A bill receives unanimous support from Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, marijuana takes center stage after a Twitter Q&A with the Gov, and a group of Philly Dems make the news over a petition on net neutrality. All of the and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Criminal Justice Reform. As a shutdown of the federal government looms, there was one topic that received unanimous support in Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation. The bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, “The First Step Act” breezed through the Senate with 87 votes in favor of the legislation. Both Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey voted in favor of it, although Toomey did express some reservations about the bill afterwards. The U.S. House also overwhelmingly passed the bill after the Senate by a vote of 358-36. All 18 Pennsylvania Congressional Representatives voted in favor of the bill.
Healthcare.gov Insurance Enrollment. According to the AP, the number of Pennsylvanians enrolling in insurance plans sold through Healthcare.gov marketplace dropped for the second consecutive year, although they cite “stable premiums and an increased choice of plans.” Close to 370,000 Pennsylvanians signed up for coverage for the upcoming year, while enrollment for 2018 was 400,000 and 426,000 in 2017. The AP reports that some state officials criticize President Donald Trump’s administration over “slashing federal funding for marketing and assistance,” while the state’s insurance commissioner Jessica Altman referenced the unemployment drop in PA and the payroll increases over the past year.
Marijuana Advocates. It’s not legislation, but it’s a step in the right direction for those who want it legalized in PA. During a Twitter Q&A earlier this week, Gov. Tom Wolf said that he thinks it’s time to “take a serious and honest look at recreational marijuana.” Previously, Wolf has never made comments committing to seriously considering the full on legalization of marijuana. In August, Wolf said in a KDKA interview that he believed that Pennsylvanians weren’t “ready” for the legalization of marijuana. State Sen. Majority Leader Jake Corman called the idea of legalization for recreational purposes as “reckless and irresponsible.”
Pennsylvania’s Voting Machine Affordability. Gov. Tom Wolf says it’s the “right thing” for every county in the state to buy new voting machines before the 2020 presidential election, but he acknowledges this will come at a high price tag, according to the AP. Wolf described the estimated cost of $125 million as a “big, big purchase.” “Pennsylvania is one of 13 states where some or all voters use machines that store votes electronically without printed ballots or other paper-based backups that could be used to double-check the vote, according to researchers at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice,” the AP reports. Wolf has pushed for the state’s Congressional delegation to lobby for more federal funds to help with the project.
Philadelphia GOP Mayoral Primary. It’s a tall task for a Republican to win Mayoral election in Philadelphia, let alone one term a Mayor, but the GOP primary is officially underway. Billy Ciancaglini, a South Philly defense attorney, was the first to officially announce a bid for May’s GOP primary. His campaign website’s header states, “End The Sanctuary City. Stop Safe Injection Sites. Eliminate The Soda Tax,” while he’s already using the hashtag #SGBD, “which stands for “S**** gonna be different.” According to Philly Clout, the Republican primary may shape up to be a crowded affair as John Featherman, Daphne Goggins and Mark Cumberland are all mulling runs as well. The chairman of Philadelphia’s Republican Committee, Michael Meehan told the Inquirer that he hopes the primary is not a “crowded affair” so the party can unite behind one candidate.
Philly Dems and Net Neutrality. They support net neutrality, but won’t put their names on a petition. According to today’s Philly Clout, Philadelphia’s Congressional Representatives Bob Brady, Brendan Boyle, and Dwight Evans have all declined to sign a Democratic petition to force a vote on restoring the Obama-era rules, despite stating their support for net neutrality. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware) did sign the petition after being singled out by Gizmodo for avoiding to sign it. The Inquirer reports that Evans, Boyle, and Brady want a bill, but that “the debate is over process.” According to the Inquirer, there are just 14 House Democrats who have not signed the petition, which is led by fellow PA Democrat Mike Doyle.
Darlene Harris Primary. The Pittsburgh City Councilwoman is no stranger to primary challengers, as she faced opponents in 2015, according to the Post-Gazette, but a new face has emerged to challenge her in 2019. Chris Rosselot, a former staffer for Sen. Bob Casey, announced his plans to primary the incumbent representative, the Tribune Review reports. Rosselot, 38, may not be alone in his quest to unseat Harris in the Democratic primary, as the Tribune Review reports that two others have announced “plans to run”, but one of them has already cancelled his campaign.
Scott Fairchild. The former chief of staff and campaign manager to former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy has been named the new Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director, according to Roll Call. Fairchild has served as Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s chief of staff, most recently.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Oh how the times have changed!
.@QuinnipiacPoll of the 2014 PA-GOV race, released 5yrs ago today. I’m just imagining what would happen if you could have told each of them what’s happened since and where they’d be today: https://t.co/2Kk3bOCSga cc: @DaveDaviesWHYY @DKElections @CPotterPgh @ByJohnLMicek pic.twitter.com/ZP0cREnZzb
— Adam Bonin (@adambonin) December 18, 2018
If you bring your gun back in Philly, what could you get???
traded in my gold-plated desert eagle and got these sweet ugg boots
— Ryan W Briggs (@rw_briggs) December 19, 2018