Casey Challenger Heading to the Glenn Beck Show

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Laureen Cummings, challenger to Senator Bob Casey and leader of the Scranton Tea Party, is heading to New York City tomorrow to sit in the audience of conservative television personality Glenn Beck.

“BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!” posted Cummings on her facebook page. “I just received a call to go on the Glenn Beck show!!!!!!!!!!!!OMG, OMG,OMG….CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! Okay so here is the thing, I want to bring someone with me and they have room for me to bring one other mom/dad that is just as concerned about what our kids are being taught as I am. Soooo who wants to come with me? I need to know ASAP.”

“Our Tea Party has been working with all the local school districts in regards to reading their history and science books to see exactly what our children are learning, and we’re finding a lot of inconsistencies,” Cummings told PoliticsPA in a brief interview.

“So, Glenn is having a show on that subject tomorrow and he called to ask if we’d be in his audience.”

She says she is still intent on challenging Senator Casey, but her focus now is on local races.

“Right now what we’re concentrating on is education and school boards and also I’m trying to help some of our candidates who are currently running. We have a lot of members who are running for office, and we’re working to help them out.”

Are Democrats trying to do what the Tea Party did last year at town halls?

By Tom Mulkeen, Contributing writer

Two freshmen GOP Congressman from Pennsylvania, Lou Barletta and Pat Meehan, have been in the national news spotlight over the last week after they were challenged aggressively by constituents at town hall meetings.  Lou Barletta’s picture was in the headline story on Politico over the weekend after he was targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Moveon.org following his vote on the Ryan budget.  Meehan was also featured in the same story.

Democrats in D.C. are well aware that they lost the communications battle with the GOP after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – more commonly known as ObamaCare – was passed in March of last year.  It would seem Democratic groups are determined not to let that happen again by going on the offensive against Republican members in swing districts like Barletta’s seat in the Northeast and Meehan’s in suburban Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, a town hall conducted Tuesday by Freshman Dan Webster (R-FL) quickly spiraled out of control with constituents interrupting the Congressman and shouting after his remarks.  It was picked up by Politico and will certainly receive more national news.  (The video posted by Politico was edited by the liberal group Think Progress and it is also difficult to hear some of Webster’s responses).

No Keystone State town halls have been that disruptive, though Chris Matthews had some fun with a clip from Meehan’s event on Hardball (begins at 5:46) last Monday.  In the section of the clip broadcast on MSNBC, Meehan tells a constituent that the Ryan budget did not “abolish” Medicare.  The clip cuts away before Meehan is seen explaining what the budget does do – perhaps an early incarnation of the approach that Democrats and left-leaning organizations will take over the next 18 months in campaign commercials dealing with GOP support for the Ryan plan.

Already, the DCCC has also put together this commercial in which Meehan, speaking during a debate with Bryan Lentz last fall, promises he would not vote for privatizing social security and turning Medicare into a voucher program.  “Pat Meehan voted to end Medicare” reads a caption emblazoned with a red “x.”

US News does a good job of outlining the basics of the changes to Medicare, which Ryan argues is not a voucher program and would not affect Americans over the age of 55.  Democrats insist the plan effectively shuts down Medicare.

So much for political discourse.

Poll: Mixed Numbers for Governor Corbett

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

A Quinnipiac poll released this morning showed a jump in Tom Corbett’s disapproval, however the Governor’s approval rating remains net positive.

According to the survey of 1,366 registered voters, Corbett enjoys a 39 – 37 percent approval rating. His disapproval has increased by 26 points since Quinnipiac’s February poll.

Corbett maintains positive ratings from Republicans (64 – 18 percent), independents (40 – 31 percent) and men (43 – 30 percent), but gets a 55 – 20 percent negative rating from Democrats and 43 – 36 rating from women.

Voter opinions of Corbett’s budget are more difficult to read.

