Friday Happy Hour: Flying Snake Edition

Flying snake

The trade war between the United States and China jumped up a notch this week, as the Chinese announced a new round of tariffs in response to President Trump’s round of tariffs and round and round we go until, we presume, Wall Street gets dizzy, falls off the ride and throws up.   

Jumpin’ Joe Biden this week announced his campaign for president will be headquartered in Philadelphia, as the former Veep makes it pretty damned clear what state he values the most in 2020.  Did you know Biden originally hails from Scranton? Of course you did, because you’ve heard it 78 million times. 

But the truly earth-shattering, game-changing announcements on the Democratic race for the presidential nomination came this week, with BOTH Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announcing they are in it to win it. The response from registered Democrats was “Who?” and “For what God-awful reason?” respectively. 

Not to be outdone in the Great Courtship of the Keystone State, both President Trump and current Veep Mike Pence plan to visit Pennsylvania in the next few weeks. Get used to it, people. By the time it’s all over you may wish to consider moving to Steve Bullock’s Montana.   

While Alabama dominated the national headlines this week over its shiny new abortion law, Pennsylvania wasn’t far behind in the rearview mirror. Lawmakers this week again passed a Down syndrome abortion ban that has zero chance of ever becoming law as long as Gov. Tom Wolf happens to sit in the big office at 225 Main Capitol. So yeah, message received, let’s get back to business.   

One lawmaker this week let his colleagues in the House know that the battle to save the state’s nuclear industry ain’t over ‘til its over, Jack. Despite a lack of legislative action that doomed Three Mile Island, said lawmaker pointed out that there are still eight other reactors in the state, pumping out zero-carbon electricity. 

Governor Wolf summoned municipal leaders from hither, thither and yon this week to tout his RestorePA plan, which if enacted would hypercharge infrastructure spending in Pennsylvania. The municipal officials reminded all of us that infrastructure needs don’t see party affiliation; they just continue to destroy local budgets until somebody does something.   

Thursday was the opening battle scene in the war between state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and UPMC over the general’s lawsuit, with the Supreme Court hearing arguments for and against. It may not have been Game of Thrones, but the stakes are pretty high for the future of health care in western Pennsylvania. There were also no dragons, which was disappointing.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pumped a million bucks into the re-election effort of Philly Mayor Jim Kenney, we learned this week. There goes that damned soda industry again, trying to buy elections! Oh, wait…

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman this week brought his legal weed listening tour to Allegheny County, where an informal poll of the room showed the following score: anti-legalization: one, pro-legalization: the entire rest of the room.

If you enjoy speeding on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philly, we hope you also enjoy costly speeding tickets.  A recent change in state law allows for enforcement cameras on that often-deadly road, so scofflaws take note: stop scoffing at the law.   

A bipartisan pair of state lawmakers this week unveiled a new plan to jump-start manufacturing in the Age of Shale. The tax incentive plan looks a lot like the one that lured Royal Dutch Shell to southwestern Pennsylvania, so who knows? Maybe there is a whole box of crackers in our future. 

Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes out to our friends at Pocono Raceway, who once again brought NASCAR’s best and brightest drivers to the streets of Philadelphia for the annual Philly Takeover!  If you were in Center City on Wednesday, we are quite sure you heard it! 

In Triad Strategies news this week, our own Yvonne Roberts was honored by our friends at the Philadelphia Tribune at their annual Women of Achievement lunch. Congratulations to Yvonne on a well-deserved honor! 

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Oklahoma, where a man who simply tried to open his front door was bitten in the face by a flying snake. In totally unrelated news, we have removed our front door, covered it with bricks and can now enter our house only through the garage where our pet mongoose now lives. 

That’s what passes for news around here as we anxiously await the Primary Election next Tuesday.  We will be back with a wrap-up of everything notable next week, shot through our usual prism of weirdness.  Until then, have a great weekend!  


