Hanger Boasts $200K for Guv Bid

John Hanger announces

Hanger announced his bid in November

John Hanger, the former PA. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, announced that his campaign has raised $200,000 since he announced his bid in November.

“I am gratified by the strong financial support that we are attracting even at this early stage.” said Hanger in a release. “Our fundraising success and our strong poll numbers give my campaign a great start. We will make Tom Corbett a one-term governor.”

The year end report that Hanger filed today will show that he raised $53,740 by December 31, he said.

Financial standing will be a key factor in what appears to be an increasingly crowded field of potential Democratic candidates, including state Treasurer Rob McCord and former Congressman Joe Sestak.

PoliticsPA is seeking clarification from Hanger’s campaign as to whether the $200K is money that has actually come in the door and gone into the campaign account, or whether the figure reflects money that has been pledged to the campaign – an important distinction in fundraising.

Unless they contribute to statewide judicial candidates in 2013, gubernatorial hopefuls will not need to file any fundraising reports again until Jan. 31, 2014 – meaning there is no way to verify Hanger’s or others’ fundraising claims for the next 12 months.

No matter what the case, Hanger and most of the prospective 2014 candidates have some catching up to do with Corbett. The Governor reported having $2.05 million on hand at the end of 2011. His 2012 year end report is not yet online.

Dem PAC Names Fitzpatrick, Not Rothfus, 1 of 10 Targets in 2014

Fitzpatrick Head Shot 2012

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick

The 2014 cycle is just a few weeks old, but a significant Democratic super PAC has already named Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) to its list of targets.

The House Majority PAC, which works to complement the efforts of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chose Fitzpatrick as one of ten. He’s the only member from Pa.

“In 2012, House Majority PAC built a strong record of success and in 2013 we are ready to hit the ground running to hold these Republicans accountable and communicate with swing voters about their extreme records and backwards priorities,” said Alixandria Lapp, Executive Director of House Majority PAC.

The group is the unofficial super PAC of House Democratic candidates, and their targeting almost universally overlapped in 2012. That means they worked – without direct coordination – to boost the same candidates.

The PAC spent $36 million in 2012, including over a half a million to boost Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) in PA-12.

Fitzpatrick was elected in 2004, defeated in 2006, and elected again in 2010. The most highly-targeted Republican incumbent in Pa. in 2012, he easily fended off challenger Kathy Boockvar.

“No amount of hyperbole from Nancy Pelosi’s henchmen will distort Congressman Fitzpatrick’s independent record of fighting for his constituents,” said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Nat Sillin.

The Congressman defeated Boockvar, an attorney, convincingly: 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.

Even given his strong performance, his district in the swingy Philadelphia suburbs may be Dems’ best option for a Pa. pickup in 2014 – albeit a tough, uphill battle.

Interestingly, freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus is absent from the admittedly preliminary list of targets, despite that fact that his 3.4 point win was the narrowest in any Pa. congressional race in 2012.

(2 of the 10 names on the House Majority PAC list are Republican freshmen, so it’s not for lack of a voting record that he was omitted).

Though the 12th district had sent a Democrat to Congress for decades, Rothfus represents constituents who went for Mitt Romney, John McCain and George W. Bush – in each case by at least 9 points.

Conversely, Fitzpatrick’s 8th district went for Obama by 7.5 points in 2008, Kerry by 1 point in 2004, but flipped to Romney in 2012. The Republican narrowly carried the 8th district 49.4 percent to 49.3 for Obama, according to the website DailyKos.

Another factor counting against Democrats in PA-8: Fitzpatrick’s pledge. He pledged to serve at most through 2016, meaning 2014 will be his final congressional campaign. The major talent on the Democratic bench in the 8th knows they’d stand a better chance in 2016 when the seat is open and presidential year turnout is likely to boost their party.

Note: numbers above refer to vote totals for the current configuration of the congressional districts, post-redistricting.