Pennsylvania voters say 50 – 39 percent that Gov. Corbett’s budget-cutting proposals are unfair to “people like them,” and disapprove 52 – 35 percent of the way Corbett is handling the state budget. However, by 55 – 40 percent voters agree with his position that a tax hike is not necessary and believe by a margin of 55 – 39 percent that balancing the state budget should be done by spending cuts only and not by a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts.

In a sense, it reflects the argument Corbett has made since unveiling his budget proposal: voters elected him to make tough decisions, some of which are bound to be unpopular.

These numbers are also more favorable to the Governor than a poll earlier this month from Public Policy Polling, which showed voters disapproving of Corbett by a 34 – 44 percent margin.

Indeed, while a drop from February, Corbett’s numbers are fairly decent by comparison to other governors in the country.

“Although Gov. Tom Corbett’s numbers are not impressive by traditional standards, they are a good deal better than many of the new Republican governors around the country who are offering a similar approach of no new taxes and large spending cuts,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Here are some of the specific budget issues and how they polled:
Oppose 50 – 43 percent state worker layoffs;
Oppose 53 – 36 percent selling or leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike;
Support 64 – 28 percent selling state liquor stores;
Oppose 64 – 32 percent cutting state funding for state and state-related universities;
Support 68 – 27 percent freezing the wages of state employees;
Support 69 – 22 percent instituting a new tax on companies drilling for natural gas in the
state’s Marcellus Shale region.

From April 19 – 25, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,366 registered voters. The poll has margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones were used.

4/27 Morning Buzz

Fresh this morning, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Tom Corbett’s negatives are on the rise, though he still enjoys a net favorable approval rating. Voters are sending mixed messages about the budget and specific ways to decrease the deficit; they disapprove of the way Corbett is handling the process, but support his no-tax approach (except on Marcellus). At the end of the day, its probably a wash for the Governor.

The buzz in Harrisburg this week is all about Marcellus. PA Senate Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, whose district will be deeply affected by the development of gas drilling, is introducing a bill to institute an impact fee. People on every side of the issue will be watching closely. How flexible will the plan be? Will the bill seek to bring any revenue to Harrisburg? What will Governor Corbett say?

Scarnati’s office is content to let the anticipation build.

Those of you hoping to have a quiet campaign off-year will likely be disappointed. Both parties’ congressional campaign committees launched robocalls this this week targeting

And Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle is about to get a colorful new faculty member. P.J. Crawly, the former spokesman to Hillary Clinton who recently (and unceremoniously) departed the State Department, will join the school this semester.

Good morning politicos, and welcome to the buzz.

PoliticsPA Reports

Poll: Mixed Numbers for Governor Corbett
A Quinnipiac poll released this morning showed a jump in Tom Corbett’s disapproval, however the Governor’s approval rating remains net positive. In a sense, the numbers reflect the argument Corbett has made since unveiling his budget proposal: voters elected him to make tough decisions, some of which are bound to be unpopular.

Campaign Committees Launch Robocall Salvo
The Congressional campaign arms of both U.S. House caucuses have launched automated phone messages against several members of the Pennsylvania delegation.

