December 13: The Bridge Builder


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🏀 Sixers (15-7) | Wed vs. Detroit
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What’s Happening
Both chambers of the General Assembly convene at 11 a.m.

What We’re Hearing
The Cook Political Report is shifting PA-10 from Likely R to Lean R.

Happy Birthday
Cake and candles for Rep. Jessica Benham, Rep. Maureen Madden and Rep. Abby Major.

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Top Story

1. Shapiro Rebuilt A Bridge, Weathered A Messy Budget, And Walked Fine Partisan Lines In 2023

Gov. Shapiro in Bucks County

“In his first year as Pennsylvania’s governor, Josh Shapiro won praise as a literal bridge builder, signed a state spending plan that included long-sought Democratic priorities, and helped expand a relief program for older homeowners.

The Democrat, a former state lawmaker who touts himself as a dealmaker, has nonetheless struggled at times to advance priorities through Harrisburg’s ideologically divided legislature. His record will depend on how well he can find middle ground, and he will be watched not just here in Pennsylvania but in national political circles as well.” (Spotlight PA)


Gov. Shapiro’s Condemnation Of Liz Magill Raised His National Profile (Again). “If any single politician’s voice led to the University of Pennsylvania president’s resignation Saturday, it was Gov. Josh Shapiro’s.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Voter Registration Applications Are Up 65% Since PA Started Automatic Registration At PennDOT Centers. “The state’s top elections official said Pennsylvania has seen a “pretty significant increase” of about 65% in voter registration applications since Gov. Josh Shapiro’s implementation of automatic voter registration at PennDOT centers in September.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Hill’s Changemakers: Sen. John Fetterman. “Sen. John Fetterman has faced health struggles publicly since before he even took office, and now his openness about his depression has altered how Capitol Hill is approaching mental health concerns.  ” (The Hill)

PA-11: Smucker Announces Reelection Bid. “Rep. Lloyd Smucker has announced that he is running for another term for the U.S. Congress. Smucker, who represents the 11th Congressional District, is in his fourth term serving constituents in Lancaster and York counties.” (PoliticsPA)


2. PA-10: Daniels Uses Artificial Intelligence to Talk to Voters

Shamaine Daniels

“Everyone is talking about AI – artificial intelligence – these days. And now AI is talking back.

In a first-in-the-country effort, Pennsylvania congressional candidate Shamaine Daniels is utilizing the power of AI to reach out to Democratic voters in the state’s 10th Congressional District.

A Harrisburg city councilwoman, Daniels is not eschewing standard campaign strategies like digital advertising, direct mail and door-to-door campaigning. Rather, she has opted to see if AI can assist her in reaching voters with her message.” (PoliticsPA)


PA Lawmakers Grapple With Hate Speech In Education. “State lawmakers from both parties are tackling hate speech in schools but in different ways.” (WITF)

Expansion of PA Permits To Grow, Sell Medical Marijuana Headed To Governor’s Desk. “A bill that will allow more of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana growers and processors to also act as retailers — and vice-versa — fully cleared the legislature on Tuesday and will head to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s desk.” (PennLive)

PA Lawmaker Takes Aim At Combating Hate Speech On College Campuses. “Disturbing accounts of racism experienced by students attending Pennsylvania’s state universities — from being called a racial slur to a video showing the lynching of a Black student’s teddy bear — has sparked a state senator to call for action to combat hate speech on college campuses.” (PennLive)

PA Manufacturers: Extreme Solar Power Mandate Would Mean Higher Rates, Potential Blackouts. “The Pennsylvania Manufacturers Associations (PMA) asked a state House committee to reject a bill it says could destabilize the state’s power grid and endanger access to reliable electricity. And in a political twist, it also argued that the bill, pushed by progressive green activists, could also endanger the environment.” (DV Journal)

Four-Term GOP Lawmaker To Seek Re-Election To PA House Seat. “State Rep. Tom Mehaffie announced on Tuesday he intends to seek re-election to the 106th House district seat that he has held since 2016.” (PennLive)

Around The Commonwealth

3. Pennsylvania’s Loss Of County Election Officials Raises Concerns About Errors

Al Schmidt

“A post-election evaluation by the Senate State Government Committee was amiable between Republican senators and the Secretary of the Commonwealth with mutual concern over human error, but some divides remain.

The (State) department has focused on reducing human errors, hiring a chief training officer with a three-person staff to offer training to county election administrators, Secretary Al Schmidt said, as well as redesigning ballot envelopes to standardize them and make voter error less likely, such as failing to sign and date the ballot envelope.” (The Center Square)


Pittsburgh City Council Eyes A Pay Increase For Members. “City Council is considering giving itself a raise after more than a decade without cost of living increases while Pittsburgh’s budget was under state supervision.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Completely New Montco Board Of Commissioners Set To Take Office. “The swearing-in for incumbent Democrat Jamila Winder, as well as Neil Makhija, and Thomas DiBello, will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 11 a.m.” (Norristown Patch)

Some Local Election Results Offer A Path Forward For Suburban Republicans. “The results of school board races across the collar counties for Republican candidates were abysmal and in some instances, unexpectedly so. Districts and regions that were Republican strongholds not long ago have transformed into Democratic fortresses, as the November results reveal.” (Broad + Liberty)

Against Urging Of Allentown Mayor, City Council Again Passes 2024 Budget With No Tax Increase. “Mayor Matt Tuerk said he would not veto council’s budget for a second time, but that he was “disappointed” in the vote. He vetoed the budget council passed last month that also had no tax increase.” (Morning Call)

A Day To Celebrate: New Castle Exits Act 47 Distressed Status. “After 6,184 days, the City of New Castle is out of Act 47 distressed status.” (New Castle News)


4. What They’re Saying

  • Donors Should Not Decide Campus Policies Or Determine What Is Taught. (Scott L. Bok)
  • Pennsylvania House Lawmakers Plan An Extended Winter Hiatus — They Ought To Stay, Stay, Stay (In Session). (LNP)
  • Gov. Shapiro Wants Unilateral Power To Commit The State To Climate Agreements. (Nathan Benefield)
  • Red States and Blue States Are Becoming Different Countries. (Jamelle Bouie)
  • The Inquirer Gets It Wrong On Gaza. (Paul Snitzer)
  • The Continued Hypocrisy Of So-Called Family Values Conservatives. (Elwood Watson)
1 Thing

5. The Downsized Holiday Party

54 Fun & Festive Corporate Holiday Party Ideas in 2023 | Roaming Hunger

“Last year, companies pulled out the stops and partied in December. This year’s holiday parties are more likely to involve Santa cookies in the breakroom.

Gone are many of the hotel-ballroom celebrations, the roast-beef carving stations and the DJs. Some firms that used to fly in comedians or other talent to entertain the troops at opulent dinner parties are opting for low-key office potlucks, in part, because employees have said they won’t show up to anything outside of work hours.

Doug Quattrini, an event planner in the Philadelphia area, says the work parties he has booked this year have tended to be smaller in scale and take place at an executive’s home. It is an indicator of either reduced staff or a more exclusive invite list, he adds.” (WSJ)

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By: Steve Ulrich
Title: December 13: The Bridge Builder
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2023 13:11:15 +0000

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I'm a writer for lifestyle publications, and when I'm not crafting stories, you'll find me cherishing moments with my family, including my lovely daughter. My heart also belongs to my pets—Sushi, Snowy, Belle, and Pepper. Besides writing, I enjoy watching movies and exploring new places through travel.