Spring Intern Alexis S. Anderson Reflects on Her Time at Triad

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I had the opportunity to intern at Triad Strategies full-time for the spring semester of my junior year at Temple University through its Capitol Semester Program. I knew that I wanted to see lobbying firsthand, but I got to see so much more during my time here. I knew very little about Pennsylvania state politics when I first arrived in Harrisburg (as I hail from our fair New Jersey), but thanks to the wide range of clients Triad works with, I was able to familiarize myself with the full gamut of policy issues affecting the state.

My daily tasks included bill tracking, attending committee hearings, joining client meetings, conducting research projects, and even attending a few political fundraisers. My colleagues at Triad introduced me to countless politicos and made sure I was as involved in the political process as possible. Roy Wells, on top of being Triad’s president and managing partner, is an instructor for the Capitol Semester Program, so I was able to learn even more about state politics and political culture from his course.

020D11E1-BAD0-40D4-ABE1-48B7C29E73A4-2699-000000A6D550C5C2My time here wasn’t all work and no play, though. My very first week, Olivia Edwards took me to Rep.Gene DiGirolamo’s office to watch Governor Wolf’s inauguration with a handful of other representatives, then she and I went to the inaugural reception that night! The team allowed me to experience as much as I could while I was here, including giving me time off to attend the state-related universities’ Appropriations Committee hearing with some of my classmates, where we met Temple President Richard Englert and Sen. Sharif Street. The other program interns and I ate with President Englert and Temple’s government affairs team afterward, thanks to Olivia encouraging me to ask the president to lunch.

Later in the semester, we interns had the opportunity to sit down with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. He was incredibly down-to-earth, and we discussed a range of issues from marijuana legalization to criminal justice reform. And just when I thought I’d met all the political stars I could, Roy introduced me to Gov. Tom Wolf himself before this year’s Gridiron dinner! With that, I officially checked off the last box on my Harrisburg bucket list.

IMG_7788This was such an incredible experience, and everyone at Triad was endlessly supportive and trusted me with serious work. I’ve certainly grown as a professional because of this internship. I’m more confident, a stronger networker and a more strategic thinker. I’ll be returning to Philadelphia for my senior year this fall and plan on attending law school once I graduate. What I learned about advocating a policy position, client objective, and winning political message will stick with me for years to come.

I could not be more grateful to my Triad family for supporting me and for all that the family helped me achieve. On today, my last day with the team, I just have to say that I miss you already, and I’ll make certain we meet again soon!

 

 


Friday Happy Hour: Gator-Aid Edition

Baby gatorLet’s do this in chronological order this week. Monday was a busy day at the Capitol. Second Amendment aficionados descended upon our seat of government for their annual rally, reminding lawmakers that there’s a sizeable chunk of the PA population that supports the right to bear arms. In case they had forgotten since last year’s rally, and the one before, and the one before that…

Then, government reform activists disrupted a House session, chanting “stop taking bribes” and showering the House floor with actual dollar bills from the gallery several stories above. No immediate word on whether the demonstration must be reported as a gift.

Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati revived his beef about ideological extremes driving primary elections, asserting that allowing independent voters to participate in nominating candidates in the party of their choice just might change that. His bill has received a hearing in the Senate State Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Folmer, who also thinks it could be a good idea. Hey, at this point, we’ll try anything.

There was good news this week for members of the PA National Guard, who would be entitled to scholarships to attend any of the 14 schools in the State System of Higher Education under legislation moving forward in both legislative chambers and supported by Gov. Tom Wolf. The measure would cost $2.7 million per year and is believed to be the first program of its kind. Now that’s what we call a cool way to thank soldiers for their service.

Also receiving some good news were PA public transportation agencies, who got word that the bond market from which the Turnpike borrows money to give to public transportation appears to be “favorable” following the dismissal of a lawsuit by independent truckers. This would enable the Turnpike to resume borrowing and making its annual public transportation payments of $450 million to PennDOT, although as regular readers are aware (on account of we repeat it just about every week), said payments will drop to only $50 million in 2022, creating the fiscal cliff we keep yammering on about.

