Dems Pick Their Man for DePasquale Seat

Kevin Schreiber portrait

Kevin Schreiber

Eugene DePasquale has yet to vacate his state House seat and step into his new role as Auditor General, but York County Democrats have already selected their de facto nominee.

Kevin Schreiber, 32, presently serves as the Director of the Economic Development Department in York’s Redevelopment Authority.

“I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement given to me by my wife, Jen, my family, mentors, colleagues, friends, residents of our community, Mayor Bracey, Commissioner Hoke and Auditor General-Elect DePasquale,” said Schreiber in a York Democratic Party press release. “I want to thank everyone for their affirmation and insight. Eugene DePasquale has done an excellent job representing our District, and I would be honored to serve, following in his footsteps. I will proceed with my due diligence to ensure I am fully prepared to hit the ground running on behalf of our people of the 95th.”

The Democrats are getting a head start, having all but selected Schreiber before a special actually has been called.

The Speaker of the House will detail the timeline for a special election soon after DePasquale officially vacates the office. Most expect that the election will take place in March.

Since the 95th district – comprising the city of York and its suburbs – is contained within a single county, the county party will convene a nominating meeting. There, committee members who reside in the 95th will vote to recommend a candidate. That recommendation will go to the state party which is likely to approve it.

The party solicited letters of intent from prospective candidates after DePasquale’s Auditor win in November. The party’s press release says other candidates withdrew after Schreiber made his interest public – as well as his endorsements from DePasquale and York Mayor Kim Bracey.

“He is heavily involved in the community and is well respected by his peers and colleagues. I am confident this respect will carry forward with him to the Pennsylvania State House,” said York Dems Chair Bob Kefauver said of Schreiber.

County Dems will host a public forum with Schreiber on January 8th. If selected, they’ll officially submit his name after the special is called.

HD95 2001 v 2011

Only one part of HD-95, the northern portion in green, would leave the district under the latest reapportionment plan.

The 95th district has been in Democratic hands for nearly three decades; the party enjoys a 29 point edge in voter registration (57 percent to 28 percent). Additionally, it’s one of the least-altered districts under the proposed redistricting plan.

That said, Republicans tend to perform better in low turnout special elections and a run at the seat wouldn’t be inconceivable, given a strong candidate.

York GOP Chairman Bob Wilson says his party hasn’t yet officially solicited interest from prospective candidates.

“Since we still do not know when the Speaker will call for a special election, and although while we have received a few letters of intent; we do not intend to release any official call for letters of intent until after the New Year,” said Wilson.

Democrats have also chosen a candidate for Pa.’s other forthcoming state house special election, which will replace state Senator-elect Matt Smith. They’ve tapped Dan Miller, an attorney and Smith’s longtime political ally.

Republicans in HD-42 also have not chosen a candidate.

Politically Uncorrected: In 2013 Expect the Unexpected

Terry Madonna

Terry Madonna

In 2012, Pennsylvania had quite a year, not a year everyone will want to remember, but certainly a year few will be able to forget. Consider some of the highlights of a year filled with dramatic, often disturbing and frequently surprising moments.

Early in the year, a beloved football icon dies in the midst of a messy investigation involving embarrassing questions about how his program may have abetted the decade’s long career of a notorious pedophile. Later in the year, that pedophile’s public trial and conviction attracted vast national attention, mesmerizing the state’s media and much of its citizenry more than any trial in memory.

In electoral politics, a former Pennsylvania U. S. Senator, possessing little organization or money and rejected by voters for reelection only six years earlier, nevertheless, makes an unlikely run for the GOP nomination for president, coming closer to winning than any Pennsylvanian in fifty years.

Then in July, the long awaited “Freeh report,” authored by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, was released, pouring scathing criticism on Penn State University for “callous and shocking” efforts to cover up child sexual abuse allegations in order to avoid bad publicity. In early November, former Penn State president Graham Spanier was indicted for what one source called a “conspiracy of silence” in the case.

Along the way, former state legislators continue to fill out change of address forms after conviction for various and sundry offenses in the seemingly perpetual “bonusgate scandal.” Among the political casualties are two former Speakers of the House.

Meanwhile, a political neophyte, Kathleen Kane, becomes the first Democrat ever to win election to the office of attorney general, leading the Democratic ticket, garnering more votes than Barack Obama or Bob Casey.

And these are just the highlights of this tempestuous year.

What most, if not all, of these epochal events have in common is that they were not predictable. But that hardly makes 2012 an unusual year. A truly unusual year would be one we “know” what will happen and it does. There aren’t many years like that, and we expect 2013 won’t be one of them. In short, Pennsylvania watchers should expect the unexpected in 2013. In that spirit, we offer a lucky seven things that won’t happen in Pennsylvania in 2013. We expect they won’t, which means some of them probably will.

