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December 2009

Son of the Empowerment Act


State Senator Jeff Piccola, R-Dauphin, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, today unveiled his plan to re-write the Education Empowerment Act, which is set to expire on June 30 of 2010.  Piccola’s plan will jump-start the debate over how to treat schools that have continued to struggle to make Adequate Yearly Progress since the Empowerment Act was passed in 2000. 

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Health Care Reform Comes to PA


If and when President Barack Obama affixes his signature to the health care reform bill currently percolating in Congress, don’t expect it to be the last word.  In fact, this exceedingly long chapter in our nation’s history looks like it might turn out to be simply a prelude to a war that will be fought on the state level for years to come.

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Pay to Patrol


Last week when Governor Ed Rendell stood before reporters and gave his year-end wrap, most scribes were focused on big picture items like the state budget impasse, the ongoing dance around legalization of table games, and what next year’s budget might look like.  We all understand that right now in Pennsylvania, the state budget is the planet that blots out the sun.

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A job is a job is a job

Road work 

Folks in Washington who get caught up in wondering whether stimulus spending creates new jobs or merely saves existing jobs received some schoolin’ recently from a Pennsylvania construction company executive.

James Van Buren, vice president and chief operating officer of New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., told a congressional committee this month that the distinction between a saved job and a new job makes little difference to the person who has that job.

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Electric competition gains momentum


If the number of residential electricity suppliers entering a market is a good gauge – and many believe it is – then electric competition in the PPL service territory appears to be very well positioned for success.

ConEdison Solutions this week became the seventh competitive supplier to offer residential service as rate caps expire in the PPL service territory on Jan. 1.  There are nearly 30 suppliers courting business customers.

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Who’s afraid of Mary Jane?


The pollster folks from Quinnapiac University stopped by the Pennsylvania Capitol today with a wake-up call for Pennsylvania legislators fearful of the specter of re-election challenges and perhaps even the ghosts of their own crazy, carefree college days. Mention marijuana to most legislators and they cross to the other side of the street for fear some voter might believe they carry bongs in their briefcases. According to the latest Quinnapiac Poll, though, most Pennsylvanians – make that three in five Keystone Staters – believe that marijuana for medical purposes is a good idea.

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Tweeting Live at 5!


Tomorrow at 5:00 PM, The Environmental Quality Board will hold a public hearing to accept comments on proposed new wastewater treatment requirements.  The new regulations could have a profound impact on natural gas drilling operations in the Marcellus Shale area, as well as a broad range of industries that discharge dissolved solids in their wastewater. 

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Non Profits and Budget Holes


Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl continues to wranglewith a projected $15 million shortfall in his proposed budget.  Now, $15 million may not seem like much when compared to some municipal budget deficits (say, Philadelphia, for instance) but the battle unfolding around it might end up having broad consequences across the state, maybe eventually landing in the lap of the General Assembly.

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Best of 2009

As we launch the Triadvocate today, we thought it might be nice to share with you the Greatest Hits from our Weekly Client Memos of the past year.  Our Client Memo, as you will see, is a slightly irreverent and off-kilter look at weekly events not only in Harrisburg, but across the state and nation as well.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy writing them!  And away we go…

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Water issues bringing a perfect storm to PA


Back in 1999, in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a bill was introduced in the General Assembly by Rep. Camille “Bud” George, a colorful and sometimes bombastic lawmaker from Clearfield County. At the time, George was serving as the Minority Chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, a panel he now chairs.

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Home care agencies seek exemption from minimum wage requirements

Red hat
This afternoon, the state Supreme Court will hear a case brought forth by Bayada Nurses, one of the state’s largest for-profit home care agencies.  The crux of the case?  Apparently, Bayada is seeking to exempt home care agencies like themselves from their obligations to pay the state-mandated minimum wage, as well as some overtime and travel costs for its employees.

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