Shuster Touches Down at Philly Airport

bill_shuster

Rep. Bill Shuster

Congressman Bill Shuster (R-Blair), the newly minted Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, on Wednesday traveled to Philadelphia International Airport to meet with Mayor Michael Nutter and Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) and tour the airport’s expanding facilities.

Rep. Shuster, who helped usher the GOP’s transportation spending bill through the House last spring, hailed PHL as a job generator and said he’s looking forward to working to ensure that future legislation serves to benefit the airport and Southeast Pennsylvania region.

The Blair County Republican, whose father Bud served as Transportation Chair from 1995 to 2001, said Rep. Meehan had doggedly insisted for weeks that the younger Shuster make the trip to Philadelphia to tour the airport and meet with local officials.

Emphasizing the airport’s role in maintaining Philadelphia’s global competitiveness, Nutter hailed recently approved $734 million in new investment at PHL as a “signal that we’re all dedicated to moving forward with projects crucial to the region.”  The mayor predicted that the influx of money and projects would fuel the Delaware Valley’s economy throughout the next decade by creating engineering, construction, manufacturing and supplier jobs.

Rep. Meehan struck largely the same tone, saying that planned expansions at the airport would bring tens of thousands of jobs and would represent the biggest economic development project in the Philadelphia region over the next five to ten years.

Neighboring local officials – including Delaware County Councilman John McBlain, Tinicum Township Manager David Schreiber and Commissioner Pat Barr – were also in attendance.

1/31 Morning Buzz

Harrisburg Capitol stepsDemocrats, gun control and same sex marriage do will in the latest Pa. poll. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz.

Corbett Pitches Liquor Privatization: Tom Corbett unveiled his plan Wednesday to privatize the state’s liquor stores, one of the most ambitious attempts by a Pa. Governor in decades.

Quinnipiac Poll: Pa. Voters Support Same-Sex Marriage By A Small Margin: In a recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, registered Pennsylvania voters were divided when asked if they support same-sex marriage.

Quinnipiac Poll: PA Voters Wary on Corbett’s Transportation Play: A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac shows some unrest for Governor Corbett’s transportation plan.

Quinnipiac Poll: Obama, Democrats on Positive Ground in Pa: President Obama’s approval rating is on positive ground in Pa. and Democratic party favorables are much better than their GOP counterparts.

Local Election Updates

Pittsburgh City Council: Dan Gilman isn’t messing around. The longtime aide to Councilman Bill Peduto is running for his boss’s seat, and has the cash to do it. He’ll show $85,000 on hand by the end of the month, he says. His district 8 opponent Sam Hens-Greco said he had a few thousand, and other opponent Jeanne Clark didn’t organize a committee until 2013 and so doesn’t have to report by the end of January.

Statewide
AP: Governor Corbett promises liquor proceeds to schools
AP: State Senate votes to keep Penn State’s NCAA fines in PA
AP: Poll: More PA Democrats happy with party than Republicans
AP: Poll shows strong PA support for new gun controls
AP: PA Senate OKs task force on mass shootings
Capitolwire: Corbett proposes using liquor privatization money to fund new education block grant
Capitolwire: Corbett education proposal may cause battle with unions on prevailing wage, furloughs
Capitolwire: L&I Secretary Hearthway hopes worst of unemployment call center problems over
Capitolwire: Scarnati has questions about governor’s proposed pension reforms
Capitolwire: Scarnati says House charter reform bill takes too much from charters, cyber-charters
StateImpactPA: Pa. Poll: Concern About Fracking Ranks Low on a Long List of Troubles
PA Independent: Pennsylvania grades high on national transparency report
State House Sound Bites: Issue of arming teachers not high on list among state officials
State House Sound Bites: Gov. Corbett says he’s taking lead on liquor store privatization
State House Sound Bites: Recovery officers optimistic about Harrisburg, York schools’ future