Headlines
Tribune Review: Anticipation builds for Scarnati Marcellus impact fee bill
AP: Hillary Clinton’s Former Spokesman Takes Job at Penn State Law School
WHYY Newsworks: Nationwide Protests Bring Rallies For Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare To The Local Front
WHYY Newsworks: Sens. Casey and Toomey Take A Tour of the Navy Yard in Philly
Marketwatch: Report: Pa.’s Emergency Mortgage Program Cheaper
Times-Leader: Hearing set for Ciavarella Pension
ABC Pittsburgh: Gov. Corbett Tells Drillers In Pittsburgh He Opposes ‘Forced Pooling’
Capitol Ideas: Senate GOP To Unveil Impact Fee Proposal On Thursday
Capitol Ideas: Voucher Supporters Begin Direct Mail Campaign
Capitol Ideas: House Panel Moves EITC Legislation
Patriot-News: Education Rally Held On The Steps Of The State Capitol In Harrisburg
AP: Pa. Budget Proposal Would Hurt Court System, Judge Says
WHYY Newsworks: Pa. House Committee Approves Felony Charges For Teacher Sexual Assault Cases
Inquirer: Study: Pa. energy firms paid less in taxes than they said they did
Times-Tribune: State Geologists Mapping Deep Aquifiers
AP: Pa. Utility Regulator Cheers On Shale Drilling
Patriot-News: Act 47 team: No “magic bullets” for Harrisburg
PhillyNow: City’s Largest Union Endorses Mayor Nutter
PhillyClout: City white collar workers won’t endorse for Mayor
Inquirer: For once, Philadelphia Republicans Mount A Lively Council Race
Times-Leader: Wilkes-Barre Jobless Rate Falls to 8.7%
CBS Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Finds $6 Million to Pave Roads
Citizens’ Voice: Work continues at gas well blowout site
Citizens’ Voice: Casey, Toomey strike agreement on filling judge seats
Citizens’ Voice: Ciavarella won’t fight for $250K pension
Daily News: District 8 race draws pool of 7 Democratic challengers
Daily News: Sanchez gets Nutter backing
AP: Altoona changes its name to “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”
Post-Gazette: Married pairs decide to run for same office
Post-Gazette: Panel discusses transportation funding crisis

Opinions

Baer Growls: Beaver Power!
Fox Philadelphia: Is Philly Content With Political Corruption?
Jonathan Storm, Inquirer: Sam Katz’s Documentary On Philadelphia To Preempt Wheel of Fortune
Citizens’ Voice: To cut costs, look no further than bloated legislature
Tribune Review: Obama’s lack of Easter message is noteworthy

Campaign Committees Launch Robocall Salvo

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

To those who argue that new media and increasing partisanship are moving the country toward a permanent campaign, we submit the following.

The campaign arms of both U.S. House caucuses have launched automated phone messages against several members of the Pennsylvania delegation.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) are targeting members of Congress from swing districts. For Dems, that means a far longer list: Reps. Lou Barletta, Charlie Dent, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino and Pat Meehan. Republicans are targeting Rep. Jason Altmire.

Dems are focusing on Medicare, and their argument that the budget that recently passed the House (by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan) will end Medicare. The DCCC wouldn’t specify the exact size of the call, part of their “Drive to 25” campaign to flip 25 seats from red to blue, but confirmed that thousands of voters will receive the call per district.

Republicans are taking aim at Altmire’s budget votes. Specifically, the fact that he voted against each of the five major budget proposals from each party and caucus. According to the NRCC, about a thousand of the calls will go out to voters in the 4th district.

“These calls will remind voters of Rep. Altmire’s failure to help pay down our nation’s massive debt.  By refusing to support any budget, Jason Altmire continues to give the Obama Administration a blank check to spend recklessly and borrow more from China,” said NRCC spokesman Tory Mazzola.

Here is the call script for Rep. Dent’s district (chosen at random, the scripts for all seven Reps are identical).

Hi, this is Claire from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee calling about Congressman Charlie Dent’s vote to end Medicare.

Everyone agrees we must cut spending and tighten our belt, but Congressman Dent has made all the wrong choices.  Heactually voted to end Medicare, rather than end taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil making record profits or tax breaks for the ultra rich!

Seniors who pay a lifetime into Medicare deserve the benefits they’ve earned. Under the Dent-Republican plan Medicare ends, benefits to seniors are less, and costs to seniors increase – in order to pay for Big Oil taxpayer giveaways and the ultra rich’s tax breaks.

America is built on shared sacrifice.  Charlie Dent is choosing to place the burden on seniors.  That’s not right.

Please call Congressman Dent at (610) 861-9734 and tell him to keep his hands off our Medicare!

