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October 2017

Friday Happy Hour: That’s a Wrap Edition

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a federal budget plan, clearing the way for President Donald Trump’s tax cut/tax reform initiative, which is expected to add $1.5 Thats-A-WRAP2-580x376 trillion to the national debt.  On the upside, the tax cuts will be the largest in the history of the entire civilized world, or so we have been told.  It remains to be seen how quickly GOP Congressional leaders can pass such a plan while simultaneously being insulted by a President of their own party.

The country will likely spend most of this weekend going through the JFK files, which were released to the public for the first time on Thursday.  One can only hope that the release does not spawn another dreadful, six-hour Oliver Stone movie.  

As is the norm around here, when the General Assembly finally sets its collective mind to a task, it can often move with startling alacrity.  Such was the case this week as the House and Senate traded votes on a flurry of budget-related bills, essentially closing out the budget for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.  It may be a day late and a few dollars short (depending on who you ask) but it is mercifully over.  Here are the highlights, courtesy of our pals at Pennlive

The last vote of the budget season was the toughest, as the state House finished up two days of debate on a major expansion of gambling by passing the bill Thursday morning.  Pennsylvania will now become the fourth state in the country to legalize internet gaming (yeah, maybe a little Shameless Client Plug for our friends at the Poker Players Alliance and the Stars Group!) 

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The Most 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia

According to Aesop, ‘A man is known by the company he keeps.’ Here at Triad Strategies we couldn’t be more thrilled with our clients and friends of the firm who prove the value in Stickmantrophy Aesop’s quote.

Philadelphia Magazine just released its annual list of The 100 Most Influential People In Philadelphia: a ranking of those who shape the way we think, talk, work and live right now.

In pouring over the list we were proud to be in excellent company working with such a diverse array of clients and friends who truly make difference in the Philadelphia, and in many cases, statewide community, and beyond.

A hearty ‘well deserved!’ goes out to the following clients: Darryl Clarke, Philadelphia City Council President; Dan Hilferty, President of Independence Blue Cross; Robert Bogle, Publisher of the Philadelphia Tribune; and Michael Coard of ‘Heeding Cheney’s Call.’

Additionally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t congratulate close friends and colleagues of the firm for their support, insight and valuable counsel that’s allowed us to grow and depth and breadth over the years. Cheers to Amy Gutman, David L. Cohen, Mayor Jim Kenney, Bill Hite Jr., Marian Tasco, Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Bob Casey Jr., Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Martina White, Meryl Levitz, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Allan Domb, John McNesby, Jordan Harris, Luis Cortes, Pasquale “Pat” Deon, Congressman Bob Brady, Joseph Forkin, Bart Blatstein, Sara Lomax-Reese, and John Dougherty.

Many have made the Philly Mag’s listing several times over the years. It’s exciting to see folks continuing to succeed, just as it is to welcome the new guard of movers and shakers.

 


Fireworks bill threatens safety, jobs

By Bob Stewart

The General Assembly appears to be moving closer to approving legislation that would greatly lessen Pennsylvania’s oversight of fireworks sellers, a move that could significantly compromise public safety and run established sellers out of business.

The legislation, in the form of a tax measure, would legalize the purchase of the largest consumer-grade fireworks allowable by law to Pennsylvanians and tax the sale of them at 12 percent, while also allowing them to be sold in temporary tents.  The combination of these factors would greatly expand the number of fireworks sellers and buyers, many or most of whom would be largely untrained and minimally regulated. IMG_3365 safety

The provisions in the bill have not been subject to public hearings, so there has been little opportunity to examine the consequences of this legislation.

The expansion would come at the expense of the 82 established brick-and-mortar sellers, who have made significant investments in facilities and training and created thousands of jobs over the years. Brick-and-mortar stores have spent millions to create comprehensive safety standards within the retail stores and with their products, to assure that they are being used safely and appropriately.

Dozens of small businesses in Pennsylvania would be put out of business if tents pop up around them and start siphoning off their sales. Temporary locations that pop up and disappear can avoid accountability for what and to whom they sell.

Increased availability of fireworks would affect pets, children, people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and anyone trying to get a good night’s sleep.