Philadelphia
AP: Aide to jailed Pa. Sen. says she worked for Melvin
Inquirer:  Corbett: $1 billion to schools from sale of state stores
Inquirer: Aide to Reynolds Brown and Nutter fired after ethics report
Daily News: Amid ethics charges, Nutter fires ex-Brown aide
Philly.com: Reynolds Brown must step down
Commonwealth Confidential: Poll: PA voters support assault weapons, high cap magazine ban, same-sex marriage
PhillyClout: As Nutter’s ‘final offer’ deadline arrives, admin & D.C. 33 will negotiate
PhillyClout: Wednesday’s DN: Mayor Nutter fires ex-Councilwoman campaign aide
WHYY Newsworks: Task force to study violence in schools OK’d by Pa. lawmakers

SEPA
Pottstown Mercury: West Vincent formalizes opposition to proposed gas pipeline
Phillyburbs.com: Corbett promises liquor proceeds to schools
Phillyburbs.com: Poll: two-thirds of GOP voters happy with party
Phillyburbs.com: PA. Senator skeptical of Corbett pension strategy
Delco Daily Times: Corbett looks to raise $1B for education by selling off state stores
Delco Daily Times: Top GOP lawmakers aren’t buzzed at liquor privatization plans

Pittsburgh
KDKA: New poll shows Corbett’s popularity shrinking
WTAE: Gov. Tom Corbett’s liquor privatization plan includes wine, beer, state stores
WTAE: Pa. Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin’s trial continues in Pittsburgh
WPXI: Corbett promises liquor proceeds to schools
City Paper: No Help Wanted: In filing to labor board, UPMC claims it has no employees
City Paper: Broken Down: Passed in 2010, a city tow-truck licensing ordinance faces a long haul
Early Returns: Q poll finds gun control support in Pa
Early Returns: Liquor plan in neutral
Early Returns: Ferlo blasts Corbett liquor plan
Early Returns: Corbett: Liquor proceeds to schools
Early Returns: Gilman’s healthy warchest
Post-Gazette: Corbett proposes selling liquor stores to raise education funds
Post-Gazette: Testimony: Pa. Senate worker spend half of 2003 working on Judge Orie Melvin’s Campaign
Post-Gazette: Corbett to add $8.5 million to Children’s Health Insurance Program
Post-Gazette: Poll shows Pa. voters want stricter gun-control measures
Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett’s poll numbers fall again
Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania Justice Melvin’s defense grills central witness
Post-Gazette: Corbett getting resistance from Pennsylvania GOP leadership
Tribune-Review: computer glitch halts state’s concealed weapons permit process
Tribune-Review: Corbett lays out plan for liquor privatization
Tribune-Review: Corbett: Shell tax breaks a way to expand manufacturing in state

Southwest
AP: Corbett promises liquor proceeds to Pa. schools
AP: Aide to jailed Pa. Sen. says she worked for Melvin
Beaver County Times: Game commision OKs drilling underneath game lands near school
Beaver County Times: Corbett: Budget proposes funds for state police cadets, training

NEPA
AP: State police suspend use of breathalyzers
Standard Speaker: NEPA reps differ on immigration proposals
Standard Speaker: Health sec. offers assistance to rural clinics
Citizens Voice: Court overturns $7.4M award to two NEPA school districts
Citizens Voice: Luzerne Co. eyes lower tax collector rates
Times-Tribune: Scranton mayor wants to raise successor’s salary
Times-Tribune: D.A. elaborates on officers’ mistakes in shooting

Lehigh Valley
Pennsylvania Ave: QPoll: Pennsylvanians support stricter gun control
Pennsylvania Ave: Jury decides in multimillion-dollar dispute between Pektor and PPL
Morning Call: Corbett offers liquor store privatization plan
Morning Call: Easton attorney will run for Northampton County judge seat
Reading Eagle: Pa. senator skeptical of Corbett pension strategy
Reading Eagle: Reading restaurant owner in U.S. illegally encouraged by immigration reform talk
Reading Eagle: Firearms permit system down for much of day
Reading Eagle: Corbett promises liquor proceeds to schools
WFMZ: Judge: No new trial for Jerry Sandusky
WFMZ: Dean Browning announces candidacy for Lehigh County Executive
Express Times: Pennsylvanians support assault weapons ban, universal background checks, poll finds

