June 14, 2024

She’s a grand old flag, and by old, we mean 246 years. Happy Flag Day from all of us at Team Triad! Fly it high and proud, and let’s get on with the show!

To the shock of absolutely no one except himself, Hunter Biden was found guilty on gun charges this week, all but dooming his chances of being elected president. In perhaps the most ironic moment of all, Gun Owners of America (not exactly darlings of the progressive movement) blasted the decision, saying the case should never have been filed in the first place.

This week, 538.com reported that Pennsylvania is the likely tipping point of the 2024 presidential election. As of today, Biden has a very slight lead according to their data. Now for the truly horrifying part. It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that the whole election comes down to Pennsylvania, and because Pennsylvania has an automatic recount trigger, the entire nation could be watching the Keystone State recount its vote tally for DAYS to find out who won. If that doesn’t make your blood run cold…

And did we mention that folks are still suing over mail-in ballots? Well, they are, Buttercup. At some point, the lack of clarity around what is a legal ballot and what isn’t should really be solved by the General Assembly and not a string of court cases stretching from Altoona to Abington.

And while our dear Commonwealth continues to wander aimlessly around the topic of mail-in ballots, other states have actually moved on to – wait for it – electronic voting! Can you imagine? Voting on the internet, by e-mail or actually faxing a ballot? No, you can’t imagine it because you live in Pennsylvania, and electronic voting will be legal here right about the time the earth crashes into the sun.

Beyonce Knowles’ husband is wading into the shark-infested waters of the Pennsylvania school-choice debate, we learned this week. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation is putting some serious cabbage behind the effort, positioning the rapper squarely at odds with the NAACP. Lest you underestimate Mr. Z, remember, he sells ice in the winter and fire in hell. So, there’s that.

Speaking of vouchers and education, it appears as though it is entirely legal to teach class while drunk.  Who knew?

Gov. Josh Shapiro sent the talking heads into a frenzy when he said that former President Trump needs to “stop shit-talking America.” Seeing as how the former president always conducts himself with the utmost restraint and decorum, we eagerly await his measured and factual response. Ha, kidding! He might just challenge Shapiro to a steel cage match!

Lawmakers and Philadelphia city officials are scrambling to find out exactly what in the Sam Hill went down at the University of the Arts, which abruptly closed up shop and blew town last week. It would seem that any university that low on cash might have sent out a warning or something before padlocking the joint.

Staying on higher education, it was a big week in that arena as the state Senate passed a raft of bills to reform the system and begin to enact Governor Shapiro’s vision of performance-based funding. The state House, as you may recall, tackled the basic education issue last week, meaning the table is set to finalize both pieces and get the 2024/2025 state budget closer to graduation. Get those caps and gowns ready!

Meanwhile, Penn State (shameless client plug!) keeps on doing everything in its power to trim costs, including this week’s announcement of regionalization efforts at Commonwealth campuses. Hand it to Dear Old State for getting ahead of the game when it comes to the future of higher education delivery in Pennsylvania.

Last year, Pennsylvania finally joined the other 49 states in providing state funds for indigent defense. Golf claps all around. As fate would have it, that $7 million didn’t go very far, and the ACLU has now sued the Commonwealth, saying the true price tag should be closer to one-hundred million clams.  We are no math experts around here, but we do know a thing or two about the General Assembly and this much is dead, solid certain: there will not be a $93 million increase for indigent defense funding this year.

Did you know that 10 years after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, Pennsylvania law still prohibits it? The law, of course, is invalid, but it is still on the books, much like that party guest who you find on your couch the next morning, eating your cereal, smoking Marlboros, and watching TV in his undies. A plan is afoot (never ahand, always afoot) to repeal it, and man, is that gonna be a fun day. Trust us on that one.

A pro-marijuana legalization group called Joints for Justice rallied in Harrisburg this week. A message to those fine folks, from a team that knows that building very well: other organizations like yours hold rallies and then give away things to lawmakers and staff, like ice cream, notepads, milkshakes and other trinkets. You see where we are going here, right? Joints for Justice? Hello? You missed a hell of an opportunity last week. Do better.

Over on the Triad Socials, we began a series of throwback photos of state budget debates of yore. After all, we have a few folks working here who have helped craft a LOT of state budgets. First up is short-sleeve dress shirt-clad Roy Wells. Guess the budget year, and he will sign a Triad hat for ya! 

Also, make sure you meet the power duo of interns, Grace and Willow, as they toil in Triad trenches this summer!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Minnesota, where a woman is facing 30 years in prison for having bong water in her car. Minnesota has long since decriminalized drug paraphernalia, but the drafters of said law did NOT include bong water, just the actual bong, in the definition section. This is why having good legislative staff is crucial, people! They are overworked and underpaid!

That’s what passes for news around here, as the General Assembly takes a week off, and we brace for a late June heat wave, two things that don’t really happen all that often. Until next time, from all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!