June 19th Ups & Downs
Police reform is discussed in Harrisburg, infighting arises in the Philadelphia Democratic Party, plus a court rules against a Lebanon County order on medical marijuana. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Police Reform. Although some Democrats call it simply a “great start,” this week a House committee unanimously passed two police reform bills. PA Post reports that “House Bill 1910 would require mandatory training for police officers to address child abuse,” while “House Bill 1841 would require an employer to disclose employment information to a law enforcement agency that is conducting a background investigation of an applicant.”
Bob Brady. It hasn’t exactly been a smooth week for the Philadelphia Democratic Party. While Democrats are seemingly divided on what to do with the Christopher Columbus statue in Marconi Plaza, another rift in the party was made known when Brian Eddis, leader of the 63rd Ward in Northeast Philadelphia and Local 98 business agent, called on Philadelphia Democratic Party Chair Bob Brady to resign over “lack of diversity in the party.” Although Brady has support to maintain the position, the local party held a meeting to discuss racial tensions in the city on Thursday, which the Philadelphia Inquirer described as “often heated and did not produce a consensus.”
PA Unemployment. It’s still high, but the rate has decreased from the previous month. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced on Friday morning that the state’s unemployment rate went down to 13.1% in May, which is a few points down from the previous month when it was 15.1% in April. The national rate also fell 1.4% as well from the previous month and is now at 13.3%.
Lebanon County. In another win for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court provided a unanimous ruling that said people holding a “valid medical marijuana card are immune from “arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner” under state law, even if they are under a court’s supervision,” the AP reports. This was in response to Lebanon County’s court system attempting to prohibit people who are on probation or parole to use medical marijuana.
Impact Fees. Down from an all-time high. StateImpactPA reports that Pennsylvania collected about 20% less in impact fees from natural gas drillers last year than in 2018. The Public Utility Commission reported that drillers paid just over $200 million last year, while in 2018 it was a record high of $251 million.
Sharon Goss. The Philipsburg Councilwoman was censured this week by her colleagues after she made comments on Facebook that she would call the police of Black Lives Matter protesters who planned to gather in a local park, according to WJAC. In addition to being censured, she also will not be able to serve on a committee and will be restricted from borough records and information.
Frank Burns. A Commonwealth Court panel ruled in favor of the Cambria County Democrat ordering the state’s Liquor Control Board to “provide a list of restaurant liquor licenses that are available for auction” throughout the state, PennLive reports. The decision also supported a ruling by the Office of Open Records, which also “found the data Burns sought from the LCB is public information.”
Post-Gazette. If you were wondering if things have calmed down at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since their most recent down arrow just a few weeks ago… the answer is no. Alexis Johnson, who was removed from covering protests in honor of George Floyd due to her tweet about Kenny Chesney concert mess, filed a lawsuit against the PG this week. Meanwhile Michael Santiago, a Pulitzer prize-winning photojournalist, announced that he accepted a buyout and is leaving the paper after he said that he was banned from covering protests.
Josh Shapiro. A lot can change until November, but an election analyst at the Cook Political report rated the Attorney General’s race in Pennsylvania as “Likely Democratic.” Louis Jacobson, the ratings analyst, describes Shapiro, as a “rising star in the state,” and also points to his fundraising advantage over Heidelbaugh as well, although he adds that Republicans are “enthusiastic” about their nominee as well.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
It’s rare moments like this when I miss Darlene Harris on council. Pittsburgh needs her thoughts on bears rn. https://t.co/xmIJCecmAe
— Ryan Deto (@RyanDeto) June 16, 2020