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January 31st Playbook

What’s Next for Act 77 and voting by mail? Endorsements for Shapiro, Davis but not Senate for Dems. White, McCormick pick up caucus straw vote nods. Here is the Playbook. 



Democrats Endorse Shapiro, Davis; Leave Senate Nod Vacant: The Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee (PADSC) convened its General Business and Endorsement Meeting on Saturday and, as expected, endorsed Josh Shapiro and Austin Davis, but stopped short on giving a nod to a U.S. Senate candidate.

McCormick Stops Bartos’ Win Streak; Oz Finishes Third: In the latest round of GOP regional caucus straw votes for U.S. Senate, Dave McCormick doubled up his competitors in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania.

What’s Next for Act 77: Now that the Commonwealth Court has made a ruling against Act 77, what’s next for the legislation that approved vote-by-mail in Pennsylvania?

Ups and Downs: Did you miss us? A staple of PoliticsPA returns with a new guy at the helm. I’d like to thank everyone for your warm welcome as the new managing editor of PoliticsPA. It’s nice to see that Republicans and Democrats can agree on that. And as a result … we’re only going for up arrows today.

BREAKING: Commonwealth Court Rules Act 77 Unconstitutional: According to a Commonwealth Court filing released Friday, the court ruled that Act 77, allowing residents to vote by mail in Pennsylvania, violates Article VII, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania constitution.

‘Pennsylvania Democrats deadlock on endorsing in Senate race’: The Associated Press reports that “Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party committee members deadlocked Saturday in suburban Harrisburg on a vote to endorse in the party’s hotly contested primary race for U.S. Senate, giving Conor Lamb by far the most votes, but not enough for the party’s backing.”

‘Dave White, David McCormick win Southwest Pa. straw poll for Governor, U.S. Senate’: PennLive reports that “the latest round of regional straw polls on Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial and U.S. Senate candidates delivered clear victories to the campaigns of Dave White and David McCormick, respectively.”

‘Appeals filed with Supreme Court after Pa.’s vote-by-mail statute is ruled unconstitutional by a lower court’: PennLive reports that “a narrow Commonwealth Court majority struck down Pennsylvania’s new but widely-used law permitting no-excuse mail-in voting Friday, arguing that the state Constitution should have been amended before the Legislature made this kind of significant change to voting processes across the state.”

‘Pa.’s Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls hold a ‘friendly’ forum on eve of endorsement meeting’: PennLive reports that “on the eve of a possible state committee endorsement vote in Harrisburg, seven Democratic candidates for an open U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania traded policy ideas and occasional jabs on electability and authenticity Friday night, in a mostly cordial, Zoom-based forum sponsored by the Pennsylvania Democratic Women’s Caucus.”

‘Biden says bridge collapse underscores need and opportunity for infrastructure investments’: WESA reports that “in Pittsburgh Friday, President Joe Biden said the collapse of a bridge in the city’s Frick Park early Friday morning exemplified in stark and regrettable terms the need for historic investments in the nation’s infrastructure.”

‘‘Conspiracy Circus Wagon’: Former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto Responds To Criticism Raised After Bridge Collapse’: KDKA reports that “Peduto, in the tweets on Sunday, railed against the “extreme binary decision making” and “conspiracy circus wagon” that he said have characterized the conversation about the bridge collapse.”

‘City Council Member Says Inspection Standards Must Increase After Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse’: KDKA reports that “the investigation into why and how a bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh’s Point Breeze neighborhood on Friday morning is underway.” 

‘Pa. likely to shatter $80 million record for spending in a governor’s race’: PennLive reports that “electing Pennsylvania’s next governor is shaping up to be the costliest in state history.”

‘Senator wants cocktails to-go to make a comeback in Pa.’: PennLive reports that “two days after hearing Pennsylvania restaurant and bar owners renewed their plea for permission to once again sell takeout cocktails, Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie County, put the order in. On Friday, he announced he, along with Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee Chairman John Yudichak, I-Luzerne County, plan to introduce legislation that would permanently allow the sale of cocktails to-go.”

‘A complete guide and amendment tracker for proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s Constitution’: Spotlight PA reports that “since January 2021, Pennsylvania legislators have proposed more than 70 changes to the constitution, some of which could radically reshape how parts of state government work.” 

‘Dr. Oz rushes to help unconscious man at Pennsylvania GOP event: ‘It’s my calling’’: Fox News reports that “Dr. Mehmet Oz aided a man who called out for a doctor and then collapsed at a Pennsylvania Republican event this weekend.”

‘Guys whose names start with B-A-R lead GOP gov, U.S. senate caucusing’: The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that “Jeff Bartos and Lou Barletta have emerged as the early leaders among Republican state committee members for the elected statewide jobs they want.”