Pennsylvania’s most improbable probabilities for 2013

· Governor Tom Corbett, emulating his secret hero LBJ (who knew?) announces he will not run for reelection so he can work on the mountain of problems confronting the state. The governor endorses no successor preferring to avoid distractions to his work.

· The Pennsylvania legislature gets religious on gun control, passing one of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The state’s NRA applauds the legislature’s leadership on the issue, announcing it will support “generously” for reelection each legislator who votes for tougher gun regulations.

· Pennsylvania’s dire pension crisis abates as a resurgent economy and the biggest bull market since World War II erases funding shortfalls taking the pressure off both the state and local school districts. State employee unions volunteer to scale back pension benefits to guarantee future stability of the system.

· Pennsylvania’s controversial Voter ID law is rescinded as supporters publicly acknowledge it as unworkable. One leading state Republican is quoted as saying, “giving up voter suppression tactics might not be the smart thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.”

· The state legislature votes to reduce the size of legislature by 50 percent. The popular proposal goes to the electorate as a constitutional amendment. Some 100 legislators have voluntarily agreed to give up their seats and return to private life to make the transition as smooth as possible. At least a dozen plan early resignations.

· Simultaneously, the state legislature votes for term limits that will limit a house member to four two-year terms and a senator to two four-year terms. Members will not be eligible for reelection again in their lifetimes, and the General Assembly will officially be designated a “citizens legislature.” Pensions for legislators are abolished and campaign funds remaining upon a member’s retirement will go to the state’s general fund.

· Pursuing a package of electoral reforms, the General Assembly caps it by passing the strictest campaign finance law in the nation, sharply limiting the sources and uses of campaign contribution, making it illegal for lobbyists to contribute to any campaign and authorizing the state auditor general to audit campaign contributions made to any elected official.

· Pennsylvania adopts Senator Pileggi’s Electoral College proposal, awarding future electoral votes proportionately according to the popular vote. Pennsylvania initiates a wave of change in states controlled by Republicans.

If most of these forecasts seem unlikely in 2013, that’s really the point. A year ago, how many of the events recounted above were predicted or expected? Yogi Berra said it best: “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

If we expect the unexpected in 2013, we aren’t likely to be disappointed.

2012 Ups & Downs

Another election is in the books. See who had a good year in 2012, and who wishes the Mayans were right.

Republicans. For the first time in decades (at least), the party lost every statewide office in Pa. this year. It’s a testament both to the Dem state party’s efforts to reorganize after 2010 as well as the boon that is Philadelphia. The President, Senator Casey and the row office candidates made it look easy. The GOP also had its biggest slip in the Pa. Senate in years. They held the line in the state House and expanded their congressional delegation, but the top ticket races made the state look very blue. And that brings us to…

Pennsylvania. A top tier battleground state for a generation, Pa. slid big time in 2012. From June until nearly November, both parties largely ignored the state. Only a final week ad blitz by the GOP and a visit from Mitt Romney helped TV stations cut their advertising revenue losses. And if the Dems nominate Hillary in 2016, it’s very tough to imagine the GOP doing much better.

Incumbents. After three straight years of wave elections, voters finally realized that neither party has a monopoly on overpromising. Only two incumbents lost on election day in November (U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Cambria, and state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montco). Just five state reps and one member of Congress lost primaries (two if you count U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire).

Pa. Journalism. Not just one but two Pulitzer Prizes. That’s Pennsylvania’s record in 2012. The Harrisburg Patriot-News won the prize for breaking the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the Philadelphia Inquirer won for exposing violence in city schools. Plus StateImpactPA just won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for its coverage of Marcellus shale development.

Voter ID. The controversial measure was poised to take effect for the November election, but a series of problems on the part of the administration earned it a boot from state judges. At every turn it appeared the state had underestimated the number of voters without ID and hadn’t solved the logistical problems of getting photo ID to citizens. Plus, Democrats took full advantage of the issue to rally their base, especially in the African American community. All that said, Voter ID proponents will have the last laugh. The law is slated to be in place for 2013.

Luke Ravenstahl. It will be hard for any challenger to topple the incumbent mayor when, by most accounts, Pittsburgh is doing pretty well. The Brookings Institution report found the city is one of just three in the country that has fully recovered from the recession. And it’s been racking up accolades like “most livable city” from Forbes. It would be hard for any challenger, but even harder if all three potential opponents get in the race for the 2013 primary.

Legislative Reapportionment Commission. It’s not very often that the Pa. Supreme Court throws out a redistricting plan for state house and senate districts. In fact, it hadn’t happened since the current state constitution was adopted in 1968. But the Court sentenced the five members of the LRC and their staff to months of additional deliberations when 4 of 7 justices deemed the first version of the map divided too many municipalities. The decision, handed down around petition time, threw the entire election into chaos for weeks.