South Central
Roxbury News: Legislative leaders detail goals
York Dispatch: County commits $75K for Camp Security effort
Patriot-News: Union remains opposed to unionization efforts
Patriot-News: Lebanon Co. voter chief to become Annville Twp. administrator
Patriot-News: Success of Corbett’s privatization push depends on fault lines in party lines
Patriot-News: L. Dauphin S.D. taxes won’t go up more than 2%

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News Campaign ‘13 Blog: Erie lawyer Walsh kicks off campaign for judge
Centre Daily Times: State Sen. Jake Corman’s bill to keep Penn State’s NCAA fine in Pa. unanimously passes Senate
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Project money in limbo
Williamsport Sun Gazette: $5M Williamsport Home construction bond to be reviewed by commissioners

Opinions
Tribune-Review: The business of drink: Not a state function
Post-Gazette: Fiscal lesson: The state university system has more to learn
Post-Gazette: Youth and guns: Weapons sellers vie for a younger clientele
Post-Gazette: Closing time: The LCB’s CEO should leave at his retirement
Altoona Mirror: ‘Leave no stone unturned’
Altoona Mirror: New debt deadline needed
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Women earn shot at combat

Blogs
Keystone Politics: Alcohol Reform and Wages
Keystone Politics: Pennsylvania’s Tax Code is Hideously Regressive
Keystone Politics: Actually Harrisburg Could Use More “Washington-Style Politics”
Keystone Politics: PA Gun Owners Support Background Checks 95-4
Keystone Politics: Pat Toomey to Hurricane Sandy Victims: Drop Dead
Keystone Politics: PA GOP Hosting “Confederate History Month” Governor for Lincoln Day Dinner
Keystone Politics: A Great Morning for Bruce Castor
Keystone Politics: Where Bob Donchez Comes Up Short as a Political Leader
Jon Geeting: Let’s Play Name a Bob Donchez Initiative
Keystone Liberty: House GOP Proposes Pro-Growth and Zero Cost Right-to-Work Legislation
Lehigh Valley Ramblings: Browning to Take on Ott: BiPartisanship Not a Dirty Word

Corbett Pitches Liquor Privatization

Corbett liquor

Corbett and lawmakers in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh — Tom Corbett unveiled his plan Wednesday to privatize the state’s liquor stores, one of the most ambitious attempts by a Pa. Governor in decades.

“I am proposing that Pennsylvania join the ranks of 48 other states and once and for all get out of the business of selling wine and spirits,” he said. “I do not simply want to reduce it or to trim it a little here and a little there… we should not do it halfway.”

Flanked by Pa. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai – a longtime proponent of privatization – and a dozen other Republican state Reps., Corbett laid out the details.

Some of the main points:

  • As the Guv said, it’s not a halfway plan. It’s a full privatization effort – dissolving the 600 state stores and auctioning off 1,200 licenses for the sale of liquor and wine.
  • Other licenses, for beer and wine, won’t have a set number but will be granted based on whether the seller (including box stores, groceries, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, etc) met certain criteria.
  • Current beer distributors can keep their current license, apply to sell wine, or participate in auctions for liquor licenses.
  • Businesses that hire current Pa. liquor store employees would be eligible for a tax credit.
  • The new, private stores and wholesalers would continue to use the current tax system.
  • The entire program would phase in over 4 years.

Corbett appeared to be making a play mostly for Republican support – or at least to give his party political cover. The proposal almost certainly will define the rightmost option in the forthcoming debate.

He has his work cut out for him. Turzai notwithstanding, several legislative leaders in his party – including House Speaker Sam Smith and Senate Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati – have expressed reluctance about privatization in recent days.

Both Smith and Scarnati suggested the current system is working and said they’d support more restrained reforms – ones that better guaranteed rural places like their home County of Jefferson maintains retailers.