Pennsylvania, nearly overnight, would become one of the least regulated states in the country in terms of fireworks, especially their use.  The measure contains no regulations regarding how, when or where fireworks can be used.

The Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for regulating fireworks, is already understaffed and would become significantly more so once it becomes responsible for regulating hundreds more sellers. The lack of capacity to oversee this industry as it expands exponentially could lead to abuses as new entrants sell illegal fireworks and are not held accountable for the consequences. 

The legislation could place a greater burden on local and State Police, emergency medical responders and fire companies as well.

The House has already approved the fireworks measure. The Senate is expected to consider it shortly.

In short, the fireworks bill represents a major policy shift, made in haste without public hearings, almost certain to create a regulatory nightmare and lessen the level of public safety. It is bad public policy that should be killed or significantly altered to protect the residents of the commonwealth and established businesses and the thousands of jobs they represent.

If these kinds of consequences raise your concern about public safety, please contact your state senator as soon as possible and ask him or her to oppose this legislation.

Bob Stewart is executive director of the Pennsylvania Pyrotechnics Association.


Friday Happy Hour: Dirty Rat Edition

The U.S. Senate this week passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint that will set the stage for Congress’ long-sought tax reform plan, to be dealt with later.  The move clears the way to doRat tax reform without the threat of that pesky filibuster, which means that Democratic Senators are likely already at the tax cut buffet table, looking for a piece of the pie.  If ya can’t beat ‘em… 

Heck, the President himself personally invited the Democrats to be a part of the show.  Of course, he did so after trashing them on Twitter ten minutes earlier, but who are we to split hairs? 

One person who is decidedly not a fan of the current iteration of tax reform (which is basically a bunch of talking points on a single sheet of paper) is our own U.S. Senator Bob Casey.  You can check out his views here

Apparently, Presidential Executive Orders can have quite the impact, we learned this week.  After President Trump affixed his signature on one that will end subsidy payments under Obamacare, rates for some insurance plans jumped over 30% for next year.  Cause, meet effect.  Looks like when Trump said that Obamacare would implode, he meant it. 

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Triad Strategies’ Roy Wells Receives Statewide Award

Roy Wells is no stranger to the way government operates, having spent several years working in the General Assembly, where he served in multiple capacities in the House and Senate, and at the Pennsylvania Office of the State Treasurer.Roy_Wells_Web_Site.png

That experience was instrumental as he created and now leads one of the state’s most successful and respected public affairs, business development and government relations firms.

Triad’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, labor unions, energy companies, healthcare entities and trade associations. Under Roy’s leadership as president and managing director, the company has expanded to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Roy is a firm believer that attracting and hiring the best talent is what makes Triad so successful.

The award, given by City & State PA, honored 50 of the most prominent and accomplished leaders in government, business, and media over the age of 50 who continue to make a positive impact on Pennsylvania through their achievements, leadership abilities, philanthropic efforts and dedication to the betterment of the commonwealth.

“It’s an honor to receive this award, but it is a direct reflection of the talented team we’ve built at Triad. The solid foundation of smart, creative, driven individuals enables our team to consistently achieve positive results for our wonderful clients.” said Wells.  To learn more about what makes the Triad team so special, click here.


Triad Strategies Proudly Partners with 'Heeding Cheyney's Call'

Founded in 1837, Cheyney University is America’s oldest historically Black institution of higher education. Today, Cheyney University leverages that rich history of providing access to higher education for all students and by producing visionary leaders and responsible citizens.  HCC pic

Cheyney has over 30,000 alumni and its graduates are successful, talented individuals; some of the most well-known include 60 Minutes journalist Ed Bradley and Dominique Curry of the St. Louis Rams. Cheyney University is in the business of developing human potential and talent and does so through an intellectually challenging environment and personal attention to every student – a hallmark of the Cheyney experience. 

In order to keep the tenets of Cheyney alive, Triad Strategies is pleased to announce a collaborative effort in partnership with “Heeding Cheyney’s Call” to raise awareness and support for this culturally significant institution - one of 107 historically black colleges and universities in the United States.

“Heeding Cheyney’s Call” is a coalition of alumni, students, professors, staff, and retirees, as well as community activists, religious leaders, and elected officials who are passionate and committed to the future success of Cheyney University.