Kathleen Kane. Harrisburg will see lots of new faces next year, but none with the rock star potential of Kane. She shattered 30 years of precedent to become the first woman and first Democrat elected as Pa. Attorney General and won her race with the widest margin of victory of any statewide candidate. If she delivers on her first term as strongly as Democrats hope (and proves to be a sustained headache for Tom Corbett), don’t be surprised to see her land a prime time speaking spot at the DNC in 2016.

12/21 Morning Buzz

Hopefully their apocalypse-predicting techniques weren’t any better than their Spaniard-predicting techniques.

Hopefully their apocalypse-predicting techniques weren’t any better than their Spaniard-predicting techniques.

We wish you luck surviving the torrent of annoying Mayan-themed social media posts today. And we present our year-end Ups and Downs! Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz.

Editor’s note: PoliticsPA will be on hiatus for the holidays (though we’ll be on call for major political developments). Enjoy your time off from work and see you next year!

2012 Ups & Downs: Another election is in the books. See who had a good year in 2012, and who wishes the Mayans were right.

Debate: Leach v. Metcalfe on Guns: Mark this on your calendar. Polar opposites Daylin Leach and Daryl Metcalfe will debate gun control on Dom Giordano’s Radio Show, 1210 AM in the Philadelphia area.

House Rs Resurrect Congressional-Based Electoral College Plan: State Reps. Robert Godshall and Seth Grove want Pennsylvania to divvy ups its electoral college votes by congressional district. It’s a plan originally pitched by Sen. Dominic Pileggi in 2011 and would have nullified President Obama’s Pa. advantage had it been in effect in 2012.

Casey Flips, Supports Assault Weapons Ban: Sen. Bob Casey is the latest in a series of pro-gun Democrats to voice their support for new restrictions on firearms in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. He had previously opposed renewing the ban on assault weapons.

Simms to NRCC: Veteran operative Rob Simms, former COS to Rep. Bill Shuster and recently at Red Maverick Media, will join the National Republican Congressional Committee as its Political Director for the 2014 cycle.

Statewide
Capitol Ideas: Corbett defends donor-funded vacation to Rhode Island.
State House Sound Bites: Potential Lottery privatization timetable begins to buckle
PA Independent: PA puts state financial data online in the name of transparency
PA Independent: Lawmakers want prosecutors to look at incinerator financing
PA Independent: WATCHBLOG: Corbett defends free vacation to Rhode Island in 2011
StateImpactPA: While Touting Transparency, Corbett Declines to Explain Free Vacation
StateImpactPA: Researcher Theo Colborn Pleads with Obama to Help Stop Chemical Exposures
StateImpactPA: Electrical Issue Causes Emergency Shutdown at Wyoming County Gas Compressor Station
StateImpactPA: Ethics Filing Shows Corbett Took Free Vacation from Businessman with Ties to Gas Industry
Capitolwire: Rendell, company say he has no personal financial stake in Lottery deal.
Capitolwire: Corbett hints at extending Lottery bid deadline.
Capitolwire: Senate Democrats oppose separating mass transit from transportation funding plan.

Philadelphia
AP: Judges reject commuter tax plan in Scranton
AP: Altoona council approves distressed city plan
Inquirer: Property reassessment figures bolster Nutter’s position on AVI
Inquirer: SRC report: Ackerman directed award of no-bid contract
Inquirer: Former Delco prosecutor gets 4 to 8 months in hit-run
Daily News: City property-tax increases not so temporary
Daily News: City’s cost for rogue narcotics squad: $777,500
Daily News: Ramsey summoned to Washington to talk guns
Attytood: Natural-gas exec paid for Corbett 2011 vacation
Commonwealth Confidential: Corbett defends donor-paid vacation
Philly Clout: Police contract reopened, cops to get raises, will Nutter appeal?
Philly Clout: City unions taunt ‘Mayor Grinch’ with the ‘12 Days of Nutter’
WHYY Newsworks: Did the Romney campaign charge reporters $812 for lunch?
WHYY Newsworks: Opposition to Pa. Lottery begins to unite
Phillynow: Now Sen. Casey will support tougher gun laws
KYW Newsradio: Gov. Corbett says accepting free vacation trip was not improper

SEPA
Delco Daily Times: Ex-Delaware County ADA Michael Donohue sentenced to 4-8 months for hit-and-run
Delco Daily Times: Gov. Tom Corbett discloses trips paid for by businessman
Delco Daily Times: House GOP plans vote on fiscal cliff ‘Plan B’
Montgomery Media: Montco commissioners approve $39.8 million emergency radio system upgrade
Montgomery Media: Ambler Borough Council approves tax hike

Pittsburgh

Southwest
Beaver County Times: Mayor interrupts Fallston-Patterson merger
Beaver County Times: Senate Dems would borrow to pay for transportation work in 2013
Observer-Reporter: Hearing granted to unseal drilling settlement
Altoona Mirror: Act 47 recovery plan approved
Altoona Mirror: Local agencies concerned about ‘fiscal cliff’