‘GOP politicians slam Biden as he visits Pittsburgh to promote infrastructure package’: Fox News reports that “Pennsylvania Republicans panned President Biden as he promoted his infrastructure package in the state on Friday.”

‘Legislation pits two climate efforts — solar energy and plugging abandoned gas wells — against each other’: StateImpactPA reports that “a measure in the state Senate seeks to profit off Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to power half the state government’s electricity needs with solar.”

‘Candidate for Pennsylvania Senate Dr. Mehmet Oz makes campaign stop in Erie’: WJET reports that “now that Pat Toomey is retiring, there are a long list of Republicans running for U.S. Senate and Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of them. There was a crowd of people on hand at the Brewerie at Union Station waiting to talk to Dr. Oz.”

‘Rep. Mike Kelly issues statement in favor of court tossing state mail-in voting law’: WJET reports that “on Friday, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled the state’s no-excuse mail-in voting law unconstitutional. U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) issued a statement in favor of the decision.”

‘Ward amendment would refuse abortion rights in Pennsylvania’: The Altoona Mirror reports that “the state Legislature’s latest effort against abortion made it to the Senate this week, launching a constitutional fight even as the U.S. Supreme Court considers altering the right to an abortion nationwide.”

‘Pa. Supreme Court upholds ruling that undated mail-in ballots should not count in tight Lehigh County judge race’: The Allentown Morning Call reports that “the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined Thursday to hear an appeal from Lehigh County Judge candidate Zachary Cohen in a legal case over undated mail-in ballots that could change the outcome of the close county judge race.”

‘Councilman Derek Green is proposing Philly’s biggest ethics and elections reforms in years. Here’s what’s in it.’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “Green’s five-part plan, which he has dubbed the Civics Legislative Agenda, comes in the wake of the conviction of Councilmember Bobby Henon on federal corruption charges.”

‘Need your 2021 Philly city wage tax refund? Here’s how to get your money.’: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “many workers need a Philadelphia city wage tax refund — again. The city’s Revenue Department has updated its website and tried to make refunds easier.”

‘Philly redistricting 101: What to know about the city’s fast-tracked political mapmaking’: Billy Penn reports that “Philadelphia’s political map is changing this year. New borders are being created for each of the city’s 10 councilmanic districts. Some will get larger, and others will get smaller, based on population changes.”

‘Local Democrat and Republican leaders weigh in after court finds Pennsylvania mail-in voting law unconstitutional’: WJET reports that “local republicans say the court decision was right because it is based on the constitution of the state… Erie County Democratic Chairman Jim Wertz says the bottom lines is that in 2019, the bill was passed by both Democrats and Republicans.”

‘Erie County Councilman holds fundraiser to support his race for state representative’: WJET reports that “Erie County Councilman Andre Horton announced that he is running for District one Pennsylvania State Representative. Horton held a meet and greet fundraiser on January 30th at Pineapple Eddie’s Southern Bistro to garner support for his campaign.”  

‘Pa. Restaurant Association urges second round of revitalization grants’: Montgomery Media reports that “the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association is asking Congress to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which made grants available for restaurant owners impacted by the COVID pandemic.”

‘Admiral Rachel Levine: “You have to do the policy work.”’: The Philadelphia Gay News reports that “Admiral Levine spoke to PGN about the federal government’s work to improve LGBTQ health outcomes, the need for LGBTQ visibility, and her thoughts on being a trailblazer.”

‘Philly to pilot a guaranteed income experiment, giving cash to some needy residents’: WHYY reports that “Philadelphia is set to soon join other U.S. cities in attempting an experimental economic mobility pilot that will give recipients cash payments, no-strings attached.”

‘Upper Darby mayor wants to use $1M of ARPA funds for gun violence prevention’: WHYY reports that “Upper Darby Township received more than $20 million in its first allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funding — part of the $1.9 billion COVID-19 stimulus package President Joe Biden signed last March. Now, Mayor Barbarann Keffer has presented a proposal for how to spend that money.”

‘Board Of Elections Chair Expects Mail-In Voting Decision To Be Overturned’: Levittown Now reports that “the head of the Bucks County Board of Elections weighed on the court ruling that struck down the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.”

‘After bridge collapse, local officials stress need for immediate infrastructure investment’: WESA reports that “the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge on Friday morning had local officials loudly emphasizing the need for investment in regional infrastructure and touting the future dollars of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package.”

‘Engineering experts weigh in on why Pittsburgh bridge with history of poor ratings might have collapsed’: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “for experts, it’s way too early to reach a conclusion on the cause of the Forbes Avenue bridge collapse on Friday.”

‘Willow, The Biden Family Cat, Is From Western Pennsylvania’: KDKA reports that “the Biden family’s newest White House member has ties to the Pittsburgh area.”

