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Friday Happy Hour: Baby Driver Edition

Because nothing moves Congress like a hard-and-fast deadline, both chambers this week reached an agreement on a $1.3 trillion federal budget deal that adds $78 billion in defense Baby driver spending and another $52 billion for domestic programs.  Despite some grumblings from the far edges of each party, the deal was hailed as a bipartisan compromise, which explains why early this morning President Trump threatened to veto the whole thing. 

Tucked into the omnibus spending bill is a cool $137 million for the new federal courthouse in Harrisburg, a project that we at Triad advocated for way back in the Pleistocene Era, when the original siting decision was being made.  Government moves at the speed of government, people. 

When he wasn’t busy firing his national security adviser, the president this week announced he is slapping $50 billion in tariffs on China, earning him praise from Democrats and outright scorn from Wall Street.  When he said “America First” he was not kidding, people.   

And it would not be a week in Washington without a Russia kerfuffle, this time over a congratulatory phone call from President Trump to Vladimir Putin on his stunning re-election that no one saw coming.   

People across the nation this week were horrified to learn that their Facebook personal data was apparently sold to an outside vendor who used it for political purposes. These would be the same people who routinely use Facebook to tell everyone around them every intimate detail of their lives.  Shocked, we tell you!   

State Rep. Rick Saccone this week formally conceded the 18th Congressional District special election to Democrat Conor Lamb just in time for both candidates to file petitions to run in two adjacent districts.  Pennsylvania electoral politics have never been weirder, and we are just glad we are alive to see it. 

The Pennsylvania Senate this week passed a package of seven bills designed to curb domestic violence, chief among them being a bill that will force people with Protection from Abuse orders to turn in their firearms to law enforcement.  If you don’t think this is a big deal, you don’t know much about the politics of the 2nd Amendment in Pennsylvania.  This move was, in a word, seismic.

Over in the Lower Chamber, a bipartisan group of lawmakers started a push to bring broadband and high-speed internet services to the 800,000 Pennsylvanians who still don’t have it. Drive across Interstate 80 and you’ll get the picture when you try to make a simple phone call.   

Literally one hour after those lawmakers made their announcement, Governor Wolf announced the formation of the Office of Broadband Initiatives and kicked off a campaign to invest $35 million to entice carriers to offer service to many of those aforementioned 800,000 people. We would politely suggest that the new OBI also add “Wireless Access Networks” to its title so that we may all call the new office OBI-WAN. 

The State Senate this week also confirmed a slew of cabinet secretaries for the Wolf Administration.  Many of the faces are the same, but the places have changed.  Here is your scorecard if you’re playing at home. 

After years of relative stability, casino ownership in Pennsylvania is changing rapidly.  What is behind the recent spate of sales and mergers, you ask? Well thank you for asking, we will tell you.  As Pennsylvania wades into the realm of online gaming, many casinos are positioning themselves for this new opportunity while some are just running for the hills.  Apparently, they were not aware of this new thing called the “internet” and are unsure about its viability in this heretofore exclusively brick-and-mortar casino world. 

We were pleased to learn this week that our friends down the street, Little Amps Coffee, has won the nationwide award for best espresso.  For those who have not spent time in our world headquarters, we go through A LOT of coffee around these parts! Congrats to the Little Amps team!  

It is with deep sadness this week that we note the passing of our dear friend Penny Gerber, the vice chair of the PA Democratic Party and longtime fixture on the Pennsylvania political scene.  She was truly one of a kind, and we send our condolences to her family and friends.   

In our Shameless Client Plug, we give you the news that Knox Medical is now hiring staff for its new medical marijuana dispensary in York County!  Welcome to Pennsylvania, Team Knox!  

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Buffalo, Minnesota, where a teen smashed her car directly into a driver’s test examination center before she ever got to actually, you know, take the driving test.  We are gonna go out on a limb and guess that she failed.  The new Baby Driver she is not. 

That’s what passes for news around here as we shake off the latest blast of snow and wistfully dream of a day when spring finally comes.  If you see Punxsutawney Phil, please punch him in the throat for us.  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

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