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January 2016

Friday Happy Hour: Attack of the Jo Bros Edition

Fox News held the 469th GOP Presidential debate Thursday night, but one of the merry pranksters was conspicuous in his absence: one Donald J. Trump, whom you may have come to Jonas-brothers-the-jonas-brothers-18621061-2560-1921know in the past few months. Oddly enough, for a slate of candidates who do nothing but complain about Trump’s media monopolization, none of them could stop talking about him for five stinkin’ minutes on the stage last night.  Great job, team.

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No Savesies Edition

By the time you read this, winter storm Jonas (at least that’s what the rock band Weezer calls it) may have covered your house, knocked out your power and stolen your babies.  Governor Wolf has declared a state of emergency for the Commonwealth, much of which sits in the path of the latest Snowmageddon event.  All jokes aside, be safe out there and check in on your elderly neighbors from time to time.    

The impending winter doom has caused the state Democratic Party to cancel its annual meeting, meaning there should be plenty of rooms in Hershey-area hotels should you be so inclined to strap on the snow shoes and head on out to the Sweetest Place on Earth.

The Philadelphia Police this week channeled their inner Drake to remind people not to put large objects (i.e. lawn chairs, orange cones, garbage cans, other family members) into No saviesfreshly-shoveled parking spaces.  No savesies, people. You used to call us on our cell phones, now we suggest you dispense with that nonsense and just call the police.  

Our indomitable friends at Lyft, however, intend to remain at your service (if they can) if you happen to be stranded in the City of Brotherly Love at any point this weekend.  Keep in mind, however, that even the best Lyft drivers cannot traverse two feet of snow, so temper your expectations a bit.  

Speaking of Lyft, the chorus of supporters who favor statewide, permanent legalization of ride-sharing is starting to swell.  The General Assembly (more to the point, the State House) now holds the keys to that particular kingdom after the State Senate acted late last year.  So yeah, let’s get a move on, people. The 21st century is here.  

If you thought that the upcoming Primary Elections season might put a damper on any potential tax votes in the General Assembly, we tend to agree with you.  At least our own Michael Manzo agrees with you, as you can read here in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  After the Primaries?  Well, now that might just be a whole different story!  

While funds begin to trickle out of the Governor’s budget office as a result of his signature (and heavy blue-lining) of the state budget, college kids slated to receive PHEAA grants have reason to rejoice as they look to be next in line to be made somewhat whole. Funds for their respective state universities and colleges, however, remain very much locked in the drawer, as we mentioned last week.  So it is truly a good news/bad news issue.  Many kids can now to a college that may not be open when they get there.

The Department of Corrections funding stream is about to dip below “E’, we learned this week, and the State Senate is already making strides to send a supplemental funding bill to the governor.  Lack of funding will not mean that the state’s 50,000 or so prisoners will be in your neighborhood anytime soon, so no need to worry, despite what one might think when one hears that the prison system is out of cash.

The State Senate this week also kicked the tires on a few bills that would reduce the size of the legislature. While it is certainly not in our purview to tell you exactly how large or small the General Assembly should be, we would caution you to not raise your expectations.  Trimming a few House or Senate seats is not going to solve the state’s budget woes, folks, despite what you may have read in the comments section of  

The Wolf Administration this week came out in support of a State Senate move to delay the implementation of the state’s Keystone Exams.  The remarkable part of this story has nothing to do with the exams themselves, but instead it is the fact that Governor Wolf and the State Senate actually agree about something.  Détente!  Eh, probably not.

The state’s casino industry posted another record year in 2015 dragging $3.17 billion out of the pot, of which $1.4 billion went to property tax reductions.  If you believe that $1.4 billion in property tax cuts is a paltry amount, we will go ahead and add $1.4 billion to your collective property tax bills next year and see if you notice.

Only one in six wee ones in Pennsylvania is enrolled in a quality pre-K program, we found out this week.  One would think that after two decades of talk about “quality Pre-K” instruction in this state, we could do a hair better than one in six.  We are certainly aware that pre-K instruction can be expensive, but as our father always told us, nothing is more expensive than stupidity.

There was quite a kerfuffle at the latest pipeline task force meeting, as anti-frackers and anti-eminent domain folks turned the normally staid and bureaucratic (read: boring) gathering into a UFC event. For anyone who believes that throwing state money at pipeline construction is going to solve the shale industry’s capacity problem, we encourage folks to read up on how disruptive grassroots actions can be if employed properly.  There may have even been a thing or two written this past week on civil disobedience, if we recall correctly.  

If you were interested in checking out the highs and lows of the first year of the Wolf Administration, check out this piece by  Just don’t read the comments section, as we mentioned previously.   

In our We Can’t Make This Up section this week, the house where the Bill of Rights was drafted was partially demolished this week, largely because very few people know where the Bill of Rights was drafted.  No word yet as to when Donald Trump will vow to rebuild that house bigger and better, perhaps with a casino attached.

