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December 16th Playbook

A fourth Democrat has entered the race for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Here is the Playbook.  

 

News 

‘Former Brentwood councilwoman Stephanie Fox to run for retiring Mike Doyle’s congressional seat’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “a former member of Brentwood Borough Council who says she’ll be a “forceful advocate for women” is joining the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle. Stephanie Fox, an executive with the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Center for Victims who lives in Brentwood, announced her bid as a Democrat for the 18th Congressional District on Wednesday, saying Americans have a “moral obligation to confront the pervasive cultural ills of sexual misconduct that continue to plague our nation.”

‘House GOP advances amended Pennsylvania congressional map before public can analyze it’: Spotlight PA reports that “a key House panel Wednesday approved an amended version of its proposed new map for Pennsylvania’s congressional districts prior to releasing data allowing the public to analyze it, drawing criticism from Democrats and at least one Republican.”

‘Privacy and Trump dominate arguments in GOP’s election case’: The Associated Press reports that “the separation of powers, the privacy of voters and what former President Donald Trump wants dominated arguments in a Pennsylvania court Wednesday as Democrats seek to block a subpoena to state election officials in what Republicans call a “forensic investigation” of last year’s presidential election.”

‘Lawmakers lack votes to halt Wolf’s carbon-pricing plan’: The Associated Press reports that “the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to block the centerpiece of Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to fight climate change, a cap-and-trade program to clamp down on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, although the chamber for now lacks the votes to stop it.”

‘Pennsylvania Senate moves to overhaul probation system’: The Associated Press reports that “Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to overhaul how probation is handled, in an effort to clamp down on people being stuck on an endless probation cycle or being sent back to jail for minor violations.”

‘Gina Curry sworn in as new state rep from 164th Legislative District’: The Delaware County Daily Times reports that “state Rep. Gina H. Curry, D-164 of Upper Darby, received a standing ovation Monday as she was sworn into office following a special election in November.”

‘Curriculum transparency bill heads to Wolf’s desk, who opposes it’: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “amid a national debate about school history curricula, a bill mandating schools post their course materials online is heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk after it passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly this week.”

‘General Assembly sends Wolf bill creating new Pa. broadband authority’: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “broadband companies will have access to tens of millions of dollars in federal aid to build new or expand old internet infrastructure under  a bill the Pennsylvania General Assembly unanimously approved this week.”

‘Pa. sends second vague email to patients about medical marijuana vape product safety’: The Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that “for the second time in less than a month, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Medical Marijuana Office sent an email to patients informing them of a review of vaporized medical marijuana products. As with the first notice sent on Dec. 1, there’s no information about why the state ordered the review, what safety concerns it may have, or even a way for patients to contact the state with questions.”

‘Looser rules for take-out sales of canned cocktails in Pennsylvania narrowly passes state Senate’: PennLive reports that “in a narrow 26-24 vote, the Pennsylvania Senate revived a proposal pushed by Sen. Mike Regan, R-York / Cumberland counties, that would loosen the state’s current alcohol sales laws by adding pre-packaged cocktails to the list of alcoholic beverages that can be sold outside state-run liquor stores.”

‘Rep. Scott Perry alleged that Rep. Ilhan Omar, who is Muslim, is affiliated with terrorist groups during House debate on her bill to combat Islamophobia’: Business Insider reports that “during a debate on a bill to internationally combat Islamaphobia, the House parliamentarian found that Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., made inappropriate remarks that were “not in order” with the House Rules and Manual when he alleged that Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and the bill’s author, is antisemitic and affiliated with a terrorist organization.”

‘Could a new PSERS era be dawning? School pension trustees weigh new bets as FBI and SEC probes simmer’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “the divided trustees of Pennsylvania’s $73 billion school pension fund will start plotting a future without the agency’s longtime leaders at a two-day board meeting that starts Thursday.”

‘Four Republican Party candidates campaign in Cambria County’: The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports that “four Republican Party candidates who are running or thinking about running in statewide races shared their ideas and looked to gain support from Cambria County Republican Party members on Tuesday during a reception at The Fifth Local Eatery & Alehouse in Richland Township.”

