Congressional Republicans this week unveiled their tax cut/reform package to the world, and the plan is, in a word, YUGE! There will be a chicken in every pot and a Lexus in every driveway when it is all said and done, if anything ever gets said or done, which is never a safe bet in a Congress that can’t even reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program without somehow screwing it up.
Our own congressional delegation gave the plan mixed reviews. It will probably shock you to learn that the responses fell along party lines, with Democrats being in the “meh” camp and the Republicans singing hosannas.
Elsewhere in the Federal City, Special Counsel Robert Mueller this week dropped the hammer on Paul Manafort and two of his Trump campaign cohorts. Manafort, for the uninformed, was either the brains behind the Trump victory or some nobody who hung around the campaign office for a few minutes each day delivering Dunkin Donuts.
Back here in the barrel of laughs that is your state government, more than 1,000 people signed up on the first day of enrollment for the state’s medical marijuana program. Some 999 of those folks have legitimate maladies that can be treated with medical cannabis, while one dude named Stan just wanted to know where he could buy some weed.
Members of the legislature’s Philadelphia delegation this week reacted with relief that Governor Wolf affixed his signature to the four-month-late revenue package, pointing to a few hard-fought victories for their fine city, including a long-sought strengthening of law against so-called stop-and-go liquor joints. Henceforth, those establishments will be known as stop-and-go-and-get-shut-down joints.
Speaking of Philly, Mayor Jim Kenney announced this week that he will seek to dissolve the School Reform Commission, with the city assuming control over the school district. He also announced that the city will find a way to pay for the schools, which should produce a few rip-roaring discussions within the walls of City Council. So, while this move is being applauded by advocates and elected officials, a word of caution: if you buy it, you own it.
A new law enacted this week will bring “performance-based budgeting” to Pennsylvania. We assume this means that all the departments and bureaus in state government will have to show that they are actually doing what they are supposed to be doing before we shake the money tree for them. Heretofore, the only performance that mattered in the process was the performance of the General Assembly in its duty to pass a budget and spending plan by June 30th. If you think that will change, you haven’t been in Pennsylvania long.
Pennsylvania’s top GOP lawmakers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to ice a lawsuit challenging the state’s 2010 redistricting plan. The decision could have a massive impact on how congressional seats are redrawn in Pennsylvania, and across the nation. Pennsylvania’s districts have been called the worst gerrymandered seats in the country, right up there with Wisconsin. That may or may not be the case, but if you’ll excuse us, we need to drive to Hazelton to meet with our congressman.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority took one upside the head from Auditor General Eugene DePasquale this week. In announcing his audit of the authority, DePasquale rattled off an impressive list of shortcomings covering everything from crippling debt to governance problems. Ratepayers in Pittsburgh, unfortunately, have heard this all before. They have grown weary of being told what the problems are and would sincerely appreciate it if someone would just fix them, thank you very much.
Now that gaming expansion is the law of the land in Pennsylvania, could a mini-casino or video gaming terminals be coming to your neighborhood? Well, unless you live near a truck stop, one of those answers in a firm No. And as for mini-casinos? That’s probably a no as well. There will only be ten of those, maximum, and it’s a pretty big state in case you haven’t driven across it in a while. Trust us, we do it all the time.
Free Wi-Fi is coming to a kiosk near you in the City of Philadelphia, it was announced this week. The kiosks will also have charging ports so that you no longer need to lug a portable charger around in your suit pocket, making it appear as though you are trying to smuggle bricks into the city. Or is that just us?
A lawsuit over Governor Wolf’s plan to borrow against state liquor revenues has been withdrawn, at least for now, as Wolf has announced that he MAY forgo that idea now that he has a revenue package in place. Or will he? Maybe yes, maybe no? Only the shadow knows!
There are a ton of judicial races on next week’s ballot, so you should spend the weekend familiarizing yourself with the candidates so that the 12 percent of the electorate that actually votes next Tuesday will do so in an informed manner.
If you were inclined to watch the Jets play the Bills on Thursday Night Football, you may have noticed that the pre-game coverage was brought to you by Lyft. You might also be interested in this Forbes piece about how Lyft is revolutionizing customer service. Isn’t it nice when a ride-sharing company values customer service? Yeah, we think so too. This has been a Triad Shameless Client Plug.
While we are on the Triad SCP train, we also thought you should know that our friends at Magellan Health have acquired Senior Whole Health. If you are not familiar with Magellan and the amazing work they do in Pennsylvania and across the nation, you should be. We are here to help.
In Our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Hawaii where a judge meted out an interesting punishment for a man who violated a Protection From Abuse order by calling and texting his ex-wife 144 times during a three-hour span. In addition to jail and fines, the judge ordered the man to write 140 nice things about his ex. The only thing that would have made this story better is if the man had to dress as Bart Simpson and write those 140 nice things on a chalkboard.
That’s what passes for news around here as we get ready to fall back this weekend! We will be back next week to enlighten you about the state of the state, but until then, 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