That is what passes for news around here, as we stare into the ominous gray skies enveloping the Capital City like a….O.K., enough with the drama.  Just get home safely tonight, everyone, and join us again next week.  From all your friends 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

Friday Happy Hour: Waffle House Edition

President Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, and as always, bipartisanship and good manners were on display for all of America to see.  Nah, just kidding. Waffle-house (1)  The President talked (for a long time), the GOP sniped at him when it was over and everyone turned on Jimmy Fallon and that was that.

During the speech, Obama took a shot at the partisan Congressional map-making exercise known as gerrymandering, citing it as one major reason our politics in this country have become so divisive.  Of course, being Pennsylvanians, we just assumed he was talking about us.  

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Friday Happy Hour: Buzz Kill edition

When last we visited, Pennsylvania did not have a 2015-16 fiscal year budget, and there were numerous issues gumming up the prospects for completing the job, Buzz killwhich was six months late. Lots has changed in recent weeks, so we’ll get right to it.

Not only do we still not have a budget, it’s now six months and eight days late, and there are even more issues gumming things up. Instead of a budget, we have a measure that provides emergency funding for social services and schools, which began as an earlier Republican no-frills budget that Governor Wolf customized by chain-sawing a few billion more out of it and then christened it an “exercise in stupidity.”

It was not a complete buzz kill, however, as it did manage to open up the ol’ PA fiscal spigot a bit as $3.3 billion in emergency funds began flowing. The emergency allocation included money for film tax credits as well, which a Post-Gazette editorial pointed out creates jobs and injects more income and tax revenue than the credits cost.

On the other hand, some observers said the release of emergency funds lessens what little leverage existed to finish the task in the first place, thus creating the possibility that we will double our pleasure by working on two spending plans at the same time as winter morphs into spring.

How did it come to this? Well, an outfit called the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership undertook a national review of state budget rules and found that Pennsylvania is unique in that there are virtually no consequences for failing to pass a budget on time. Or apparently at all? Hmmm. You’d think that six months of snarky commentary in the news media across the state would constitute some level of consequences.

Well, maybe there are SOME consequences. With only 18 days before nominating petitions begin to be circulated, a significant number of legislators are choosing not to seek reelection. Several of those who have announced their decision acknowledge that the budget stalemate has been a contributing factor.

Among the more prominent lawmakers bowing out is longtime Republican Rep. Bill Adolph, majority chair of the House Appropriations Committee. By our count, at least a dozen more have either announced or are rumored to be thinking about hanging up their cleats, and it appears that the number will grow as Petition Day draws near.

Meanwhile, a hundred miles to the east, inauguration festivities were Monday’s order of the day. Jim Kenney is now officially Philly’s 99th mayor, and he and City Council marked the day with a series of celebratory events. Looking at the year ahead, Council President Darrell Clarke listed affordable housing, better schools and jobs at the top of the city’s agenda.

One of the mayor’s first acts was to restore Philly’s status as a “sanctuary city,” meaning that local police are not obligated to cooperate with federal immigration agents by providing information about undocumented immigrants.

Also in Philly, Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie killed coach Chip Kelly’s buzz, firing him before the last game of the season and saying that Kelly just couldn’t seem to connect with people. Fans, current players, Deshaun Jackson and even Mayor Kenney expressed their satisfaction with Kelly’s dismissal. There were no flags for piling on.

Montgomery County Commission Chair Josh Shapiro remains mum on the subject, but all of Pennsylvania expects him to become a candidate in the Democratic primary for attorney general, joining Stephen Zappala, Dave Fawcett, John Morganelli and Jack Stollsteimer. Incumbent Kathleen Kane would make six – still not enough to require a kids’ table – and it appears that Republican John Rafferty has the GOP side all to himself after winning a couple of straw polls late last month.

On the national front, President Obama signaled that he’s ready to relax and coast through the last year of his presidency, turning his attention toward a mundane, noncontroversial initiative to tighten gun control laws without consulting Congress. An Adams County lawmaker responded by introducing a bill that would render guns manufactured and sold in Pennsylvania exempt from the president’s rule changes.

The PA Department of Environmental Protection caused a stir in launching more stringent regulations for oil and gas drilling. Speaking on the buzz kill side of the issue, the Marcellus Shale Coalition said it was not consulted, and the new regulations will cost the industry an additional $2 billion per year.

This week’s installment of We Can’t Make This Up finds us at a California Pizza Hut, where employees posted video of themselves smoking dope while working in the restaurant’s kitchen on New Year’s Eve. On its website, the company said, "There is no tolerance for this kind of activity at any of our restaurants. The local franchise owner took swift action and the employees involved will no longer work for Pizza Hut." Now that, friends, is a DOUBLE buzz kill.

So that should bring you up to date as we rush headlong into the new year! From all of us at Triad, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here next week!

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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