Corbett’s key olive branch to Democrats (and potentially vulnerable Republicans): $1 billion in new funding for K-12 education. The grants would be funded by revenue from the license sales and taxes, and directed to a limited range of functions (most notably not regular budgetary needs, such as salaries).

But he can expect stiff resistance. Democratic lawmakers and allied groups lambasted the plan immediately – including Corbett’s estimates of increased revenue.

Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) is the ranking Democrat on the Pa. Senate Law & Justice Committee where any legislation will originate.

“We do not need to tear down a system that works, provides good paying, middle-class jobs, and generates essential revenue for the State as the Governor is proposing. We need to improve that system to the benefit of consumers while continuing to take advantage of the important resources and public health protections the system provides today,” he said.

Ferlo praised Scarnati, who earlier this week similarly called for tweaks to the current system.

Corbett said it wasn’t time for half-measures.

“We’ve been nipping and tucking away at this. This is time to go and do it,” he said.

Numerous polls have shown solid public support for privatization, including a survey commissioned by the Philadelphia Inquirer in October (55% supported, 28% opposed).

Quinnipiac Poll: Pa. Voters Support Same-Sex Marriage By A Small Margin

Quinnipiac-pollIn a recent poll released January 30th by Quinnipiac University regarding support for same-sex marriage among Pennsylvania voters, the results were closely divided but in favor 47% to 43%.

The poll surveyed a total of 1,221 registered Pennsylvania voters over a 5 day period by making calls to landlines and cellphones.  The surveyed produced results for Pennsylvania voters overall as well as demographic groups such as particular age groups or religions.

Women in Pennsylvania support same-sex marriage by a margin of ten (50% to 40%) while men are slightly opposed (46% to 44%).

The survey outcomes were generally split along party lines; Democrats showed strong support (65% to 27%), Independents demonstrated moderate support (51% to 38%), and Republicans opposed same-sex marriage (67% to 23%).

Quinnipiac also surveyed white Catholics and white Protestants who support and oppose same-sex marriage respectively (50% to 40%, 60% to 31%).

In keeping with national trends, the poll found that support for same-sex marriage was strongest among the age group 18 to 34 (68% to 25%), close among those 35 to 54 (48% to 41%), and weak among those aged 55 and over, who oppose it (52% to 39%).

Voters surveyed were also asked an open-ended question about what they feel is the most important question facing the state.  The economy was listed as the primary concern by 37% of those surveyed.  Education and taxes followed claiming 10% and 8% respectively, and the state budget and politicians claimed 7% each.

The Quinnipiac University Poll conducts public opinion surveys in various states as well as nationwide and is directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D.

Quinnipiac Poll: PA Voters Wary on Corbett’s Transportation Play


In the latest poll conducted by Quinnipiac, Pa. voters are uneasy over Gov. Tom Corbett’s new transportation tax plan.

The plan, which would remove the cap on the oil franchise tax and could generate up to $2 billion in needed revenue for transit, is largely divided amongst Pa. voters, with 45 percent supporting the measure and 47 percent opposing it. Tom-Corbett-upset-201x300

However, voters are concerned that eliminating the cap could place a tax burden on them, with 82 percent showing concern as opposed to only 18 percent who are not concerned.

Corbett’s plan is aimed at obtaining the necessary $2.5 billion for fixing damaged roads, bridges, as well as public transportation. While removing a tax cap doesn’t necessarily mean a raise in taxes, it’s clear that voters are concerned that additional taxes are on the way.

The poll was conducted from January 22-27, and surveyed 1,221 registered voters. There was  a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

Quinnipiac Poll: Obama, Democrats on Positive Ground in Pa

Pa. voters give positive marks to President Barack Obama on the second week of his second term, according to the latest survey from Quinnipiac.

51% said they approve the job he’s doing while 46% disapprove – about the same as it was 2 weeks after his re-election in Q-pac’s November survey.

Democrats and Republicans fall mostly on partisan lines, with about 90 percent approving Obama and vice versa for the GOP. But he’s got problems in the center: independent voters disapprove 52% to 42%.
121204_barack_obama_ap_605
The President also has a wide gender gap among men. While women approve his job performance 57% to 40%, men disapprove 53% to 44% – a total gap of 26 points.

