’s sugary drink tax was in court this week, as an appellate panel heard arguments from both sides as to why it is or is not an unfair, job-crushing levy. Plenty of eyes are affixed on this outcome as the General Assembly sits in Harrisburg, warming up in the bullpen and waiting for the call.
A bill that would allow tablet-style gaming in airports flew out of the House this week (see what we did there?) kick-starting the debate on expanded gaming in Pennsylvania, which is a key component to balancing whatever budget finally emerges from the murky depths. Next up is the State Senate, a body that assuredly has its own ideas on the subject.
The Wolf Administration this week signaled that they intend to use their power to claw back state grant money to organizations who fail to hit the job creation numbers they promised upon application. So be careful when you walk into DCED and ask them for $5 million dollars to open an ice cream shop that will employ 6,000 people. Team Wolf will also use its new claws to hold job training and apprentice programs’ feet to the same proverbial fire.
If you were wondering how many applications the state has received for the first round of medical marijuana licenses, you need something better to do with your spare time. Kidding, but regardless, you will not be finding out the answer to that question soon. The state is staying mum as it sifts through a mountain of paperwork. Why a “mountain of paperwork” you ask? If you haven’t seen the size/length of one of these applications, take a gander. The U.S. Tax Code is smaller by comparison.
The magazine Livability has ranked Pittsburgh as the 19th-most livable city of its size in the nation. Topping the list was, inexplicably, Rochester, Minnesota. Who on God’s green earth would choose to live in Minnesota? Translation: Them jags at that magazine don’t know what they are tahlkin abaht.
According to some random thing we saw on Twitter, today is International Beer Day (also known as “days that end in ‘y’ at Triad), so we thought we would give you a link to our good friend Sara Bozich’s “What’s on Tap” site. Have a cold one for us!
The previous paragraph dovetails nicely into our We Can’t Make This Up segment, where this week a central Pennsylvania man was arrested for drunk driving while wearing a – wait for it – “Drunk Lives Matter” t-shirt. The mug shot is, in a word, glorious.
And that is what passes for news round here as the General Assembly decamps for a short break, and we get to catch up on everything we missed while they were here. Be sure to come back and see us again next week, we will bring the cold ones. From all of us at Triad, 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