NEPA
Times-Tribune: Corbett unveils state website for citizens
Citizens Voice: Corbett discloses trips paid for by businessmen
Daily Item: City council sets 2013 tax levy
Standard Speaker: Hazleton council makes no progress on 2013 budget

South Central
AP: Corbett to honor victims in Conn. school shooting
AP: Corbett unveils state website for citizens
AP: Corbett: Mental illness the issue in Conn. tragedy
AP: Pa. congressman unhappy with NCAA fine guidelines
AP: Corbett discloses trip paid for by businessman
The Patriot-News: Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t get a vote on Penn State’s President Rodney Erickson’s pay raise
The Patriot-News: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. fears fiscal cliff deal won’t get done
The Patriot-News: Cumberland County commissioner blames tax hike in part on state budget cuts
The Patriot-News: U.S. Sen. Bob Casey does U-turn to support assault-weapons ban
The Patriot-News: Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration seeks extension of deadline on outsourcing lottery management
The Patriot-News: Cumberland County commissioners approve 2013 budget with 12% tax hike
York Daily Record: Pennsylvania state senators win high-profiles appointments
York Daily Record: York County residents to see 8.9 percent tax hike; commissioner blames Gov. Corbett
Roxbury News: Governor Corbett is questioned on PSU prez Erickson’s 16% pay raise
Roxbury News: PA Governor Tom Corbett: Privatization of the Lottery
Roxbury News: PA Governor Tom Corbett: A paid vacation
Roxbury News: PA Governor Tom Corbett: Gun control

Lehigh Valley
The Morning Call: Bob Casey wants Hurricane Sandy relief
The Morning Call: Lehigh County voters could have more say in debt
Reading Eagle: Tax hike of nearly 70% enacted
Reading Eagle: Cell tower plan, budget approved
Reading Eagle: Budget gets nod; tax rate stays same
WFMZ: Bob Freeman reappointed committee chair
Express Times: Bethlehem Councilwoman Jean Belinski regrets vote on garbage switch

North by Northwest
Sun Gazette: Corbett: Watsontown businessman paid for 2 trips worth $2,300

Opinion
Philly Gay News: Picking the next Governor (spoiler: Allyson Schwartz)
Observer-Reporter: Unwanted victories for Mitt Romney
Altoona Mirror: Don’t rush gun controls
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: MICHAEL CONSEDINE | Pa. not playing games with health insurance
Inquirer: Inquirer Editorial: Ramsey is trying to get officers’ attention
Inquirer: Inquirer Editorial: State gun laws are too weak
The Patriot-News: Editorial: Why the rush on Pa. lottery privatization?
York Daily Record: Our take: Dick’s takes a market-based solution to gun issue
York Dispatch: Editorial: No, governor, now is the time for gun control discussion
Intelligencer Journal: Corbett decision on Obamacare

Blogs
Jon Geeting: Why PA Needs a Shared Service Bill
Keystone Progress: Today, Pennsylvania Congressional Republicans Face Two Tax Votes And One Clear Choice: Will They Stand With The Middle Class Or Millionaires?
Commonwealth Foundation: Principles for Transportation Funding
Keystone State Education Coalition: Ridge, Casey respond to Newtown school shootings: both would support ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips
Keystone Politics: Barry Schoch: Bike/Ped Funding Safe
Keystone Politics: Split Between Corbett and House GOP on Transit Funding
Keystone Politics: Boehner’s Plan B Only Uniting House Democrats
Keystone Politics: Pat Toomey Flashback: “My Idea of Gun Control Is a Steady Aim”
Keystone Politics: Liberals Need to Have Bob Casey’s Back on Changed Gun Safety Stance

Debate: Leach v. Metcalfe on Guns

Leach, left, and Metcalfe

Mark this on your calendar. Polar opposites Daylin Leach and Daryl Metcalfe will debate gun control on Dom Giordano’s Radio Show, 1210 AM in the Philadelphia area.

You can listen online here at 10:30am tomorrow (Friday the 21st).

The issue has become one of the most discussed in the country and in Pa. in the wake of the tragic school shootings in Newtown Connecticut.

As a refresher, Sen. Leach (D-Montco) has been a consistent voice for what liberals call gun safety and conservatives call gun control. He plans to introduce two new bills next session: one to limit the number of firearms purchases to one per month, another to mandate the reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 48 hours.

Rep. Metcalfe (R-Butler) is one of the legislature’s fiercest gun rights advocates. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer of such measures, “There will be no additional gun control in Pennsylvania. I will not allow the left to use this horrific act to advance their gun-grabbing agenda. The support is not there in Pennsylvania.”

House Rs Resurrect Congressional-Based Electoral College Plan

State Reps. Robert Godshall (R-Montco) and Seth Grove (R-York) want Pennsylvania to divvy ups its electoral college votes by congressional district. It’s a plan originally pitched by Sen. Dominic Pileggi in 2011 and would have nullified President Obama’s Pa. advantage had it been in effect in 2012.