“As a proud Cheyney alumnus, Steering Committee member and the attorney for Heeding Cheyney’s Call (HCC), I am ecstatic that Triad Strategies- Pennsylvania’s most influential and effective bipartisan lobbying, strategic communications, public affairs, and government relations firm- has agreed to partner with HCC to help save and enhance historic Cheyney University,” said Michael Coard. 

Yvonne Roberts, Managing Director of Triad Strategies’ Philadelphia Office, notes “I have witnessed the many valuable contributions that Cheyney graduates make to the Philadelphia region.  And even more importantly the positive impact Cheyney makes on the lives of individuals.  Higher education is critical to one’s success; it increases lifetime earnings by $1 million and significantly reduces the likelihood of experiencing unemployment. Ensuring Cheyney’s continued success is essential for the future of the Commonwealth.”

The enthusiasm of Heeding Cheyney’s Call is contagious and Team Triad is excited to play a part in helping Cheyney serve future generations.

 


Friday Happy Hour: Nose Hair Edition

President Trump graced the region with his presence this week, traveling here to tout his nascent tax-reform plan, which – depending on who you talk to – either will or won’t benefit Nose the middle class. We’ll know more once congressional tax-writing committees flesh it out, which will happen after Congress passes a budget. Triad’s Kirstin Snow suggested the proposal is headed down the same path as Obamacare repeal and other legislative fiascos.

Uh, but back to that thing about passing a budget… Good luck with that. Here in PA, we blew through the 100-day mark of not having a state budget, and PennLive/The Patriot News offered up a list of reasons for the stalemate, some serious and others not so much.

In the absence of a budget, Treasurer Joe Torsella announced he had issued a $700 million loan from Treasury's short-term investment pool to help cover $1.2 billion in scheduled payments to Medicaid providers. He had declined to do same last month.

Governor Wolf’s latest idea for shaking more nickels and dimes out of the couch cushions involves leasing the Farm Show Complex to a private operator for an upfront cash payment to the state of $200 million, then leasing it back over 29 years. Not so fast, cried House Majority Leader Dave Reed, that wouldn’t be legal without legislative approval. And Senate Republicans chimed in, asserting that the plan Wolf proposed last week to borrow against future liquor profits may not be legal either.

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Friday Happy Hour: Into the River Edition

Another week comes to a close and we find ourselves sickened and devastated over a mass shooting, this time in Las Vegas.  Our deepest sympathies go out to all affected by this 2007-09-14-susquehanna-river-trip-09a horrific act, and our best wishes go out to Congress as they put their collective toes onto the true third rail of American politics.

The U.S. Supreme Court is wrangling with the issue of gerrymandering, its decision (due sometime next year) could have wide-ranging impacts on how state legislatures draw Congressional boundaries.  Or the courts may find that it is entirely normal to have Congressional districts that look like six-headed dragons. Hard to say with that group of inscrutables.

If you think that tax reform will ultimately mean very little to you personally, we say wake up, Maggie, we think we got something to say to you. The latest iteration of the Congressional plan could stop you from claiming state and local tax deductions on your federal income tax filing.  For those who have been advocating the abolition of property taxes in Pennsylvania, this might be a curveball to which you wanna pay a bit of attention.   

After casually sauntering past the deadline to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Congressional leaders this week indicated they might just jam Puerto Rican hurricane relief into the bill to renew CHIP.  This proves once again that there are literally no limits to the weird things Congress will do to complicate an otherwise simple issue.  The Rube Goldberg Committee is a busy one down there in the Federal City. 

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Dedicated transportation funds should be preserved for just that

Apc

In addition to putting highway construction crews back to work, Act 89 of 2013 is positioning Pennsylvania as an attractive site for warehousing and logistics companies such as Amazon, says Robert Latham of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors on this week’s edition of Pennsylvania Newsmakers.

Latham, appearing with host Terry Madonna, also noted that diverting Act 89 revenue from its intended purpose and shifting it to the state’s General Fund detracts from efforts to restore Pennsylvania’s transportation infrastructure.

To view the entire segment, click here.