And here is the script against Rep. Altmire.

Hello, I’m calling from the National Republican Congressional Committee, 320 FRIST STREET NE, WASHINGTON, DC  20003, 202.479.7000 with an important recorded message about your Congressman, Jason Altmire.

Last year, while families were tightening their belts, Jason Altmire and Nancy Pelosi failed to pass a budget, and Washington Democrats continued to spend your money recklessly.

Last week, Altmire refused to vote for ANY of the five budget proposals that cut spending.  Some plans cut a little, some plans cut a lot – Altmire rejected all of them.  Keeping us deeper in debt to China.

Call Congressman Altmire at 202-225-2565 and tell him to get serious.  Paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.  202.479.7000.

4/26 Morning Buzz

Donald Trump’s path to the GOP nomination may have a road bump in Pennsylvania. It turns out Trump donated $32,000 to Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell, going well with his previous donations to Rahm Emanual, Chuck Schumer and Charlie Rangel.

Republican lawmakers continue to warm to a tax/impact fee on Marcellus shale. The AP reports that there is now majority support in the PA House and likely Senate for some kind of revenue generator from PA’s largest new industry.

Given recent news that some Republicans are wavering on SB1, the school vouchers bill, one conservative group is seeking to change the political calculus. The Citizens’ Alliance for Pennsylvania claims they’ve raised a million dollars and will recruit and fund a primary challenge to any Republican who opposes the measure.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a staunch supporter of 2010’s health care reform, is joining with Congressional Republicans to repeal a significant part of the law.

And finally, we’re continuing to get good responses for our Primary Contest, where our readers get the chance to play pundit. Who do you think will be the winners of these hot races around the state? The person who guesses the most races correctly out of our list here will win the coveted designation of PA’s Top Pundit, and a shout-out on PoliticsPA.

PoliticsPA Reports

Donald Trump Gave $32K to Rendell
Salon’s Steve Kornacki notes that Donald Trump donated $32,000 to Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell during his 2002 campaign for Governor, yet one more Democrat on Trump’s long list.

Schwartz Joins GOP to Repeal Provision of Heath Care Law
Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, has joined Congressional Republicans seeking to repeal a key element of the law.

Conservative Group Threatens to Primary Wavering Republicans Over Vouchers Vote
After PA Senate Republicans showed they weren’t yet sold on a school vouchers program, the conservative organization Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) today vowed to recruit and fund primary challengers to any Republican who votes against the bill.

Headlines
Early Returns: Rooney May Return To The U.S.
Tribune-Review: Rooney says he’s staying in Ireland
AP: Gov. Corbett Signs Repeal of Sprinkler Mandate
AP: Lawmakers (including Republicans) prepare bills to tax Marcellus gas
Early Returns: Gov. Corbett Says First Half Over In Budgetary Football Game
Politico: Liberal groups try to stoke town hall rage
Commonwealth Confidential: Moms Says Bake Sales Won’t Fill Education Budget Gap
State House Sound Bites: A Soft Launch For Corbett’s Transportation Commission
WHYY Newsworks: Lawmakers Move To Punish Court Fee Scofflaws
PhillyNow: Pa. Senators Introduce Medical Marijuana Bill
Times-Leader: Judge Issues Permanent Injunction On Sale of Bath Salts
Patriot-News: Harrisburg Water Situation Stable But ‘Beavergate’ Takes Off
Inquirer: Rise in Montgomery County Unaffiliated Voters A Mystery
WHYY Newsworks: Another Philadelphia Mayoral Candidate Steps Forward
Inquirer: Back Channels: GOP Candidates Who Could Shake Up Phila.
Daily News: In Q & A, Ramsey addresses hurdles facing his police department
Times-Tribune: Scranton City Council Democratic Candidates Perspectives On City Future Differ
Times-Tribune: It’s Snowing Politics in Scranton City Council
Delaware County Times: Darby Dems Poised For Primary Showdown
Delaware County Times: Four Dems Look To Gain Posts In Media
Delaware County Times: Political Signs Damaged, Stolen in Haverford
Inquirer: Philly’s black residents now top all groups
Inquirer: Nutter orders probe of King charter school flap
PhillyClout: Nutter to endorse Sanchez in the 7th district tonight
Post-Gazette: Governor’s transportation group sets goal
Post-Gazette: 4 vying for East End district judge seat
Post-Gazette: Patricia Sheridan’s Breakfast with Pittsburgh native Ron Paul
Post-Gazette: Court backs Erie County Councilman in free speech case
Citizens’ Voice: House GOP touts legislative accomplishments
Times Leader: Bar panel to discuss amending constitution
Times Leader: End near for drill pollution
Times Leader: Past GOP tactic useless to Dems
The Morning Call: Corbett signs his first bill into law
Patriot-News: EPA investigating Marcellus fracking spill in Bradford County