In their co-sponsorship memo, they essentially concede that Pa. is no longer a competitive presidential state.

“I believe that the Congressional District Method will increase voter turnout and encourage candidates to campaign in all states rather than just those that are competitive,” the two wrote. “Most importantly, this method of selecting presidential electors will give a stronger voice to voters in all regions of our great Commonwealth.”

Read: Republicans are tired of voting for candidates who don’t win Pa.

Once a reliable battleground state, Pennsylvania spent most of the 2012 presidential campaign on the sidelines.

The plan would give one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district plus 2 for the winner statewide.

Obama won Pa. by about 310,000 votes – 5.4 percent. But it looks like he won just 5 congressional districts, giving him 7 electoral college votes (including his 2 for winning statewide) to Mitt Romney’s 13.

That’s because Republican map-drawers packed Democratic voters into high concentration urban districts. The state’s 13 Republican members of Congress won by an average of 19.5 percent; the closest margin, CD-13, was 3.4 points. The state’s 5 Democratic members of congress won by an average of 52.5 percent; the closest margin, CD-17, was 20.6 points. That’s an average difference of 33 points.

Editor’s note: we’re keeping our eye on the DailyKos tabulations of presidential vote by congressional district which so far have just 4 of 18 districts. The 6th, 7th and 15th districts are the only ones represented by a Republican Congressman where Obama conceivably could have won. The most interesting so far: Romney narrowly won Mike Fitzpatrick’s 8th congressional district, 49.4 percent to Obama’s 49.3 percent.

Pileggi’s plan lost steam back in 2011 and he recently introduced a modified version that would allocate electoral votes proportionally with no relation to congressional districts.

Meanwhile national Republicans are encouraging GOP state legislators to tinker with electoral college allocation in blue states like Pa., Michigan and Wisconsin.

Democratic critics note that no such effort is taking place in reliably Republican presidential states like Texas, where the same proposal would benefit Democratic candidates.

Casey Flips, Supports Assault Weapons Ban

Sen. Bob Casey is the latest in a series of pro-gun Democrats to voice their support for new restrictions on firearms in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. He had previously opposed renewing the ban on assault weapons.

He said he’d like to see a ban on assault weapons as well as high capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds per clip).

“If those two bills come before the Senate, I’ll vote for both,” Casey said in a lengthy sit-down interview with Jonathan Tamari of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“Work that we do doesn’t always bring you to that kind of deliberation or consideration. This has, for me, and I have to, and I think I should, vote that way on those two” measures, he said.

It’s a departure from his stance in the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado theatre shootings, when – campaigning for re-election – he said he’d still oppose such a ban.

Casey had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association in 2006 and a “B+” during the election this year. Despite a generally pro-incumbent approach, the NRA declined to make an endorsement in his campaign versus Republican Tom Smith.

He said the Newtown shooting was different from Aurora.

“The power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me. It should haunt every public official.”

“I’ve been around government and public policy a long time, and I can’t think of another time when I had these same feelings,” he said. “I don’t really care if people criticize me for having emotions about this. It probably helped me think about it in a different way.”

He said his wife Terese also challenged him to change his position.

He follows other Democratic Senators like Harry Reid of Nevada and Mark Warner of Virginia who have said recently that they would support such measures. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has sent mixed signals about his willingness to support such a move.

“There’s no question I’ll be open to criticism, and I understand that,” Casey said. “I just believe that in light of what’s happened, in light of measures we can take to lessen the chances that will happen [again], that these are two steps we can take.”

12/20 Morning Buzz

The proposed new state House map

The outlook for changes to gun laws, GOP Chair Gleason wants to re up, and a new Republican polling shop opens in Pa. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz.

Corbett, GOP Cool on New Gun Laws; Dems Push Ahead: Pennsylvania’s Democratic state and federal lawmakers are loudly calling for new legislation in the wake of the tragic Connecticut school shooting. Meanwhile their Republican counterparts are cautioning against rash action.

GOP Polling Alternative to PPP Opens Shop in PA: Exciting news for polling nerds! A Republican polling firm is opening shop to bring the successful methods of Public Policy Polling (PPP) to the GOP side of the aisle, and it’s coming to Harrisburg.

Gleason Wants Another Term at PAGOP: Rob Gleason wants another four years at the helm of the Pa. Republican Party, he wrote in a letter to state committee members. He and Vice Chair Joyce Haas are seeking another term.

State House & Senate Announce Committee Chairs for 2013/2014: There are few surprises and a few comic possibilities in the newly released list of state House and Senate committee chairs.

