March 1st Ups & Downs
The minimum wage debate takes center stage, the Auditor General released a report about officials accepting gifts from voting machine vendors and two public officials have backtracked from previous offensive statements. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Minimum Wage. The minimum wage has been $7.25 in Pennsylvania for the past decade, but that could change going into 2020. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) said he opposes Gov. Tom Wolf’s call for a $15 an hour minimum wage, but said “the minimum wage discussion needs to happen.” Corman said he’d be open to conversing about a “reasonable” increase. Wolf’s office told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star that the Governor feels that his plan would be most fair to workers, although he’d “welcome a discussion with the legislature about it.”
Eugene DePasquale. The Auditor General released a report that stated officials in 18 counties accepted various gifts from different voting equipment vendors who are looking to sell new voting machines before the 2020 election. Some of the examples of other gifts reported from the 18 counties included an expense-paid travel to Las Vegas, tickets to a wine festival and distillery tour, and amusement park. Despite the size of the gift, DePasquale cited Gov. Tom Wolf’s complete ban of gifts for employees of his administration.
Bob Casey’s Progressive Bona Fides. Sen. Casey has not been exactly identified with the liberal wing of the party often, but in recent years he’s opened up to more progressive causes, such as gun control. This past week, he took a vote that would anger those on the left, while co-sponsoring legislation that would be welcomed in that wing of the party. Casey was one of three Senate Democrats to vote with Republicans on a bill to provide additional medical protections if an infant survives an attempted abortion. Casey continues to identify as one of the only “pro-life Democrats” in Congress. While Casey has supported a raise in the minimum wage, this week he added his name to a list of 30 fellow Democratic Senators calling for a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. This piece of legislation was written by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Brian Fitzpatrick’s Moderate Status. If you voted for Dean Malik in the GOP primary because you had reservations about Fitzpatrick’s commitment to the Trump agenda, this week should not come as a surprise. Fitzpatrick was the sole GOP Congressman in Pennsylvania and one of the only Republicans in the House to vote for a resolution aimed at undoing the emergency declaration that President Trump ordered to move federal money to his border wall proposal. The Bucks County Congressman also stood out from the rest of his Republican colleagues in Pennsylvania when he sided with Democrats again on legislation to require universal background checks for gun sales. Fitzpatrick was just one of eight Republican Congressional Representatives to support this effort. Fitzpatrick has crossed the aisle on various different issues, but this particular week seemed to anger the most passionate Trump supporters the most in his district after a bevy of phone calls were made to Talk Radio 1210 WPHT in Philadelphia about his votes siding with his Democratic colleagues.
Bill Courtright. The bad news? The Scranton Mayor still has an FBI investigation looming. The good news? According to the Citizens Voice, Courtright’s campaign raised more money last year than in any previous non-election year. His mayoral campaign committee took in $114,048 last year, best his previous best non-election year high in 2014 by more than $1,700.
Frank Scavo. The Republican nominee for the special election in the 114th House District had some backtracking and explaining to do this week when a multitude of old anti-Muslim social media posts resurfaced online. The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported on Monday how Scavo shared a debunked and unsubstantiated conspiracy theory linking the Clintons to child abuse and a murder. The Citizens Voice reports that Scavo has now apologized and deleted a number of social media posts that he now calls “stupid,” “all in poor taste without a doubt” and “too general.” Old social media posts, (which he has since deleted) showed that he often stated that President Barack Obama was muslim, and “praised China’s restrictions on Muslim prayer as “positive government protection” and suggested running over Muslim protesters laying in a street would be “the smart thing to do.” Scavo claimed the Qaran allowed “the practice of lies and treachery against the infidel” and lauded then candidate Donald Trump’s call for a temporary ban on muslim immigration and reposted a link titled, “Why every Muslim in a terrorist.” Scavo told the Citizens Voice yesterday that “These are all posts that I regret. That’s not part of my philosophy, that’s not what I subscribe to … It’s too general. It was a general description of that faith and there are good people inside that faith… Every religion has its problems, but the majority of people inside those religions are peace-loving.”
Allentown Morning Call. On Monday, journalists at the Allentown Morning Call stated their intentions to form a union. This is following an ongoing trend in newsrooms around the country in hopes of having more say in their workplace.
Phillips Armstrong. During the State of the Lehigh County Address, an “off-color” comment from one of the Lehigh County Executives drew pushback from a number of his colleagues. Armstrong “told a joke involving a man buying a Cadillac convertible with an attractive woman thrown in as part of the deal,” according to the Morning Call. He was scolded by Board of Commissioners Chairman Marty Nothstein and Vice Chair Nathan Brown for these comments and was called to apologize. On Monday, he didn’t apologize for the joke, but on Wednesday he issued a statement apologizing for the “joke” the Morning Call reports.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Philly City Council bout to introduce a resolution to make Bryce Harper eligible for DROP when his contract is up
— Max M. Marin (@MaxMMarin) February 28, 2019
Also…..can someone explain this tweet??
Teamed up with House colleagues and @JimFKenney and @DwightEvansPA @CongBoyle to support friend and solutions-focused public servant @CherelleParker9! Working together to get things done pic.twitter.com/UL1CVtoX4M
— Mike Turzai (@MikeTurzai) February 24, 2019