The Anthracite Coal Region became the latest venue for Governor Wolf to tout his Restore Pennsylvania plan to help address critical infrastructure issues, such as blight, flooding, brownfields and the heartbreak of psoriasis. OK, we were just kidding about that last thing.

Pew Charitable Trusts, digging through U.S. Census data, posits that loosening voter access laws and passion-inducing issues such as marijuana and Medicaid expansion combined to ratchet up voter turnout in last year’s mid-term elections. Nationally, turnout jumped 12 points from 2014. Here’s more for that small but respected reader demo that likes to get down into the weeds on this stuff.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman got a bit of a surprise this week when he took his legal adult marijuana listening tour to Tunkhannock and, asking for the customary show of hands on where people stood on the issue, found that a majority of those present were against it. Until then, he noted, 65 to 70 percent of those coming to these events have said they support legalization.

Crab cake lovers are happy this week, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved thousands of additional H-2B visas for foreign workers who support the crab industry. And there will be plenty of work to go around, as the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population appears to be rebounding.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 41 of his counterparts are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to do something about the proliferation of those darn robocalls that use fake phone numbers as their caller ID. The latest scam? The one-ring-and-hang-up call in the middle of the night, inducing the resident to call the number back in case it was a friend or family member in trouble.

Exelon announced it will close the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in September, since sponsors of industry-saving legislation have not yet been able to muster enough support. That will leave six other generating units in Pennsylvania, which will eventually face the same kind of financial challenges unless there are public policy changes that set a market value for carbon-free electricity.

Leaders in both parties of the House came together in a rare and welcome bipartisan attempt to dial down the recent episodes of partisan outrage. There have been multiple instances lately of demanding apologies, resignations and criminal investigations. Can’t we all just get along?

And in that vein, Governor Wolf has declared May 23 to be “143 Day” in Pennsylvania, a nod to the late Fred Rogers, who used the 143 reference as code for “I love you” on his iconic TV show. The digits correspond with the number of letters in each word of that three-word phrase.

This week’s Shameless Client Plug goes out to the PA Highway Information Association, whose president, Jamie Van Buren, penned an op-ed article suggesting how Pennsylvania might go about providing sufficient funding for transportation without raising taxes.

This week’s We Can’t Make This Up feature takes us to Punta Gorda, FL, where a man and his female passenger were stopped by county sheriff’s deputies for running a stop sign. They were found to possess a bag of turtles, and when asked whether they had anything else authorities needed to know about, the woman proceeded to pull a baby alligator out of her yoga pants, thus avoiding a potentially disastrous pat down. Fish and Wildlife authorities were summoned and cited the couple for violating reptile bag limits.

And that’s what passes for news around these parts, boys and girls! We’ll be back next week with more of the same! Until then, be sure to obey those traffic laws when tooling around Punta Gorda with a gator in your drawers!


Friday Happy Hour: Schools Out Edition

Schools out

 

We pause this morning to remember actor Peter Mayhew, who died today at the age of 74. Mayhew played the role of the most famous Wookie in the galaxy, Chewbacca. Rest easy, Chewie. You saved the princess. 

President Trump, this week, donned his deal-making hat and agreed in principle (that’s a big caveat, people) to a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The problem is, he did the deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, which immediately threw his GOP base into a state of abject panic. The folks who think you pave roads with fairy dust and good thoughts are gonna have something to say about all this.  

This just in: a bucket of chicken testified in front of the U.S. Congress this week. This is a microcosm of today’s politics, folks. Grab a drumstick and follow along. 

The economy continued to roar in April with 263,000 jobs being created, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate down to levels not seen since Neil Armstrong tap-danced on the Moon. If it feels like we have been writing similar sentences for a hundred straight months or so, it is because we have. 