Statewide
Capitol Ideas: Corbett admin in discussions on potential extension of Lottery bid deadline.
Capitol Ideas: PA House names its committee chairs for 2013-14 legislative session.
Capitol Ideas: Senate Dems say mass-transit funding has to be part of any highway bill.
Capitol Ideas: Philly legislator plans assault weapons ban bill.
State House Sound Bites: Schools reviewing policies after Newtown shootings
State House Sound Bites: Secretary of Aging defends Lottery negotiations as talks begin to postpone decision
State House Sound Bites: House committee chairs announced
State House Sound Bites: Next session’s Senate Committee Chairs
PA Independent: Lawmakers promise transportation funding debate in new year
PA Independent: PLCB bureaucracy sets hours for holiday stores, promises more convenience
PA Independent: WATCHBLOG: Whose debt is it, anyway?
StateImpactPA: StateImpact Pennsylvania: Behind the Story
StateImpactPA: LNG Exports: The Winners and Losers
StateImpactPA: StateImpact Pennsylvania Wins duPont-Columbia Award
Capitolwire: Senate Democrats oppose separating mass transit from transportation funding plan.
Capitolwire: Corbett cautions on sprint for more gun control laws.
Capitolwire: POINT OF ORDER: Some potential gun laws are sensible, but likely wouldn’t have stopped Connecticut tragedy.

Philadelphia
Inquirer: Sen. Bob Casey changes stance, supports new gun laws
Inquirer: SRC report: Ackerman directed award of no-bid contact
Inquirer: Ramsey asked to join national gun violence discussion
Philly Clout: Nutter talks property-tax overhaul with Council, provides some data
Philly Clout: When it comes to crime-fighting, legislation may not always be the answer
Philly Clout: Ethics board to crack down on outside-spending groups that break the rules
Philly Clout: State launches new parks and rec website
Philly Clout: State Sen. Farnese pushing for Pa. assault-weapons ban
Philly Clout: City union calls Mayor Nutter a grinch, will taunt with Christmas carols Thursday
WHYY Newsworks: No extra property taxes for schools in Nutter proposal
Philadelphia Weekly: Key Takeaways From the City’s Roundtable Discussion on Reducing Gun Violence
KYW Newsradio: Pennsylvania Senator Casey Says He Would Now Support Gun Bills
KYW Newsradio: Police Commissioner Ramsey To Join President Obama’s Effort To Curb Gun Violence
KYW Newsradio: Philadelphia Shows Off Its Newly Renovated Emergency Operations Center

SEPA
Delco Daily Times: No ‘fiscal cliff’ deal yet; House GOP focuses on backup plan
Delco Daily Times: Obama: ‘Pretty close’ to deal with Boehner on ‘fiscal cliff’
Bucks Local News: Yardley Borough Council approves two-year contract with its chief of police

Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette: Obama sets January deadline for gun proposals
Post-Gazette: Robert Bork, Supreme Court nominee, dies
KDKA: Congressman Murphy and Doyle react to president’s speech
Early Returns: Chairs named for house, senate
Early Returns: Report: “massive confusion” over voter ID

Southwest
Beaver County Times: Senate Dems would borrow to pay for transportation work in 2013
Observer-Reporter: Carmichaels Borough adopts budget with no tax increase
Altoona Mirror: Vote on Act 47 plan coming today
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Altoona council to vote on Act 47 plan approval

NEPA
Times Leader: Barletta announces new office locations
Times Tribune: PA. Sen. Casey says he would now support gun bills
Citizens Voice: County Council OKs $18M in loans
Standard Speaker: Ryan Township supers adopt budget without tax increase
Pocono Record: Rep. Charlie Dent co-sponsors gay rights immigration bill

Lehigh Valley
Pennsylvania Ave: Bob Casey wants Hurricane Sandy relief
Morning Call: PA Senate Democrats expect debate on transportation funding

South Central
AP: Pa. Sen. Casey says he would now support gun bills
AP: Pa. in discussion to extend lottery bid deadline
AP: Pa. woman wants judge removed from murder case
AP: Ex-Pa. Rep. Bill DeWeese appeals corruption conviction, claiming judge errors
Harrisburg Patriot News: Analysis: Reaction to Connecticut shootings show political cowardice of Boehner, Obama, and NRA
Harrisburg Patriot News: Ex-Gov. Tom Ridge on gun control: ‘It’s a little more complicated than just bans and background checks’
Harrisburg Patriot News: Former PA Corrections Secretary Jeffrey Beard tapped to lead California prison system
Harrisburg Patriot News: Dauphin County commissioners approve budget for 2013 without tax increase
York Daily Record: York City schools’ recovery officer introduces process
York Dispatch: York City gets financial recovery committee
York Dispatch: York County commissioners adopt code of conduct
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Judges reject commuter tax plan in Scranton, Pa.
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: Altoona council to vote on Act 47 plan approval
Roxbury News: Dauphin County commissioners pass 2013 budget
Roxbury News: The Pennsylvania House of Representatives announces House committee chairs
Roxbury News: The Pennsylvania Senate announces standing committee chairs
Roxbury News: Dauphin County to make another bond payment for Harrisburg University
Today’s the Day Harrisburg: 2013 City of Harrisburg budget is passed, end of 2012