‘Dr. Oz takes Senate campaign to the Lehigh Valley, and gives a shoutout to a popular area diner’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor turned U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, dropped in for a visit in the Lehigh Valley on Wednesday morning and gave his endorsement to a popular area diner.”

‘Pennsylvania asks FEMA for help with COVID surge’: The Associated Press reports that “Pennsylvania asked the federal government on Wednesday to send health care workers to hospitals and nursing homes that are increasingly under stress from persistent staffing shortages and the latest COVID-19 surge.”

‘Supply-chain problems delaying completion of some PennDOT projects’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “supply-chain problems, especially related to steel, are beginning to affect road and bridge projects that contractors are doing in this area for the state Department of Transportation.”

‘Toomey backs LNG after Warren’s letter criticizing natural gas companies’: The Pittsburgh Business Times reports that “Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, took issue with a letter sent by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren that criticized the natural gas industry, and says the same liquified natural gas exports she took issue with are actually a boon for the environment and America’s allies.”

‘Which Pa. wines, spirits were top sellers at PLCB stores during the 2020-21 fiscal year?’: PennLive details “the list of the top 25 Pennsylvania-made wines and spirits items sold during the 2020-21 fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. It includes the name of the product, the bottle size, (unit sales) and dollar sales.”

‘Board of Pardons secretary resigns from central Pa. prison advisory board’: PennLive reports that “Board of Pardons Secretary Brandon J. Flood has resigned from his seat on Dauphin County Prison’s advisory board, officials announced during a Wednesday afternoon meeting.”

‘Mayor Kenney nominates Seth Bluestein to fill the vacant City Commissioner post’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “Mayor Jim Kenney has nominated Seth Bluestein, a longtime aide to departing City Commissioner Al Schmidt, to fill Schmidt’s vacancy on the board that runs Philadelphia’s elections.”

‘Dispute escalates between Mayor Kenney and two elected officials over Philly’s gun violence plan’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier published a half-dozen letters between their offices and the administration showing them repeatedly ask for clarification on programs.”

‘Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez wants to ban lawmakers from making more than $25,000 from side jobs’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “City Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez on Thursday will introduce legislation prohibiting city lawmakers from making more than $25,000 from side jobs and requiring them to disclose more information about outside employment. It would be the most significant ethics reform proposal since the convictions of Councilmember Bobby Henon and former electricians union leader John J. Dougherty on federal corruption charges.”

‘Willie Brown, longtime head of SEPTA transit workers union, has stepped down’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “Willie Brown, longtime president of Transport Workers Union Local 234, has stepped down as the president of SEPTA’s largest labor union.” 

‘Want a Delco government contract? First, you must disclose political contributions’: WHYY reports that “in its latest attempt at ethics reform, Delaware County Council has enacted an ordinance that requires contractors to disclose contributions to county officials, certain statewide officials, and political parties prior to conducting county business.”

‘City Council evaluates district’s new lotto-based admissions process for its top schools’: KYW Newsradio reports that “the Philadelphia School District’s new lottery-based admissions policy for its top magnet schools is drawing scrutiny from City Council.”

‘In a few weeks, plastic bags, straws will be banned in West Chester’: The Daily Local News reports that “starting Jan. 1, a new borough ordinance will require the West Chester Senior Center’s Second Reading Bookstore–along with all other borough merchants and restaurants–to furnish paper bags rather than plastic.”

‘Bucks County commissioners adopt 2022 budget with no tax increase’: WFMZ reports that “without discussion, at their Wednesday morning meeting, the Bucks County commissioners adopted the 2022 county budget, which holds the line on taxes.”

‘Pittsburgh’s school board map needs to be redrawn. But finding a racial balance is harder now’: WESA reports that “the eyes of the nation, or at least of its politicians and pundits, have been focused on Harrisburg, where state officials are busily redrawing boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts that could re-shape the political landscape. But perhaps the first new political map to be finalized — and the one that will strike closest to home for many Pittsburghers — will be the one that recasts the nine districts of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board.”

‘What the changes to Pittsburgh’s residential parking permit program mean for you’: WESA reports that “Pittsburgh City Council passed amendments to the city’s Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program this week for the first time in decades. For residents living in these areas, the new legislation may bring a few changes.”

