October 20, 2023

By the time you read this screed today, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan will still not be speaker of the House, but given the tone in D.C., there may be fisticuffs. Impressive, however, is the fact that since January, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has set a modern-day record by losing 18 straight speaker votes. Some records may never be broken, unless, you know, they nominate Jim Jordan again. 

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.4%, the lowest it has been since 1976. And yet, like many states, we are struggling to fill open positions from nursing to teaching to manufacturing. Maybe we just don’t have enough people. Can we do a tax credit for procreation or nah?

Speaking of worker shortages, a new report came out this week showing that states that used COVID money to prop up their childcare industries are in a world of hurt right now. Not that we blame them – the money was there, after all. But now comes the tough part: finding workers and funding facilities. By not doing so, you are gonna see an entire generation of people who can do nothing but work from home.

Pennsylvania is slated to receive a billion clams over 18 years from a nationwide $26 billion opioid settlement with Johnson & Johnson who, because of the steep fine, was forced to change its name to just Johnson. Counties are already quibbling over who gets what, which is the unfortunate consequence of having 67 freaking counties. Do we really need that many? Or 500 school districts, for that matter?

The Shapiro administration celebrated the capping of the 100th orphan well in the state (not to be confused with Orson Welles). Abandoned oil and gas wells are everywhere in our fine Commonwealth, and thanks to Uncle Joe’s Biden Bucks, Team Shapiro is well on its way to remedying that situation.

The state House this week voted on a measure to move the 2024 primary election date to April 16, which caps off a long, strange trip through the lower chamber for that bill. Along the way there were, by last count, 35 other dates and policy changes proposed, voted down, reconsidered, amended, un-amended, washed, rinsed and finally voted out.

Meanwhile, the perpetual freeze between the House and Senate appeared to be thawing a tiny bit, as both chambers agreed to move forward with critical legislation to fund hospitals and EMS services. See?  That wasn’t so hard, right?

Meanwhile, landmark legislation that would allow independent voters to vote in primaries cleared a House committee this week (shameless client plug!) The bill now moves to the full House, while 1.2 million Pennsylvanians await action. Yes, we currently disenfranchise 1.2 million voters, including 400,000 veterans, because they haven’t “picked a team,” or some nonsense like that.

If you haven’t registered to vote this November, you blew it. The deadline passed, you slacker. If you have registered and would like to know how to vote by mail, click here. Voting from your couch is pretty cool.

Legislation that would crack down on scofflaws who pass school buses is also meandering through the process, which is a good thing. If you like to pass school buses because you are a very busy person who has things to do, you deserve to be chained in a sewer, although the proposed new penalties aren’t quite that harsh, as we understand it.

Retired state employees (another shameless client plug coming!) rallied this week for legislation that would provide them with a cost-of-living increase after 20 years of being stiffed. Try living comfortably in 20 years on half of what you make today. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

If you wanna see the most adorable thing ever, check out the footage from Parkside Elementary School in Philadelphia, where mayoral hopefuls Cherelle Parker and David Oh were told what the kids think would make the city a better place. According to the wee ones: more pizza places, more McDonald’s and to “stop making fun of each other.” Yup, sounds like a perfect plan to us! And a child shall lead them…

Another client shout-out goes to Kennywood Park, as the state House recognized the storied amusement park on its 125th anniversary. We are sad to report the celebration did NOT come with Potato Patch fries, an oversight which we instructed our own Brendan Schubert to make sure never happens again.

A big congratulations to our captain of the S.S. Triad, Roy Wells, as he was just installed as a board member of the Public Affairs Council, a nationwide, bipartisan who’s-who of public affairs professionals.  Roy is out there again, being a lifelong learner!

If you have nothing better to do at 10 a.m. Sunday, tune in to ABC 27’s This Week in PA, where our own Mike Manzo will once again try not to make a complete ass of himself on television.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Spain, where a Lithuanian man was taken into custody for faking a heart attack to avoid paying his tab at a restaurant for the 20th time. Faking a heart attack, while a decent strategy for dining and dashing, is also tempting fate in a way that is way too dangerous. One of these days, his heart is gonna be like, “Fine, wise guy, here is a 95% blockage for ya.  Enjoy!”

That’s what passes for news around here, as the mad dash to the elections is underway. We will be back next week with all the news we give a flying blue fig about, so stop by and say hello! Until then, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!