Is state tax reform finally beginning to take shape?
The Starbucks incident: a crisis management case study

Friday Happy Hour: Uranus Alignment Edition

As the May primary election draws near, we’ll begin with the three Republican gubernatorial candidates, who held a debate this week. As has been the case in their TV ads, Paul Green-moonjpg-e4d8ed70dd47d603 Mango and Scott Wagner went at each other, hammer and tongs, while Laura Ellsworth asserted that their behavior could potentially sink either of their chances for defeating Governor Wolf in November.

Is this the most bizarre gubernatorial race ever, or is that just us? Our friends Terry Madonna and Michael Young suggest it’s not just us. “So we have this baffling incongruity: two conservative Republican candidates, both trying to destroy the other for a chance to run against an incumbent neither is likely to beat,” they opine.

Meanwhile, Democrat/Braddock Mayor John Fetterman picked up a key endorsement in the lieutenant governor primary, while Republican lt. guv. candidate Jeff Bartos launched his first TV ad.

Recent events at a Philly Starbucks and a York County golf course that attracted negative national attention prompted Governor Wolf to remind folks that, as places of public accommodations, businesses are subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. C’mon, it’s 2018. We can do better than this. Do unto others, right?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one… state Sen. Mario Scavello has introduced legislation that would essentially scrap those nasty ol’ PA property taxes. The proposal would make primary residences exempt from property taxes and replace the revenue with increased personal income taxes. We’ll see if that dog hunts.

The PA Legislative Correspondents Association held its annual Gridiron Dinner this week. We’re not allowed to talk about it. In fact, forget we even mentioned it.

Online gaming blog Play Pennsylvania weighed in on the likelihood that PA could join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Association, an online poker conduit, which would double the reach of the network to 26 million residents. We say, let the chips fall where they may.

At a news conference early this week, Gov. Tom Wolf asked the General Assembly to expand background checks on firearms and end an exception for shotguns, sporting rifles and semi-automatic rifles sold at gun shows. Uh, yeah, Guv, said the General Assembly, we’ll get to that right away.

The good news? Governor Wolf believes high-speed internet services will be available statewide by 2022. The bad news? To quote the late Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.

Also waiting are Philly’s medical cannabis patients. Despite growers harvesting their first crops a while back, Philadelphia is still without an operational dispensary due to lawsuits, protests, and construction issues.

And while we’re visiting the medical cannabis issue, there’s growing speculation that Pennsylvania could become a medical marijuana research hub, thanks to these thingies called academic clinical research centers, licenses for which are thought to be in store for Penn, Drexel, Temple and Thomas Jefferson universities.

PennDOT Secretary Richards has been making the rounds to chat about road construction plans this summer in various corners of the state. PennDOT expects to have lettings of about $2.4 billion this year, essentially the same as last year. Be sure to slow down and stay alert when tooling through work zones.

Have you heard the one about a couple dozen Republicans whose support for President Trump appears to be weakening? Not Lou Barletta, no-sir-eeee. Lou is still all-in as he stumps for support in his quest to unseat Sen. Bob Casey.

Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes (again) to our favorite ride-sharing firm, Lyft, which announced this week it will henceforth be carbon-neutral. In other words, you can rest assured that your Lyft lift will not add to global warming, thanks to the firm’s pledge to offset greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits. As for that other notable ride-sharing company? Crickets.

SCP No. 2 goes to Election Systems & Software, which participated in a show-and-tell at the Farm Show Complex this week, introducing election officials and the public to the newest voting machine equipment. Governor Wolf has directed counties to upgrade their election equipment by the end of next year to ensure that all systems have a paper trail backup.

Triad’s Todd Brysiak, who knows a little something about how things work over at the Capitol, penned an op-ed article wondering whether the tea leaves might be lining up for some actual tax reform. To read more about it, check out his article here.

Our We Can’t Make This Up segment whisks us off to the moon, of all places, which – if you believe Facebook – will turn green on Sunday, on account of some convoluted explanation having to do with the alignment of Uranus. For those inclined to take a gander at the moon on Sunday, we think Facebook has Uranus fooled.

And that’s what passes for news around these parts this week. As we head off to Happy Hour, we suggest that everyone relax, take a deep breath, embrace the Golden Rule, and we’ll be back next week!

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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