June 9, 2023

That flapping noise we’re hearing today is the sound of chickens coming home to roost. It appears that former President Donald Trump has been/is being indicted on criminal counts related to the mishandling of classified documents. Details are trickling out, but suffice it to say that the Washington press corps is salivating more profusely than an entire pack of Pavlov’s dogs. Trump has professed his innocence.

Residents of the eastern seaboard welcomed a modicum of relief today from the smoky haze caused by Canadian wildfires. Air quality in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and points in between was “less bad” than the previous couple of days. While fire has always been a natural part of the Canadian ecosystem, experts say that this year’s wildfires are unprecedented. Experts say the haze may be with us for a while.

While Ukraine has yet to confirm it, Russians say that the long-awaited spring offensive has begun. Follow this link for updates.

The field for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination stood at nine this afternoon as Chris Christie, Mike Pence and Doug Burgum (governor of North Dakota, if you haven’t heard) joined in the festivities earlier this week. Click here for a quick recap of the entire GOP field.

The surprise of the week goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that Alabama’s Republican-dominated legislature had drawn its seven congressional districts to illegally limit Black voters’ influence to a single House seat. The 5-4 decision consisted of a coalition of conservative and liberal justices and was written by Chief Justice John Roberts.

In Pennsylvania, the Senate Transportation Committee approved a bill eliminating the alternative fuel tax on electric vehicles and replacing it with a $290 annual flat fee for noncommercial EV drivers. Lawmakers want to see that EV drivers contribute to the upkeep of the bridge and highway system. Currently, EVs avoid the gasoline and diesel taxes that pay for construction and maintenance.

Our friends at the Turnpike plan to remove the paper towel dispensers from the service plazas, as part of a plan to make the toll road the country’s first environmentally sustainable super highway. For those who, like us, have stubbornly avoided automatic hand dryers whenever possible, we pass along these three easy steps for best results: 1) Place hands under the dryer, 2) rub hands vigorously for several minutes, 3) wipe hands on pants.

Cindy Adams Dunn and Reggie McNeil were confirmed as secretaries of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of General Services, respectively. Dunn has served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since 2015. McNeil most recently served as chief operating officer of the Philadelphia school district.

Nearly a year after Pennsylvania set aside $100 million in pandemic-era federal aid to stem a mental health crisis and reinforce its treatment resources, the state House approved a plan on Wednesday to spend it. House Bill 849 passed with a bipartisan 173-30 vote.

Sandy Township is seeking to pause its voter-approved consolidation with the City of DuBois as a result of corruption allegations against the city’s suspended manager and alarming financial oversight issues. The consolidation was approved by DuBois and Sandy Township voters in a 2021 referendum — by a razor-thin margin of 1% among township electors — after three failed attempts in previous decades.

House Democrats passed a $46.4 billion spending plan for 2024-25 – even higher than proposed by Gov. Josh Shapiro. The plan foresees no increases in the state’s two main revenue streams – income or sales taxes – and most of the new money in it would go to education, health care and social services. Next comes review by the GOP-controlled Senate.

From a district attorney’s last stand to a looming battle for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the trends, storylines and national narratives are already beginning to write themselves. For a preview of what to watch out for over the next six months, look no further.

Our friend Jason Tigano, executive director of LEVEL: Equity Buildings, will participate in a panel discussion June 28 about the human cost of unaffordable housing in conjunction with United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. For more info, follow this link.

Our Shameless Client Plug this week goes out to Kennywood’s HR director, Joe Barron, who is retiring after 51 years. Happy trails, sir!

In our We Can’t Make This Up segment, we give you Apple, which made a significant contribution to the betterment of civilization this week, announcing that a popular potty-mouth cussword will no longer show up in texts and emails as “duck” or “ducking.” Kudos to Apple for freeing innocent waterfowl from their unfortunate association with an obscenity.

And check the Triad social channels to congratulate our own Jen Riley who was named to the Central Penn Business Journal’s 2023 lobbyist power list! Congratulations to our navigator and to all of this year’s honorees!

And that’s what passes for news this week, as we duck out for the weekend. Y’all have a good one, and we’ll chat again next week!