North by Northwest
Sun Gazette: Mayor refuses to sign city’s 2013 budget

Opinions
Tribune Review: Kill the film tax credit
Post-Gazette: A crowded mayoral field will offer no alternative
Inquirer: Inquirer Editorial: Don’t drag feet reviewing court nominations
Daily News: DN Editorial: It’s time to add mental-health data to gun database
Harrisburg Patriot News: Editorial: The time has come to do what’s right on guns, mental health
York Daily Record: Out take: Homeland Security still wasting tax dollars
York Dispatch: Editorial: No time for school boards to entertain wishes
Lancaster New Era: Why keep the Electoral College
Intelligencer Journal: Enough killing

Blogs
Keystone Politics: Michael Lamb Should Drop Out of the #PGHMayor Race
Keystone Politics: Hail Isaiah Thompson! AxisPhilly Delivers the Assessment Explainer You Need
Keystone Politics: Larry Farnese Takes the Lead on Gun Safety in PA Senate
Keystone Politics: The Unaccountable Judicial Branch
Keystone Politics: The Affordable Housing Coalition We Need
Keystone Politics: Senate Democrats’ Plan for PA’s Distressed Older Cities Falls Far Short of What’s Needed
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Will Allentown City Council Protect Right to Water and Sanitation?

State House & Senate Announce Committee Chairs for 2013/2014

House Speaker Sam Smith

House Speaker Sam Smith and Senate President pro tempore Joe Scarnati Wednesday announced the chairs for each committee in the state House and Senate.

Some of the names that stand out are Rep. Dick Hess (R-Fulton) who will take over for Rep. Rick Geist (R-Blair) as the chair of the Transportation Committee – one that promises to be very busy next session. Geist lost the GOP primary in April.

Rep. Ron Miller (R-York) will take over for Scott Hutchinson as chair of Environmental Resources and Energy. He’ll sit opposite Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) who will take over for retiring Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield). Hutchinson was elected to the state Senate. Miller’s vacancy on Labor and Industry went to Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe).

Not wanting to mess with success, Democrats hilariously selected Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Phila) to serve opposite Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) in the State Government Committee.

On the state Senate side, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) will take over for Jeff Piccola as chair of the Education Committee.

The assignments are unofficial until they’re announced on the floor.

Here’s the full list from Speaker-designate Smith.

Aging and Older Adult Services:

  • Republican: Rep. Tim Hennessey, 26th legislative district, Chester County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Steve Samuelson, 135th legislative district, Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Agriculture and Rural Affairs:

  • Republican: Rep. John Maher, 40th legislative district, Allegheny and Washington counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Joseph Petrarca, 55th legislative district, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties.

Children and Youth:

  • Republican: Rep. Kathy Watson, 144th legislative district, Bucks County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Louise Bishop, 192nd legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Commerce:

  • Republican: Rep. Chris Ross, 158th legislative district, Chester County.
  • Democrat: Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, 181st legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Consumer Affairs:

  • Republican: Rep. Robert Godshall, 53rd legislative district, Montgomery County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Peter J. Daley, 49th legislative district, Fayette and Washington counties.

Education:

  • Republican: Rep. Paul Clymer, 145th legislative district, Bucks County.
  • Democrat: Rep. James Roebuck, 188th legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Environmental Resources and Energy:

  • Republican: Rep. Ron Miller, 93rd legislative district, York County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Greg Vitali, 166th legislative district, Delaware County.

Finance:

  • Republican: Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, 171st legislative district, Centre and Mifflin counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Phyllis Mundy, 120th legislative district, Luzerne County.

Game and Fisheries:

  • Republican: Rep. Martin Causer, 67th legislative district, Cameron, Potter and McKean counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Gary Haluska, 73rd legislative district, Cambria County.

Gaming Oversight:

  • Republican: Rep. Tina Pickett, 110th legislative district, Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Rosita Youngblood, 198th legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Health:

  • Republican: Rep. Matt Baker, 68th legislative district, Bradford and Tioga counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Flo Fabrizio, 2nd legislative district, Erie County.

Human Services:

  • Republican: Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, 18th legislative district, Bucks County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Angel Cruz, 180th legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Insurance:

  • Republican: Rep. Nick Micozzie, 163rd legislative district, Delaware County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Tony DeLuca, 32nd legislative district, Allegheny County.

Judiciary:

  • Republican: Rep. Ron Marsico, 105th legislative district, Dauphin County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, 127th legislative district, Berks County.

Labor and Industry:

  • Republican: Rep. Mario Scavello, 176th legislative district, Monroe County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Bill Keller, 184th legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Liquor Control:

  • Republican: Rep. John Taylor, 177th legislative district, Philadelphia County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Paul Costa, 34th legislative district, Allegheny County.