Opinions
Baer Growls: Two Sens(e)
Times-Tribune: Recycle State Recycling Law
Dave Davies, WHYY Newsworks: The Nutter Slate Emerges
Patriot-News Editorial: Off-color: New terrorism alert system is welcome change
John Baer, Daily News: We suffer at home as foreign wars drain our tax dollars
The Morning Call: Corbett budget cuts foundation
Inquirer Editorial: Bass best for Eighth
Daily News Editorial: Fail to raise the debt ceiling and it will cave in

Salon: Donald Trump Gave $32K to Rendell

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Donald Trump has come under fire for his large donations to Democrats, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Charlie Rangel. He gave to Dems, Trump has said, in races where Republicans have no chance.

Well Salon’s Steve Kornacki has poked a hole in that argument, noting that Trump donated $27,000 to Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell during his 2002 campaign for Governor well before Rendell was certain to win, and $5,000 in 2003 after he became Governor.

You should read the entire piece.

To sum it up, Kornacki suggests (probably accurately) that it was a business decision for Trump. Rendell was the pro-casino candidate, and Trump had an interest in competing for some of PA’s gaming licenses (he was later shut out).

Nonetheless, it’s another name in a long list that Trump will need to live down.

Conservative Group Threatens to Primary Wavering Republicans Over Vouchers Vote

By Laura Bonawits, Contributing Writer

After PA Senate Republicans showed they weren’t yet sold on a school vouchers program, the conservative organization Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania (CAP) today vowed to recruit and fund primary challengers to any Republican who votes against the bill.

According to CAP, Senate Bill 1, would improve education without increasing taxes by providing vouchers to allow low- and middle-income parents to send children to private, parochial and out-of-district public schools.

“CAP will target for defeat in the 2012 primary election any Republican Senator or Representative who bows to Pennsylvania’s entrenched teachers’ union and opposes Senate Bill 1,” the group announced. “CAP will actively recruit and fund candidates to challenge Republican opponents of SB 1.  To date, CAP has raised $1 million for this purpose, and this figure grows steadily each day.”

Joe Sterns, CAP’s Executive Director, says CAP won’t reveal its donors. However, lest anyone doubt the heavy campaign money on the issue, the Tribune Review reports that voucher proponents contributed $6.4 million to campaigns in 2010 (including $3.4 million to SB1 sponsor Sen. Anthony Williams).

“The long and short of it is that you have some career politicians who believe that appeasing the labor union bosses is the surest path to re-election, which is their top concern, not the taxpayers or children.  So CAP is here to change the paradigm by recruiting and funding primary opposition to these career politicians,”  Sterns said.

While CAP points the finger at career politicians kowtowing to unions, the bill is a bit more complicated for Republicans representing rural areas. With few private schools to choose from and a majority of students attending public schools in rural districts, those Republicans are being asked to vote for a bill that would ultimately serve little benefit for their constituents.

CAP says the act wouldn’t change anything for parents satisfied with their children’s current education, but would end “the costly death grip that unionized government schools have on our education system.”