‘PHOTOS: Mayor Gainey joins Coffee Tree employees in union rally’: Pittsburgh City Paper reports that “Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey joined a rally on Jan. 30 in support of unionization efforts of baristas at Coffee Tree Roasters.”

‘Pittsburgh environmental activists attempt to “exorcise” politicians, institutions who support fossil fuels’: Pittsburgh City Paper reports that “a small coalition of environmental activists gathered in Friendship Park on Jan. 27 to call attention to individuals and institutions in southwestern Pennsylvania that they call bad actors in the current climate crisis.”

‘Mayor Gainey signs Disaster Emergency Declaration following Fern Hollow bridge collapse’: WTAE reports that “Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey signed a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for the city for the next several days following a bridge collapse in Frick Park, his office announced Sunday.”

‘Monessen mayor asks for time to make city prosper’: The Observer-Reporter reports that “since Ron Moser became mayor, he has said his goal is to have the city thrive again.”

‘Brown spent close to $1M on street paving, repairs in 2021’: The Citizens Voice reports that “Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown’s administration spent close to $1 million to repave and repair city streets in 2021, a financial report shows.”

‘Union spending in Scranton School Board race tops $60k’: The Scranton Times-Tribune reports that “after more than $60,000 in spending from the American Federation of Teachers and its local union in Scranton, Gilmartin remains on the Scranton School Board.”

‘Luzerne County election bureau proceeding as usual with mail ballots’: The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that “with a special election looming, Luzerne County is particularly impacted by the timing of a state court challenge over the legality of mail ballot voting.”

‘Lancaster County officials urge speedy decision on Act 77 case, say Commonwealth Court ruling was ‘correct legal ruling’’: LNP | LancasterOnline reports that “Lancaster County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino on Friday urged the state’s highest court to rule as soon as possible on whether the expanded vote-by-mail law passed in 2019 is constitutional, because “the clock is ticking on preparing for the primary election in May.””

‘What does the ruling on mail-in voting mean for Berks elections?’: The Reading Eagle reports that “the battle in the courts leaves county election officials in a tough situation.”

‘Reading Mayor delivers State of the City address’: WFMZ reports that “Reading Mayor Eddie Moran acknowledged several accomplishments over the last year in his State of the City address, including the city’s move to 4th largest in the state.”

‘‘Northampton County is the next Flint, Michigan’: Action urged on lead poisoning risk’: The Express-Times reports that “community advocates and a Lehigh Valley housing official joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers last week in calling for more action to protect children and families from lead poisoning.”

‘March for Life Rally sweeps through Perry Square’: WJET reports that “an anti-abortion march swept through the streets of Downtown Erie on January 29th to remember the Roe vs Wade decision.”

‘Pandemic hits city regarding business and local service taxes’: The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reports that “the City of Williamsport had more than a 6% decrease in business privilege and mercantile tax collection based on revenue from 2020, which the city treasurer said it isn’t a good thing to be down, but is better than what was anticipated.”


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Chad Dion Lassiter: Social workers need a seat at the power tables
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Post-Gazette Editorial Board: Bridge collapse: Is local, U.S. infrastructure decline inevitable?
Post-Gazette Editorial Board: Booze on the ballot 
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LNP | LancasterOnline Editorial Board: ATF investigation of Lancaster County Amish farmer highlights the importance of gun regulation 
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John Cole: Solving the Pa. GOP’s amendment addiction crisis | Editorial Cartoon 
Mike Hirsch: I thought my days as a photographer were over. Then something clicked
Nimet Eren: A Philly principal to teachers: Please don’t quit 
Will Bunch: At Texas rally, Trump all but promised a racially charged civil war if he’s indicted 
Lawrence Blum: Why does the United States have so much contempt for its children?
Trudy Rubin: With Russia threatening war with Ukraine, I’m headed to Kyiv

2 Responses

  1. I think voting by mail is a moment of change who’s time has come. Somehow Republicans have been convinced by Trump it only helps the Dems but if you look at Josh Shapiro being the only Dem row officer to win last cycle that is easy rebutted. Making people go to the polls is like making people take a test to be eligible to vote. If a person is eligible and votes by mail, then run a good campaign and stop looking for excuses you lost the election.

    1. Voting by mail was ok when I was active duty. If it is ok for military members and for our former president, maybe it should be ok for all voters as the legislature approved with Act 77. Voting is the solid rock foundation of democracy.

  • Reader Poll: Should President Joe Biden Step Aside?

    • Yes. He should step aside because of his age, declining ability to do the job. (45%)
    • No. He should not step aside. (39%)
    • Yes. He should step aside because he can't beat Donald Trump. (15%)

    Total Voters: 231

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