But even as our nation’s economy thrives, some people are still not happy about the general state of things, so our good friends at Burger King decided to dive into that malaise with their newest creation, the Unhappy Meals. These meals consist of a Whopper, soft drink and a sense of impending doom, which you can super-size for just a dollar more.  

Speaking of food, Pittsburgh is now the proud home to the best pizza in all the land, according to a recent survey. Get on down to one of the five Caliente Pizza Houses in the ‘Burgh. Two words: shaved porchetta. 

There was plenty of other big news out of Pittsburgh this week, as U.S. Steel announced they will pour a billion clams worth of upgrades into two plants in the Mon Valley. If you don’t think President Trump is gonna find his way there over the next eighteen months, you have obviously started the Cinco de Mayo celebrations a bit early.  

Twenty-four hours later, a pair of environmental groups announced they are suing said steel company for violating air pollution laws. We are sure the timing of that announcement was totally coincidental. 

The Pennsylvania State Police turned 114 yesterday, and the occasion was marked by a new report that troopers are now spending more time patrolling houses of worship than ever before. How far we’ve come since 1905.   

The state’s district attorneys are throwing a bucket of cold bong water on the idea of legalizing marijuana, we found out this week. They will, however, support decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, which some cities have already done. Have a few joints? All good. Have a kilo of pot in your trunk? Not so much.  

This week, Governor Wolf rolled out some updates to his climate action plan (which sounds like a new Avengers movie), including for the first time a nod to efforts to preserve nuclear energy. We foresee a very interesting June in the halls of government. 

The uptick in the number of landslides in Pennsylvania is wreaking havoc on PennDOT’s budget, it was announced this week.  The department usually spends around $30 million annually on repairing landslide-induced road damage. In 2018, that number jumped to $127 million, adding yet another funding headache that lawmakers will eventually have to confront.  Sometime. Someday.  

Four new cases of measles were reported in western Pennsylvania this week, because people are very strange. Hey, maybe we can bring back polio next? Maybe we shouldn’t spend so much time worrying about climate change since we look perfectly capable of wiping ourselves out for no good reason.  

Lawmakers advanced a plan to add a cool $100 million to the state’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit, bringing the total to over a quarter billion dollars a year. It is gonna take more than a teaspoon of Castor Oil to get the front office to swallow that one.   

Governor Wolf spent some time in Beaver County this week, where Royal Dutch Shell has partnered with the local community college to launch a training program for all the workers they will eventually need at their shiny new ethane cracker plant.  Workforce development is currently the absolute sexiest topic in Harrisburg, which tells you everything you need to know about your state government. 

The 17-year cicadas are getting ready to emerge from their slumber and cover western Pennsylvania. When they see what is happening in Washington, D.C. they might just burrow underground again and call it a day.  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to – where else – Florida! Road workers in Doral this week painted some new school crossing signs, spelling “school” as “scohol.”  Obviously, there are few people who could use some educational improvement tax credits down there in Florida.  

That’s what passes for news around here as we celebrate the start of May and the sixty-day stretch to the state budget deadline. Yes, we celebrate weird things around here. From all your friends at Triad, have a great weekend!


Triad Strategies Supports Business Community at PA Reception

Last evening, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia in partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual PA Reception. Triad Strategies was a co-sponsor of the event.

This year’s event kicked off with a seminar featuring Governor Tom Wolf as the keynote speaker. The focus of the seminar was topics relevant to Grow PA, a statewide initiative to grow Pennsylvania’s population, jobs and economy. The Governor’s remarks focused on workforce development and addressing critical infrastructure needs in the near term.

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Immediately following the seminar, Triad joined several of our clients, including Aqua, Columbia Gas, the Franklin Institute, ICON Development, and Independence Blue Cross at a reception that included legislators, representatives from various state agencies and business leaders from across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s business community was in full force showcasing diverse industries including energy, healthcare, education, and manufacturing among others.

PA Reception (2) PA Reception (2)

The event was a great opportunity to catch up with our colleagues, policymakers and clients. We look forward to next year’s event.