‘City Council advances legislation to reduce traffic stops’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “City Council advanced legislation Wednesday to reduce traffic stops for secondary violations, such as a broken taillight or expired registration.”

‘Infrastructure cash welcome, but won’t cover all needs, officials say’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “southwestern Pennsylvania will be ready when federal infrastructure money becomes available next year, but residents should temper their expectations of how far the money can go.”

‘Pittsburgh could direct parking tax revenues to pension fund for another 5 years’: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “weeks after voting to remove a pension offset for city employees, Pittsburgh City Council is now considering a measure to extend the length of time it dedicates parking tax revenues to the pension fund by five years.”

‘Pittsburgh City Council looks to create food justice fund with $1.8M in pandemic relief money’: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “Pittsburgh City Council is considering a proposal to use $1.8 million in federal pandemic relief money to create a food justice fund.”

‘Westmoreland Co. lawmaker offers to help with vaccine exemptions as covid-19 infections surge’: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “a state lawmaker is offering “vaccination exemption assistance,” while local health officials plead with residents to mask up and get vaccinated and Excela Health struggles to deal with covid-19 infections that have pushed its three Westmoreland County hospitals beyond capacity. State Rep. Leslie Rossi, R-Unity, said she offered help to those seeking vaccination exemptions in response to growing inquiries from fearful constituents in her district, which includes portions of eastern Westmoreland and western Somerset counties.”

‘Audubon workers in Pennsylvania vote to unionize’: Pittsburgh City Paper reports that “after a year-long effort, Audubon workers in Pennsylvania overwhelmingly approved a vote to unionize on Dec. 13.”

‘Hearing held on PFA against Greene County DA’: The Observer-Reporter reports that “the protection-from-abuse order against Greene County District Attorney David Russo filed by his estranged wife last month will remain in place for another two months as part of an agreement between the two sides during a hearing on the matter Tuesday afternoon.”

‘Council adopts heavily amended Scranton budget that holds taxes steady’: The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that “City council capped a turbulent budget process Tuesday by adopting a significantly amended spending plan that holds taxes steady in 2022.”

‘Luzerne County Council adopts no-tax-hike 2022 budget’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “in its final meeting of the year, Luzerne County Council unanimously approved a no-tax-hike 2022 budget and acknowledged the departure of five of 11 council members with proclamations.”

‘Former Luzerne County Children and Youth director sentenced to probation’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “former Luzerne County Children and Youth Director Joanne Van Saun was sentenced Wednesday to 34 months of probation for child endangerment and obstruction offenses, with the first nine months on house arrest, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.”

‘Dauphin County commissioners pass no tax increase budget for 2022’: PennLive reports that “Dauphin County commissioners approved a county general fund budget for 2022 that keeps the county’s streak of no tax increases intact, but they’re digging deeper into the county’s cash reserves to do it.”

 

Opinion  
Ronna McDaniel: Why aren’t Biden and the Democrats doing more to stop crime in big cities like Philly? 
Andrew Cuff: Western Pennsylvania Is Dying – or Is It?
Khalif Ali: Why we’re fighting in Commonwealth Court to protect your vote
John L. Micek: Report: States, incl. Pa., take varied approaches to broadband funding | Wednesday Morning Coffee
Paul Muschick: Why I think Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers are phonies when they act concerned about COVID-19
Chief John T. Bey: If you want to help police, don’t make it easier to carry a concealed weapon 
Ann L. Thompson and Robert R. Fehnel: We cannot let our schools remain dramatically underfunded
PJ Brennan: UPenn chief medical officer: Pa. schools should keep enforcing masks, regardless of court decision | Expert Opinion
LNP | LancasterOnline Editorial Board: Lancaster County’s hospitals are caring for a record number of COVID-19 patients. They need help from elected officials and from us.
Post-Gazette Editorial Board: Young people need a purpose to cut violence
Jenice Armstrong: Philly just promoted four Black female police officers to captain. It’s about time. 
Shawana Moore: Like many Black women, I faced implicit bias during childbirth — but help is on the way | Expert Opinion
Elaine Maimon: How To Put More Teachers Into Philly Schools 
Emily Fernberger and Yvonne Blake: Online vs. in-person shopping? Two shoppers debate. | Pro/Con

December 16th, 2021 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Playbook, Top Stories | No Comments