December 15, 2023

We begin this week by sending all of our best wishes to Rep. Joe Kerwin, a first-term Republican who will be deploying to East Africa soon with his Pennsylvania National Guard colleagues. Good luck, Joe, you make Pennsylvania proud!

The Dow hit an all-time high after the Federal Reserve announced there will be no more interest rate hikes, because inflation is under control and the “coming recession” never really showed up. Or if it did, nobody seemed to notice.

The U.S. House voted to authorize an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, a move that was so shocking it was the fourth story on a local 6 p.m. news broadcast, right behind a story of a barn in Lebanon County catching on fire. Eventually, House leaders may get around to telling us why they launched the inquiry, but only after Christmas break.

Meanwhile, a massive defense spending bill got through the House, but funding for Ukraine is still mired in the mud (like most Russian tanks) with a debate about immigration policy. If Joe Biden relents and says, “Build that wall,” the nation’s head might come clean off. This is the type of stuff we ask Santa for.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave his farewell speech this week and, much like a man who no longer has any Fs to give, he was very clear about his feelings toward some of his former colleagues.  Safe to say he is not on Congressman Matt Gaetz’s Christmas card list.

Back in wonderful Pennsylvania, the House and Senate spent the week squaring up all family business like Michael Corleone (we still maintain Moe Green had it coming to him.) The long-awaited code bills were passed, which officially ends the budget debate a scant two months before Governor Shapiro announces the next one. You think this year was fun? Wait until Shapiro Budget #2 debate begins during an election year.

In all, an astounding 34 bills were sent to the governor for his signature during the final week, once again proving the old adage that nothing focuses the mind like the surety that one will be executed in a fortnight. One of the big winners was school mental health funding, a huge priority for both parties that somehow got wrapped around the axle.

Also getting to the governor’s desk was Clean Slate 3, a wide-ranging reform of the state’s probation and parole system. Say what you want about partisan gridlock, but over the past three years our criminal justice system got a serious overhaul because both parties made it a priority. Kudos to all who toiled in that effort.

The legislature did, however, move to aggressively crack down on so-called “porch pirates” by making that offense a felony. So listen up, Johnny Depp, think twice before trying to jack our Amazon packages up in here.

During the flurry of activity, the House did pause to formally recognize the Taylor Swift Era, which began last year and is expected to last until the earth crashes into the sun. The noncontroversial resolution proved controversial enough that the vote was 103-100. Imagine the wrath of the Swifties if the damned thing had failed. Do you realize how close we were to anarchy??

And with that, the House and Senate adjourned until March. With the House chamber now deadlocked at 101-101 due to the departure of a Bucks County Democrat, don’t expect a ton of heavy lifting until the Pittsburgh Pirates are officially eliminated from the 2024 playoff race, which should be right around the second week of April.

With federal money raining down on Penn’s Woods for the development of renewable energy, how are we doing, you ask? Well, astute reader, not all that great (despite the efforts of our friends at Doral Renewables) because the PJM approval process is so hopelessly screwed to the floor that if you applied for an interconnect today, you would likely get an answer sometime after the Swift Era ends.

A year after Philadelphia banned single-use plastic bags, the city is now figuring out that its residents are using a metric crap-ton of paper bags, which honestly should not have been all that hard to see coming.  In response, you will now be charged 15 cents for each paper bag. Expect this all to continue until eventually you have to carry your groceries around in your bare hands.

Frontier Airlines announced this week it will begin direct service between Philly and Pittsburgh, with tickets starting at $19, which is roughly 1/100th of what it costs to drive the Turnpike. The downside is that Frontier also charges you an additional fee for pretty much everything except the air you breathe on the plane.

This week the PA Chamber held its annual dinner, hosted by Pennsylvania’s own Bradley Cooper, who we have been told is an actor of some note in addition to being a huge Eagles fan. Thanks to Mr. Cooper for single-handedly doubling the attendance at the dinner.

Shameless Client Plug time! Give it up for our pals at the Trust for Public Lands for their new partnership with Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s parks initiative.

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to Idaho, where people sat in their cars for eight hours to partake of the fare at Idaho’s first In-N-Out Burger. Read that again. EIGHT. HOURS. Honestly, we are not sure we would spend eight hours waiting on a new organ if we were dying, let alone for a mediocre burger.

That’s what passes for news around here as 2024 approaches like a freight train.  Next Friday we will be frantically shopping for the gifts we have not bought yet, so we will take this opportunity to bid y’all a fond farewell to 2023! We hope Santa brings you peace, happiness, and an on-time 2024 state budget.  From all your friends at Team Triad, happy holidays!