“CAP is optimistic that SB 1 will be enacted into law,” Sterns said. “We recognize that the votes in both chambers are potentially close, closer than they should ultimately be with Republicans having their largest majorities in several decades, coupled with an electorate thirsting for an end to the labor union’s costly grip on our tax dollars, our schools, and our children.”

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

Schwartz Joins GOP to Repeal Provision of Heath Care Law

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act, has joined Congressional Republicans seeking to repeal a key element of the law.

At issue is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel charged with keeping down the costs of federal health programs.

Republicans have IPAB in their sights. Of the 81 cosponsors to the bill to repeal the IPAB, just four are Democrats including Schwartz. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), this bill’s sponsor, boasts a 97 percent party loyalty score according to the Washington Post.

Conversely, President Obama has been vocal in his support, even supporting expansions to the panel.

During the debate over health care, Republicans argued that Congress would never have the political will to cut Medicare spending. The IPAB was an important part of Democrats’ counterargument that the health care law would reduce the deficit.

Schwartz (D-Montgomery/Phila) voted for the health care law, but says the IPAB is an illegitimate cession of Congress’s oversight role to unelected bureaucrats.

“Congress is a representative body and must assume responsibility for legislating sound health care policy for Medicare beneficiaries, including those policies related to payment systems,” the Congresswoman wrote in her announcement of cosponsorship. “Abdicating this responsibility, whether to insurance companies or an unelected commission, would undermine our ability to represent the needs of the seniors and disabled in our communities.”

The IPAB is a fifteen member, bi-partisan panel charged with recommending changes to the payment structure of federal health programs. If costs grow faster than certain benchmarks, and Congress fails to implement its own payment plan, the board’s recommendations would take effect without direct Congressional approval.

Supporters, including the Washington Post Editorial Board, say that its an essential cost-cutting measure that takes politics out of the equation.

“Ordinarily, we cheer the increasingly rare occasions when Republicans and Democrats join forces to push legislation. Not this time. The concept behind the IPAB is to bring some intelligent cost-cutting discipline to Medicare reimbursement and insulate payment decisions from politics.”

In either case, cosponsoring H.R. 452 seems like an odd marriage for Schwartz. She was a vocal supporter of the health care reform law, and she has accused the GOP of seeking to end Medicare as we know it. Her position seemed so unlikely to one liberal writer that he suggested the Congresswoman could have a conflict of interest due to her campaign contributions from the health care industry.

“Why does Schwartz want to get rid of IPAB?” wrote Johnathan Cohn of the New Republic. “In a letter announcing her intentions, Schwartz said it was undemocratic to hand over that authority to a commission. And that’s a legitimate (if, in my view, unpersuasive) argument. But a quick look at Schwartz’s campaign finance history, from OpenSecrets.Org, shows that she receives a great deal of support from the health care industry.”

“It’s the health care industry (hospitals, drug makers, insurers) that would feel the brunt of IPAB cost-cutting efforts, since the law prohibits the commission from altering benefits directly or imposing higher financial costs on beneficiaries. Of course, I have no way of knowing how, if at all, donations from such groups influence Schwartz on this matter.”

Since 2004, Schwartz has received $603,179 from health care professionals and PACs. The medical issue group is third in donations to Schwartz, behind the $1.8 million contributed by lawyers and law firms, and the $1.45 million from women’s issues donors. Also relevant to Medicare, Schwartz has received $524,900 from retirees.

Rep. Schwartz flatly rejects the suggestion that her position on the issue is a conflict of interest.

“I have strong relationships with the teaching hospital, the community hospital, researchers, that whole community,” she said.

“I’ve always been absolutely clear that I support legislation based on the issues and the substance. That being said, there are people who support me who agree with me, and there are people who support me who don’t agree with me.”

Schwartz also disagrees that IPAB is an essential element of health care reform. Rather, she says, it is a poorly constructed fail safe that comes last in line among reforms.