The Democratic label itself is in positive territory in Pa., albeit barely. 43% said they had a favorable impression of the Democratic party and 42% said unfavorable. Independents were unfavorable 47% to 33%.

Respondents said they had a negative impression of the Republican party by a starker margin: 55% to 29%. They did worse with independents, who went negative 57% to 24%. And interestingly, the Republican party did much worse with Republican voters than the Democrats did.

21% of Republicans have an unfavorable impression of their own party, compared to just 7% of Democrats who felt unfavorably about theirs.

These numbers are from the second release by Quinnipiac from the same poll, conducted from Jan. 22 to 27 using live interviewers calling landlines. The margin of error for the survey of 1,221 registered voters is plus or minus 2.8%. Pa. polls that use registration numbers rather than algorithms based on likely voters tend to favor Democrats by a few points and disadvantage Republicans compared to election results.

1/30 Morning Buzz

TC shot glassCorbett will roll out his plan to privatize the state’s wine & spirits stores today. And more numbers from Quinnipiac will entice political junkies. Good morning politicos, here’s the Buzz.

Quinnipiac Poll: Pa. Voters Support Universal Background Checks 19 to 1: Pa. voters support universal background checks almost universally. The latest survey from Quinnipiac shows that there’s also healthy support for an assault weapons ban.

Quinnipiac Poll: Gender Gap Sinks Corbett Numbers: By a 30 point margin, Pa. women say Gov. Tom Corbett does not deserve a second term. His job approval numbers aren’t much better.

Wolf Says Guv Bid Likely: Businessman and former Pa. Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf says he’s likely to jump into the Democratic primary for Governor.

Barletta Slams Immigration Package: Pennsylvania’s fiercest critic of amnesty blasts a bipartisan package to reform immigration.

Statewide
AP: PA denies three new midstate cyber charter schools
AP: Court to weigh secrecy of PA turnpike lawyers
AP: PA labor chief says police are probing hotline problems
AP: Leading PA Senator skeptical of Governor Corbett’s pension strategy
AP: Two state agencies in dispute over health of the Susquehanna
State House Sound Bites: Poll: Corbett’s grim numbers get no bump from NCAA lawsuit
StateImpactPA: Post-Gazette: DEP Pulls Wastewater Permit
Capitolwire: Scarnati has questions about governor’s proposed pension reforms
Capitolwire: At mid-term, 51-31 against Corbett re-election, new Quinnipiac poll shows
Capitolwire: Pension reform, public education funding to be linked in Corbett budget

Philadelphia
AP: Pa. senator skeptical of Corbett pension strategy
Inquirer: Pa. voters disapprove of Gov. Corbett
Inquirer: High-powered testimony in ex-PHA chief’s lawsuit
Inquirer: Blondell’s ex-campaign chief loses city job
Daily News: Corbett: Good Bet/Bad Bet
PhillyClout: South Philly state Rep’s business partner indicted on tax charges
PhillyClout: Tuesday’s DN: Councilwoman Reynolds Brown admits to Ethics violations
PhillyClout: Councilwoman refuses to answer questions about campaign finance violations
PhillyClout: Political watchdog urges law enforcement to examine Councilwoman’s campaign finance violations
WHYY Newsworks: Gov. Corbett’s poll numbers are in a slump
Phillynow.com: Pa. Lawmakers Fight to Reform Statute of Limitations on Sexual Abuse

SEPA
Phillyburbs.com: Corbett administration blames drop in federal funding and old tech for unemployment busy signals
Phillyburbs.com: Corbett plan said to include wine, liquor and beer
Phillyburbs.com: State education secretary says Corbett’s budget has good news for schools
Phillyburbs.com: Pennde faces financial squeeze; seeks loan
Delco Daily Times: PA budget chief says pension reforms essential
Montgomery Media: Local legislators speak at League of Women Voters group

Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review: Corbett budgeting to train hundreds of new state troopers
Tribune-Review: Poll finds Corbett’s approval rate plummeting
Tribune-Review: Philadelphia group gets more time for Lawrence County casino plan
Tribune-Review: Top Senate Republican objects to linking funding in state budget
Tribune-Review: Pa. labor chief: Police probing jobless benefits hotline problems
Tribune-Review: Former revenue secretary Wolf ‘likely’ to challenge Corbett
Post-Gazette: Poll: Likely Pennsylvania voters disapprove of Corbett’s performance
Post-Gazette: Corbett’s budget to affect state employee pensions
Post-Gazette: Orie aide tells jury of work done for judicial sister
Post-Gazette: DEP pulls permit, to allow comment
Post-Gazette: Pennsylvania withholds OKs for 8 cyber charter schools
Post-Gazette: Attorney for suspended Justice Orie Melvin highlights witness’ inconsistencies
Post-Gazette: Scarnati urges quick approval of transportation plan
Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approves Ravenstahl’s property tax plan
Early Returns: Q poll: No strong Corbett support anywhere
Early Returns: Toomey no on Sandy relief; Casey yes
Early Returns: Corbett to unveil LCB plan
KDKA: DEP investigating Fly Ash Hauling
KDKA: Allegheny Co. homeowners have sticker shock over new property taxes
KDKA: Locals react to proposed immigration reform

Southwest
AP: Pa. Senate OKs task force on mass shootings
AP: PSU on pace in implementing Freeh recommendations
AP: Corbett plan said to include wine, liquor, and beer
AP: Pa. state agencies arguing over Susquehanna river
AP: Melvin defense targets authenticity of documents
AP: Rendell supports ex-Philly housing czar at trial
AP: Pennsylvania budget chief says pension reforms essential
AP: State labor chief: Police probing hotline problems
Beaver County Times: Rothfus unveils committee assignments

NEPA
Times-Leader: PA reactivating solar program
Times-Tribune: Changes due for future public pensioners
Citizens Voice: Scarnati “skeptical” of Corbett’s pension strategy
Pocono Record: Foreclosure counseling available in Monroe Co.
Pocono Record: All three Pocono Twp. supervisors approved as full-time employees
Pocono Record: Penn State on pace in implementing Freeh recommendations

Lehigh Valley
Pennsylvania Ave: Toomey votes no on Sandy relief
Pennsylvania Ave: Lehigh Valley native, Capitol Hill staffer wins $100K on Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Pennsylvania Ave: Pa. judges to challenge mandatory retirement in state and federal courts
Pennsylvania Ave: Jammed up unemployment compensation hotline to improve, state official says
Morning Call: Brennan gets work release, trying to save government job
Morning Call: Joe Conti leaving the LCB, but not for long
Reading Eagle: Pa. budget chief says pension reforms essential
Reading Eagle: PennDOT efficiency drive could free up funds for roadwork
WFMZ: Local immigration lawyers praise President’s plan
WFMZ: Proposed immigration reform stirs local debate
Express Times: Upper Nazareth Township officials’ approval of retirement community reversed by judge
Express Times: Tony Bassil running for late Gay Elwell’s judge seat
Express Times: Freemansburg Avenue in Wilson Borough reopened following water line break, utility says – UPDATE

South Central
Carlisle Sentinel: Cumberland D.A. wants charged Carlisle tax collector removed
Carlisle Sentinel: First Lady Corbett visits Carlisle school
Patriot News: Scarnati to employ legislative move to stop online gaming in PA
Patriot News: Harrisburg Recover Officer: schools saddled with debt, student exodus to charters
Patriot News: State agencies sparring over Susquehanna River designation—again!
Patriot News: Steel State: map shows most of PA Steelers fans.
Conestoga Valley News: Guns now allowed in E. Lampeter parks
Lancaster Intelligencer/Era: State Ed. Sec. hints at more money for public schools in Governor’s budget
Roxbury News: Forensic audit for Harrisburg schools
Roxbury News: 46% of Harrisburg’s funding comes from state
Roxbury News: Mayor vs. City Controller feud gets its day in court

