March 3, 2023

We open today’s casserole of news and thinly veiled insults with a true shout-out to our valued friends at Lehigh Valley International Airport. This week, they averted a very dangerous situation by confiscating the luggage of some jackwagon who thought it would be a swell idea to bring explosives onto a plane. The jackwagon in question said he only wanted to shoot off some fireworks on a beach in Florida, which totally explains why there was also butane and meth in his bag.

We also give State Treasurer Stacey Garrity and her staff a big congrats on smacking down the state of Delaware in court, thereby capturing millions of dollars in unclaimed property for their rightful owners: us. Can’t trust those Delawareans. Delawarites. Blue hens.

State Rep. Joanna McClinton made history this week, becoming the first Black woman to wield the speaker’s gavel in the PA House. Huge congratulations to her as she joins Senate Pro Tempore Kim Ward and Supreme Court Chief Justice Debra Todd in the glass-breakers club.

Microsoft is running into a few issues with its new AI chatbox thingy (official name.) In addition to being a very creepy jump across the tech Rubicon, the chatbox has reportedly hit on people and occasionally told them they are fat and ugly. This means that Microsoft has indeed perfected a fake human, from where we sit.

We have long suspected that a soft Philly pretzel is one of life’s perfect foods. What we did not know, however, is that Pennsylvania supplies 80% of the country’s pretzels. With this kind of market dominance, it’s rather shocking that Big Pretzel isn’t more of a player in Pennsylvania politics.

A report was released this week spotlighting (again) that Pennsylvania is the only natural gas-producing state without a severance tax. So once again, we have a semantic fight on our hands over what is a fee and what is a tax. Lather, rinse, repeat like we have been doing for a decade.

The House reconvened this week and took up two measures to provide the long-stalled window of justice for sexual assault survivors. And now the stare down begins with the Senate, who said “been there, done that and we have moved on.”

On the subject of sexual harassment, we thank our own Jennifer Riley for helping to put a spotlight on the need for increased protections in the hallowed halls. The House passed these protections in their operating rules the following day, and we thank the leaders who made it happen.

Gov. Josh Shapiro gave us the first tiny preview of his budget address, slated for next Tuesday, by unveiling a proposed tax credit for new teachers, police officers and nurses, three professions facing a large workforce deficit. Nothing like some cold, hard cash to motivate ya. Maybe those firefighters wanna get in on that game too? Not a whole lot of people are signing up to run into burning structures these days.

And of course, we learned that there is also quite a workforce development problem for the child-care industry. I guess we simply cannot pay everyone to get jobs in the places we need to fill.

Whatever ends up in Shapiro’s blueprint, he can sleep a little better knowing that state revenue collections are annihilating predictions, coming in 14% above estimate in February and 2.6% for the year. Expect schools to do very well, public safety to do well, and the Corporate Net Income tax to fall even faster. Just spit balling here, but we think that’s a pretty good trifecta bet.

We collectively spend a whole lot of time pointing out everything we do NOT do to combat gun violence, so it is only fair to give the General Assembly some props when things go right. Gun violence intervention programs funded over the last two years are yielding positive results, so yeah, let’s keep doing that.

A state Senate committee voted to subpoena Norfolk Southern executives over the recent East Palestine train derailment. If you can manage to piss off both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, you have reached some rare air.

When President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act in 2017, it contained a provision allowing for the compassionate release of terminally ill prisoners who were otherwise no threat to society. Since that time, judges have denied release in eight out of every 10 cases. Maybe criminal justice reform should also carry with it some judicial reform next time. C’mon, an 80% denial rate screams “we are ignoring the law, and there ain’t a damned thing you can do about it.”

Speaking of judges, two of our own Commonwealth Court justices are battling it out over whether someone needs to have credible proof of election fraud before filing a complaint. We are no judges, but it would seem like a relatively low bar to clear. You can’t accuse your neighbor of stealing your car if there is zero evidence that your neighbor stole your car. Court cases should not be entertained from people with a “cool theory” that came to them when they were eating Cheerios one morning.

Only in America could Congress spend the week absolutely pounding on the national archivist. Ease up, people. This woman doesn’t exactly have the nuclear codes in her desk drawer. And she’s a Steelers fan, so therefore she should never have to dignify questions from anyone from Ohio, for any reason.

On the Triad socials this week, please stop by and congratulate Noah Logan for surviving at Triad for an entire year. Good work, Noah!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we take you to the hinterlands of the northern United States, where a Canadian breed of super pigs are plotting an invasion of the country. The pigs are part wild boar and part domestic pig, have a high IQ, and are coming for you, people. We always knew Canada was up to something.

That’s what passes for news around here, as March rolls in and things start to get fun in your capital city.  Tune in next week, when we will find some old news lying around once again. From everyone at Team Triad, have a great weekend!