“The innovations [of the health care law] themselves will improve quality and outcomes, and reduce costs significantly in Medicare. It is far preferable to reduce costs by improve quality of care and reducing errors rather than reducing reimbursements for providers and hospitals. We’ve been trying that for ten years and it hasn’t worked.”

4/25 Morning Buzz

Over the weekend, freshman Reps. Lou Barletta and Pat Meehan found themselves fitting into a Democratic narrative of public backlash against GOP budget plans, specifically allegations that Republicans want to dismantle Medicare. Both Reps were challenged on the Ryan budget during town hall exchanges last week.

The Marcellus debate is taking a slightly new shape after the well blowout in Bradford County as the state ponders penalties. State Reps on both sides of the aisle are warming to stronger safety regulations for the industry. The lack of a severance tax, which the Patriot News editorialized was a sign of poor leadership on Corbett’s part, seems unlikely to change at present.

Finally, have you wondered about the free-for-all in Luzerne County?  The Times Leader takes a look at some of the candidates in the race for County Council (see below).

Good morning politicos, and welcome to the buzz.

Headlines
The Big Tent: Rick Santorum Supports The Ryan/House Republican Budget
The Hill: Rep. Meehan & Rep. Barletta Targets of Democrats and Allies Hoping To Flip The Script On Town-Hall Rage
Politico: Freshman Republicans Feel The Heat Back Home (with quotes from the Barletta town hall)
Politico: Santorum: I made Medicare ‘mistake’
AP: Gov. Corbett Names Pa. Transportation Funding Advisers
AP: Pa. Legislature Might Find Savings Close To Home
AP: Pa. Legislature’s size, cost are criticized
Tribune-Review: The Conservative Wave Seems To Have Missed Pa.
Post-Gazette: State Takes Latest Stab In Trying To Fix State’s Transportation Woes With A Transportation Funding Commission Created By The Governor
AP: Report: No Alert Before Water Main Broke In Harrisburg
Times-Tribune: Education Supporters Gather In Scranton To Protest State Cuts
Citizens Voice: Senate To Debut Impact Fee Proposal
Post-Gazette: State Ponders Penalties After Well Blowout
Inquirer: Phila. Airport Heralded As Retail Hub
Daily News: GOP Facing Stiff Competition For At-Large City Council Seat
Inquirer: Mayor Nutter’s Council Choices Say There’s No Tasco Deal
Inquirer: Judge Orders Convicted Felon Matos To Give Up Ward Leader Post
Delaware County Times: District Judge’s Race Features Newcomers To The Political Scene
Delaware County Times: Liquor Referendum On Ballot In Swarthmore
Times Leader: House Republicans facing backlash at home over federal budget plan
Times Leader: Social media have rewritten political rules
Times Leader: Gorko vows to fight corruption
Times Leader: McGinley says county in crisis
Times Leader: Giamber familiar with home rule
Times Leader: Fiorucci promises to inform  public
Times Leader: Sorokas eager to become involved
Times Leader: Rovinski hopes to restore faith
Times Leader: Padavan looks at spending cuts
Post-Gazette: McCullough faces challenges in Allegheny County executive race
Post-Gazette: State takes newest stab at healing transit woes
Post-Gazette: Corbett names commission on transportation funding
Post-Gazette: House members say shale legislation needed

Opinions
Tribune-Review: Marcellus Shale Is A Job Creator In Pa.
WHYY Newsworks: A Philly Ailment – Corruption Fatigue
Times-News: Political Leaders Need To Act On Bosworth Report
Times Leader: Candidates galore and a meeting for every one Joe Butkiewicz opinion
Patriot-News: Corbett’s reluctance to tax drillers undermines confidence in his leadership
Times-Tribune: Distracted lawmaking
Post-Gazette Editorial: Kraus in District 3: The councilman deserves the Democratic nod

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