North by Northwest
Erie Times-News Campaign ‘13 Blog: Bizzarro to present award to Miss Pa.
Erie Times-News Campaign ‘13 Blog: Two more Erie lawyers announce candidacies in judge’s race
Centre Daily Times: 2 Pa. congressmen ask NCAA to end Penn State scholarship reductions
Centre Daily Times: State College school board OKs new teacher contract
Centre Daily Times: Penn State conducting controlled burns in Arboretum
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Legislator sour on labor law plan’s chances, defends effort to lure refinery
Williamsport Sun Gazette: Contractor sues River Valley Transit

Opinions
Post-Gazette: No reform: The Senate botches a chance to fix the filibuster
Post-Gazette: The U.S. in Mali: Creeping involvement must be debated in Congress
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat: Readers’ Forum 1-29 | It’s essential to retake our culture

Blogs
Watchdog Wire: Penn State scandal, and broken promises could lead to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett’s 2013 defeat
Jon Geeting: Two Questions for the Bethlehem Mayor Candidates
Jon Geeting: Northampton County Democrats Primary Open Thread
Jon Geeting: Dean Browning Will Challenge Scott Ott in the Republican Primary
John Hanger: Key Fact: Gas Royalty Checks Total $1.2 Billion in PA
John Hanger: An Economic Tale Of Two Shale Booms: Pennsylvania is Not North Dakota

Quinnipiac Poll: Pa. Voters Support Universal Background Checks 19 to 1

NRA logo

Respondents view the NRA unfavorably 35%-31%

If Pa. voters had their say today, three of President Obama’s top gun control priorities would become law.

According to the latest poll from Quinnipiac, Pa. has near-unanimous public support for universal background checks (95% to 5%) and healthy support for a ban on assault weapons (60% to 37%) and high capacity magazine clips (59% to 39%).

Respondents who identified as gun owners also supported universal background checks (95% to 4%) but opposed an assault weapons ban (51% to 45%) and magazine restrictions (57% to 41%).

All three are measures supported by Obama, who intensified his focus on gun violence in the wake of the December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

As the number show however, universal background checks stand the strongest chance of success. A lengthy report this month by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Moriah Balingit detailed one example why: John Shick, the man who shot several people at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland in March 2012, had navigated haphazard background check laws to obtain his guns.

57% of respondents said Pa. gun control laws should be stricter, 35% said they should remain as-is, and 4% said they should be less strict. 60% favored stricted federal gun control laws (and 32% the same, 5% less strict).

Asked, “Who do you trust more to make the right decisions about gun laws, the Republicans in Congress or President Obama?” respondents chose Obama 47% to 38%.

“Pennsylvanians join voters in Virginia and New Jersey, states where Quinnipiac University has found overwhelming support for background checks for every gun purchase,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Keystone State voters, especially voters in urban areas, seem to have had enough of gun violence. By large margins, voters don’t think assault weapons belong in the hands of any gun owner. Restrict the firepower of assault weapons or ban them entirely, Pennsylvanians say.”

The survey found 49 % of respondents believe gun ownership protects people from becoming victims of crime compared to 40% who said ownership puts people at risk. But that stops with semi-automatic assault rifles like that used in Newtown. 61% of respondents said those make the country more dangerous. Just 28% said they make the country safer.

The idea of having armed guards at schools would do more to reduce gun violence in schools than stricter 46% to 42%.

By a margin of 35% to 31%, respondents said they had an unfavorable impression of the National Rifle Association.

These numbers are the second release by Quinnipiac from the same survey, conducted from Jan. 22 to 27 using live interviewers calling landlines. The margin of error for the poll of 1,221 registered voters is plus or minus 2.8%. Pa. polls that use registration numbers rather than algorithms based on likely voters tend to favor Democrats by a few points and disadvantage Republicans compared to election results.

Yesterday’s release showed Gov. Tom Corbett’s re-election numbers in trouble driven by a wide gender gap.

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