Following his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, President Trump this week initially said "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered in the 2016 election. Twenty-seven hours later, after all hell had rained down, and breaking with his usual practice of claiming not to have said things he said, Trump explained that he misspoke, and that what he really meant to say was "I don't see any reason why it wouldn’t be" Russia that interfered with the 2016 election. Got it?
In stating (at least initially) that he believed the word of President Putin over his own intelligence agencies, President Trump induced a somewhat rare occurrence of U.S. Senators Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey agreeing on something.
Monday was the deadline for applying for online gambling licenses. Despite the grumbling in some quarters that the 54 percent tax rate would deter some prospective licensees, nine of the 13 licensed PA casinos said “deal me in.”
As for when Pennsylvanians will be able to place legal bets on sporting events, it’ll probably be during the upcoming football season, but maybe not at the very beginning, according to PA Gaming Control Board Executive Director Kevin O’Toole.
Following are this week’s highlights of the slowly awakening PA gubernatorial battle: Republican challenger Scott Wagner said Governor Wolf wants to drastically cut funding for education in rural school districts. Wolf said “nuh-uh.” Look for things to heat up a bit more as we approach Labor Day.
The governor unveiled new guidelines for how opioids should be prescribed in workers’ comp cases. Critics said the guidelines were weaker than ones he vetoed a while back.
The consequences of the new law that permits Pennsylvanians to purchase (and more to the point, set off) commercial-grade fireworks continues to rankle early shift workers, pets, pet owners, editorial writers and folks who tend to think of nighttime as a sleeping opportunity. This week’s condemnation comes from Williamsport.
Over yonder in Philadelphia, the city prevailed in its defense of its tax on sweetened beverages. Mayor Jim Kenney lauded the state Supreme Court decision, while others – city grocers and other retailers who are losing business to the ‘burbs – were naturally disappointed.
The PA Interscholastic Athletic Association passed a couple of policies this week that could have a significant impact on high school sports. Effective Aug. 6, athletes in 10th grade or later who transfer to another school during the season will be barred from participating in post-season competition for a year unless granted a waiver. The other policy is aimed at maintaining competitive balance by taking several new factors into account in determining whether a school should be bumped up to a higher classification.
State officials revealed that they had to shut down online access to birth and death records recently after someone hacked into them and made some unauthorized “cosmetic modifications.” They added that no data breach occurred, and they are working with law enforcement to get to the bottom of it.
A new report claims that several hundred thousand additional Pennsylvanians could vote if the Commonwealth implemented automatic voter registration and offered early voting. A total of 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in the last presidential election, according to the Center for American Progress.
Speaking of voting, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he would expand the scope of his audit of the state’s voter registration system in the wake of the federal indictments of 12 Russians for hacking in the 2016 election.
Speaking of the auditor general, he released an analysis concluding that legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania and taxing it at 35 percent could yield nearly $600 million annually for the state coffers.
And, speaking of marijuana (this is what we call a “segue hat-trick”), Lackawanna County officials complained that state officials moved too quickly on advancing the medical cannabis program, and that they’d like a bit more guidance on what the law means for local programs.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) took his show on the road (see what we did there?) to Monroeville this week to remind the fine folks in western PA of the benefits they’re receiving from passage of the transportation funding act in 2013. We gin up this week’s Shameless Client Plug by reporting that Jason Wagner, of Associated PA Constructors, was on hand to provide the industry’s perspective.
This week’s We Can’t Make This Up segment whisks us off to the internet, where some dude named Max has found a use for Instagram that could truly change our world for the better. He photoshops images of dogs and food and posts the mashups to an account called Dogs in Food. The account has nearly a half-million followers. And you thought Instagram was just a waste of time…
So, that’s what passes for news around here this week as we move toward the dog days of summer! From your pals here at Triad World HQ, have a great weekend, and join us back here again next week for another batch of nebulous news nuggets and pet pix!