2/2 PoliticsPA Playbook

PA-state-flag6-14English tests Superior Court waters, Farnese found not guilty, and Casey gets pressured on Cabinet appointees.  Good morning politicos, here’s the Playbook!

English Tests the Waters, But Opts Against Superior Court Bid: State Rep. Hal English made a surprise late entry at the Southwest and Northwest GOP caucus straw polls, but decided not to run.

Senator Farnese Acquitted by Federal Jury: Larry Farnese has been acquitted of federal conspiracy and fraud charges.

Former Rep. Fitzpatrick Joins Philly Law Firm: Former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick has joined Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel as a Partner in the Litigation Department.

Pro-Trump Super PAC Pressures Casey on HHS Nominee: The 45Committee spent $65K on ads directing calls to the Senator’s office to support Tom Price.

Statewide
Capitolwire: Senate Democrats request special session on property tax relief.
StateImpactPA: Pennsylvania lacks resources to enforce safe water standards, says EPA
State House Sound Bites: As constituent calls flood offices, Toomey re-confirms DeVos support

Philadelphia
Inquirer: Facing a budget crunch, Wolf pays consultants — to help find savings
Inquirer: PA Senate approves child-sex abuse bill to extend into criminal, civil statutes, and, statutes of limitations
Inquirer: Council members regularly missing mandated ethics training
Inquirer: PA officials  claim that cash-strapped school districts are barely afloat
WHYY Newsworks: Philadelphia  jury claims Senator Larry Farnese is not guilty of fraud charges
SEPA
Pottstown Mercury: Clifford Rogers Perkiomen Valley Superintendent will retire in June 2017
Bucks County Courier Times: Physician coalition led by Bucks County pediatrician meeting with lawmakers about how to ‘heal’ health care
Bucks County Courier Times: Former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley and others press for more prekindergarten programs
Delco Daily Times: Smaller classes proposed to be implemented in Upper Darby schools

Pittsburgh
Tribune Review: Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Spirit Airlines rank low in on-time departures
Tribune Review: Allegheny Health Network reports bigger than expected $39M loss
Tribune Review: U.S. Steel CEO ‘optimistic’ about future under Trump

Southwest
Beaver County Times: New PA EPA bill will prohibit DEP from using strong methane standards
Beaver County Times: State legislators assigned to new areas for new session

NEPA
Standard-Speaker: Health care, distribution even region’s jobless rate
Standard-Speaker: Barletta legislation approved by House
Times-Tribune: Local health care foundation awards $720,000 in grants
Times-Leader: Law professors: Gorsuch eminently qualified and should be confirmed

South Central
Patriot News: Campaign finance reports show lopsided race for Harrisburg mayor
Patriot News: Trial date set for former Penn State administrators charged in Sandusky scandal
Patriot News: Dauphin County district judge seeking fifth term
Patriot News: District attorney seeks re-election to fourth term
Patriot News: Gov. Tom Wolf enters re-election fight with $1.7M in his coffers
Lancaster Online: Lancaster County District Attorney Stedman ‘highly recommended’ for state Superior Court seat

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Mayor Ed Pawlowski has paid $175,000+ for legal defense
Morning Call: Money race sets up 2017 Allentown mayor’s race
Morning Call: State Senate passes child sex abuse bill that lifts some time limits for lawsuits

North by Northwest
Altoona Mirror: Protests swamp Toomey’s offices
Erie Times-News: Immigration vigil set for Friday
Erie Times-News: Erie City Council supports new distribution formula for gambling revenues

Opinion
Delco Times: Editorial: Looking at both sides of pipeline issue
Patriot News: ‘Paycheck Protection?’ Who, exactly, are we protecting here?: Editorial
Standard-Speaker: Retraining on our policing efforts
Lancaster Online: There’s no reason to rush a decision on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline
Inquirer: Supreme Court pick Gorsuch is an intellectual giant
Reading Eagle: Editorial: State system colleges crucial to Pennsylvania

Blogs
Billy Penn: Mayor’s Office re-forms millennial advisory group: ‘This is not just show’
Billy Penn: Comcast employees plan Thursday protest of Trump immigration order in Philly, other cities

February 2nd, 2017 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Playbook | 1 Comment

One thought on “2/2 PoliticsPA Playbook”

  1. Mark O'Keefe says:

    Hello

    I’m a big fan of PaPolitics. I read it faithfully every day as I’ve been a close observer of the Pennsylvania Legislature for over 30 years. Here’s an editorial I wrote for the Herald-Standard in Uniontown. I thought you might be interested in running it on your site.

    Thanks

    Take care

    Mark O’Keefe

    Editorial Page Editor

    Herald-Standard

    Republicans were doing a lot of talking last November after swamping Democrats in the fall elections for the state Legislature. The Republicans gained control of both the state House of Representatives and Senate in numbers not seen in ages.

    The Republicans maintained that the voters had given them a mandate, and they were going to change things in Harrisburg.

    But one thing that hasn’t changed is the calendar used by the state Legislature. It’s the same one that’s been used for generations, no matter whether Republican or Democratic lawmakers have been in charge.

    And it’s one of the primary reasons why legislation seems to get bogged down every year with little progress made, if any, on major issues such as pension reform, gambling revenues and the elimination of property taxes.

    The problem with the calendar is that both the state Senate and state House of Representatives aren’t in session enough to make the kinds of changes Republicans talked about making. While lawmakers are in Harrisburg for a variety of hearings and meetings, session days are the only days where lawmakers can actually vote. Thus, they are extremely important days on the calendar for state lawmakers. But the problem is there just aren’t enough of them to make a real difference in how the Legislature operates.

    Consider that after being sworn into office on Jan. 3, lawmakers recessed until Jan. 23. The House was in session for three days after that, with the Senate sticking around for six days, including three this week.

    Both chambers will return to Harrisburg on Monday for a three-day session. But it will be dominated by Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget presentation on Tuesday, making it extremely unlikely that action will be taken by the Legislature on any of those days.

    Both chambers will then recess until Monday, March 17, meaning the Legislature will only be in session for 10 days in the first 10 weeks of 2017 and the last six weeks of 2016. They will have a total of 18 session days in March, April and May before holding 15 session days in June.

    The fall schedule hasn’t been set yet, but if last year’s calendar is any guide, the lawmakers will be on recess from early July until the middle of September and then come back for a handful of session days in October and November before calling it quits for the year.

    Overall, the state Senate and House are scheduled to be in session for 43 and 42 days, respectively, in the first six months of the year. That’s simply not enough session days to deal with all the problems facing Pennsylvania.

    There are always comments from lawmakers, especially near the end of the fiscal year, that they didn’t have enough time to get everything done. The problem, though, isn’t time. There’s plenty of time now to get things done. Lawmakers just have to get serious and knuckle down to the business at hand.

    Of course, this isn’t to say that lawmakers aren’t busy. We agree that the vast majority of legislators work hard, attending a variety of hearings in Harrisburg and elsewhere in the state. They also participate in countless community events back home and meet often with their constituents. But they’re amply compensated for their efforts with a salary of $85,339. In the end, they must find a way to hold more sessions to actually get something done in Harrisburg.

    The first step in dealing with a problem is to admit that there is one. Lawmakers, including our local contingent, should admit that the calendar is a problem and work to change it as soon as possible.

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