June 23, 2023

We begin this week by sending our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of State Trooper Jacques Rougeau, who was gunned down in Mifflintown earlier this week. Please send some thoughts and prayers to all of our state’s law enforcement community at this terrible time.

Since we are now in the heat of the budget cycle, we are gonna make this one fast and greasy, folks. Our team is busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt kicking contest (a sport at which we excel), so let’s start off with a trip down I-95. OK, we know Governor Shapiro did a fantastic job getting that road opened today, but we would be remiss if we didn’t also shine a spotlight on some valued Triad clients along the route.

First of all, that glass aggregate that was used to plug the giant hole in the roadway? Yeah, that stuff doesn’t get installed by amateurs. Enter the fine men and women of the Union of Operating Engineers 542, and bam! You got yourself a roadway. What’s that? The surface is too wet? No worries, Pocono Raceway can handle that. They’ll just bring down a giant NASCAR track drier and voila! Dry road, paint away.

When the Pocono pace car arrived on the scene, it was accompanied by the State Police who, thanks to their partnership with Axon (shameless client plug 3), will be outfitted with new body cameras.  And so we are clear, just because the pace car opened that road, you are NOT invited to drive it at 200 miles per hour.

Last but not least, there were three member-companies of our good friends at Associated Pennsylvania Constructors who were involved in the project. They are Buckley & Company, James J. Anderson Construction and Benesch engineering consultants. Here’s what I-95 looks like with traffic, in case you forgot in the last two weeks.

Had enough of our shameless client plugs yet? Well, too bad, so sad. You may have seen Steeler legend Rocky Bleier roaming the capital hallways this week. Well, you can thank our friends at BallotPA for bringing him to town to advocate for open primaries in Pennsylvania, a novel policy that has been seamlessly adopted by 41 other states. Do we really have to be last at everything?

BUT THERE IS MORE! Maybe you also saw Dr. Neeli Bendaputi in Harrisburg this week. Well, she was here the same day that the House voted to advance funding for THE Pennsylvania State University. That’s some glorious timing right there.

Speaking of Dear Old State, their researchers in the College of Agriculture discovered a new species of fish this week, indigenous to the lower Susquehanna River. What did you do this week?

OK, one last client plug, we promise. This morning our friend Nick Cohen, CEO of Doral, appeared before the House GOP Policy Committee to chat about the future of hydrogen in Pennsylvania. If you ever want a primer on that topic, Nick has forgotten more about it than most people will ever know. Bring your thesaurus along for that convo, though – this is not an easily understood subject.

As the House and Senate continued budget negotiations, the House GOP sent out a warning that the June 30 deadline is very much in peril. This is, of course, correct, but outside of a few-block radius around the big building on Second Street, few people will notice. July 4th is coming up, and many folks have already forgotten Harrisburg even exists, if they even knew in the first place.

The House passed the long-awaited bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to, eventually, $15 an hour.  The bill’s fate now rests with the Senate, but we would be remiss if we did not point out that the last time it was raised, there were 161 yes votes in the House. This time around? 103. Times do indeed change, people.

Could there be a surprise player in the negotiation game that will get the wage bill into the stall? Oh, hello there, school vouchers! Didn’t see you standing over in the corner, licking your choppers. June is full of last-minute drama, and it’s only the 23rd. Wake the kids and call the neighbors, next week is gonna be more fun than the original barrel of monkeys, which we were told in our youth that nothing was more fun than.

The House also passed a metric crap-ton (this is an official unit of measurement at Triad) of tax credits this week. Cops, teachers, nurses, poor folks, everybody plays, everybody wins.

The state Senate passed an updated dog law, which is always a bipartisan lovefest up in here because doggos rule. OK, we like us the occasional kitty as well. We are bipartisan and bi-species around here.

Because the House seems to wanna take big swings at literally anything that moves these days, all eyes are parked on that chamber next week as cyber charter reform hits the stage. Good luck with that one, folks. There are aspirations, and then there is straight up masochism. We report, you decide.

And what about the Patient Safety Act, you might ask? That one is still at the gate, but don’t be shocked to see that baby hit the track and run to the Senate next week.

And will the General Assembly try and tackle medical marijuana reform? Magic 8 Ball says “Maybe, baby!” All we ask is that if new licenses are to be issued, maybe we allow some locally owned and minority-owned businesses to have a crack at them? Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right?

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity penned an op-ed asking lawmakers to support adding PTSI to the workers compensation list for our good friends in the PA Professional Firefighters Association. Oops, we slipped in another shameless client plug when y’all weren’t looking! Thanks, Madam Treasurer!

Over on the Triad socials this week, we give you a historical rundown of Juneteenth. Come and check it out!

A huge shout-out to the Hershey Bears, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a thrilling OT Game 7 victory over Coachella Valley (y’all should just keep having your weird little music thingy and let the grown-ups play hockey) for their 12th Calder Cup trophy. Sweetest place on earth, kids!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to a small Nevada town that has been OVERRUN with blood red crickets. If you don’t like bugs, please do not click this link. It is beyond terrifying, and we can’t even believe we watched it. We will never un-see it, and have bleached our eyes. Now, we are no biblical scholars over here, but we are also pretty sure we know what comes after the insect invasion, and it is not good.

That’s what passes for news around here (damn, there was a LOT of it) as we look to the finish line of the fiscal year 2023-2024 budget cycle. We will be here next week because, well, it’s mandatory, and we ain’t about to anger Roy Wells. Come back and join us next Friday. Until then, from your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!