Local Government:

  • Republican: Rep. Kate Harper, 61st legislative district, Montgomery County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Bob Freeman, 136th legislative district, Northampton County.

Professional Licensure:

  • Republican: Rep. Julie Harhart, 183rd legislative district, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Harry Readshaw, 36th legislative district, Allegheny County.

State Government:

  • Republican: Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, 12th legislative district, Butler County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Mark Cohen, 202nd legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Tourism and Recreational Development:

  • Republican: Rep. Jerry Stern, 80th legislative district, Bedford and Blair counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, 159th legislative district, Delaware County.

Transportation:

  • Republican: Rep. Dick Hess, 78th legislative district, Bedford, Fulton and Huntingdon counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Michael P. McGeehan, 173rd legislative district, Philadelphia County.

Urban Affairs:

  • Republican: Rep. Keith Gillespie, 47th legislative district, York County.
  • Democrat: Rep. Ted Harhai, 58th legislative district, Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness:

  • Republican: Rep. Stephen E. Barrar, 160th legislative district, Chester and Delaware counties.
  • Democrat: Rep. Chris Sainato, 9th legislative district, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

And here’s the list from Scarnati:

  • Aging & Youth – Senator Bob Mensch (R-24)
  • Agriculture & Rural Affairs – Senator Elder A. Vogel, Jr. (R-47)
  • Appropriations – Senator Jake Corman (R-34)
  • Banking & Insurance – Senator Don White (R-41)
  • Communications & Technology – Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-40)
  • Community, Economic & Recreational Development – Senator Kim L. Ward (R-39)
  • Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure – Senator Robert M. Tomlinson (R-6)
  • Education – Senator Mike Folmer (R-48)
  • Environmental Resources & Energy – Senator Gene Yaw (R-23)
  • Finance – Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36)
  • Game & Fisheries – Senator Richard Alloway (R-33)
  • Intergovernmental Operations – Senator-elect Scott E. Hutchinson (R-21)
  • Judiciary – Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-12)
  • Labor & Industry – Senator John R. Gordner (R-27)
  • Law & Justice – Senator Charles T. McIlhinney, Jr. (R-10)
  • Local Government – Senator John H. Eichelberger, Jr. (R-30)
  • Public Health & Welfare – Senator Patricia H. Vance (R-31)
  • Rules & Executive Nominations – Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-9)
  • State Government – Senator Lloyd K. Smucker (R-13)
  • Transportation – Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R-44)
  • Urban Affairs & Housing – Senator David G. Argall (R-29)
  • Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness – Senator Lisa Baker (R-20)

GOP Polling Alternative to PPP Opens Shop in PA

Exciting news for polling nerds! A Republican polling firm is opening shop to bring the successful methods of Public Policy Polling (PPP) to the GOP side of the aisle, and it’s coming to Harrisburg.

Brock McCleary spent two cycles at the National Republican Congressional Committee, and announced just two weeks ago that he’s leaving his position as polling director and deputy executive director to join the firm Long, Nyquist & Associates.

He is the man behind Harper Polling (named for his young daughter). He sees himself watching the issues of the day. Mike Long and Todd Nyquist are partners in the firm.

“I’m more interested in who’s winning the day from a messaging perspective,” he says, such as the impending fiscal cliff showdown. The firm will focus on policy organizations and issue groups. The firm will conduct head-to-head polls as well.

Interactive voice response (IVR) polling had a good year in 2012 with PPP at the vanguard. The North Carolina-based firm with a Democratic lean was rated most accurate in the nation by a Fordham University study in November.

That’s the approach McCleary and Harper Polling want to adopt. Of the top five pollsters, just one – Ipsos/Reuters – relied on traditional call operations.

IVR differs from traditional polling primarily because it uses a computer program and voice recognition software, not a live person, to interact with poll respondents. Because the calls are computer generated, polls can be conducted faster and at a fraction of the cost.

“I’m complimented by [the comparison to PPP],” McCleary said. “Their accuracy cannot be denied.”

Harper will rely on vendors to conduct the calls, but McCleary wants to grow his fledgling firm in other areas.

“There’s a lot that goes into this. Script-writing, data analysis, more.”

Would he like to see resumes from campaign operatives coming off of the 2012 cycle? “Yes,” he laughed.

He’ll also continue to consult for Long/Nyquist.

In a Politico article on the firm Wednesday, McCleary and others emphasized that IVR polling can’t replace the type of thorough polling conducted for candidates, typically to establish a baseline at the start of a campaign. It does provide a cheaper option for tracking trends and public opinion on breaking news.

PPP pollster Tom Jensen told Politico, “There are times when a campaign or political organization really just needs to know the score or test one or two issues that have unexpectedly cropped up in a campaign. I’m glad we’ve been able to provide that kind of shorter, faster, less expensive polling on the Democratic side,” he said. “Heck, we’ve had a lot of Republicans try to hire us over the years, so I know that the demand is there.”

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