December 21: Welcome, Winter

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⛄ Hello, Thursday. The winter solstice — winter’s official opening day — arrives tonight. This is the year’s shortest day, and longest night, in the northern half of the globe.

PA Weather
☁ Philipsburg | Mostly Cloudy, 37
🌥 Waynesboro | Partly Sunny, 42
🌥 New Milford | Decreasing Clouds, 34

PA Sports
🏀 Sixers (19-8) | Minnesota 127-113 | Fri vs. Toronto
🏒 Flyers (18-10-3) | Thu vs. Nashville
🏒 Penguins (14-13-3) | Thu vs. Carolina

What We’re Hearing
“We are a nation of laws, not of men, and it is the Constitution of the United States that is providing the avenue for the disqualification of the former president. This is not politics. This is the opposite of politics. This is constitutional law.” – J. Michael Luttig

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Top Story

1. Supreme Court Seems Destined To Play Pivotal Role In 2024 Elections

All eyes on ethics as Supreme Court justices return to Washington | The Hill

“The Supreme Court will be pressed to answer multiple questions crucial to next year’s presidential election, thrust into a pivotal role not seen since its 2000 decision that sealed the victory for President George W. Bush.

Bush v. Gore split the nation and left lasting scars. But the legal battles being waged in courtrooms across the nation involving former President Donald Trump and his bid to regain the presidency are more numerous, more complicated and could prove even more divisive in a polarized nation.” (Washington Post)


Colorado’s Supreme Court Disqualified Trump From The Primary Ballot. Could A Similar Ruling Come Down In PA? “The Colorado ruling could now pave the way for someone else to try and make a real challenge to Trump in other states, including Pennsylvania.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

‘The Opposite of Politics’: A Conservative Legal Scholar Says Kicking Trump Off the Ballot Is ‘Unassailable’. “J. Michael Luttig explains why he thinks the 14th Amendment should prevent Trump from running for president again.” (POLITICO)

Top PA Lawmakers Want To Block The Sale Of U.S. Steel — But There’s Not Much They Can Do. “There is not much Congress can really do to block the deal, congressional experts said. Lawmakers can speak out against it and possibly introduce legislation or add provisions to spending bills, but their options are limited.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Does the U.S. Steel Sale Offer Hope For Pennsylvania Workers? “Nippon Steel’s purchase of the industry giant represents a major inflection point for the industry in the Keystone State.” (Broad + Liberty)

Fetterman, Breaking With the Left On Israel, Rejects ‘Progressive’ Label. “The Pennsylvania senator, who has angered liberal Democrats with his staunchly pro-Israel stance and position on immigration, assailed the left and said he no longer considers himself a progressive.” (New York Times)



2. Is Pennsylvania On Pace to Lose Another Congressional Seat in 2030?

Pennsylvania - The American Redistricting Project

“The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates on Tuesday, showing that Pennsylvania continues to shrink with the Keystone State losing 10,400 people.

The ramifications of that loss may not seem like much at the end of 2023, but fast-forwarding to 2030 and the Commonwealth may be contracting from 17 to 16 congressional seats.” (PoliticsPA)


House GOP Leader Tells Penn How It Can Address Antisemitism Concerns To Get Blocked Funding For Vet School. “Pennsylvania House Republicans announced Wednesday that they would form a task force to address concerns about antisemitism at the University of Pennsylvania, and suggested lawmakers would continue to block state funding for the university’s veterinary school until its leaders meet specific demands.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

HD-140: Prokopiak Earns Democratic Nomination For Special Election. “Levittown attorney and Pennsbury School Board member Jim Prokopiak has secured the Democratic Party nomination for the 140th Legislative District special election on February 13.” (PoliticsPA)

PA State Government Job Openings Being Filled Quicker With Streamlined Hiring Process. “The faster timeline is due to limiting the posting time of job vacancies to a maximum of five days, streamlining the interview process, and making it easier to extend job offers to candidates on the spot.” (PennLive)

Pennsylvania Expands Its Child Care Tax Credit. “An expansion of Pennsylvania’s child care tax credit signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro after passing the Legislature last week will increase the amount families with children in child care can receive. The expansion allows individuals to claim 100% of the federal child care tax credit they claimed.” (Penn Capital-Star)


Around The Commonwealth

3. PA Voters Play Little Role In Choosing Who Fills Vacant Municipal Offices

Contact Information - Cranberry Township

“Voters participate in local elections to pick who they want to represent them in government, but when a seat on a municipal governing board is vacant in Pennsylvania, the public has little to no say in who fills it — a situation that’s played out at least 28 times from 2020 to 2022 in Centre County.

When an elected municipal official leaves office before their term is up, their remaining colleagues can appoint a new member for the rest of the term, according to Pennsylvania law. But unlike special elections that deal with vacancies in the state legislature, state law provides little guidance on what the process should look like, and public input is not required.” (Spotlight PA)


Shapiro Speaks to WTAJ On First Year, Future Challenges. “Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro joined WTAJ’s Jordan Tracy for a live interview at noon on Wednesday. He talked about his first year as governor, what he accomplished and what challenges he expects to face in the new year.” (WTAJ)

An Update On The Student Loan Interest Deduction Proposal. “A proposed deduction on income taxes for student loan interest recently moved one step forward in Pennsylvania. The bill was amended to clarify language and cap the interest claimed at $2,500. The deduction mirrors the credit provided at the federal level.” (The Center Square)

Westmoreland Commissioners Expected To Pass 32.5% Tax Hike. “Westmoreland commissioners are expected to implement the largest county property tax increase in more than two decades when they meet Thursday morning to approve the 2024 operating budget.” (Tribune-Review)



4. What They’re Saying

  • Why Penn’s Sudden Defense Of Free Speech Feels Disingenuous. (Jennifer Stefano)
  • The Naughty & Nice Of 2023 Politics: Coal In Lots Of Stockings. (John Baer)
  • How Could The Supreme Court Respond to Colorado? (David Firestone and Jesse Wegman)
  • American Democracy Is Cracking. These Ideas Could Help Repair It. (Dan Balz)
  • The Media Is All Wrong About Biden’s Poor Polling. (Jack Shafer)
  • School Choice Expands in a Purple State. (Colleen Hroncich and Sharon Sedlar)
  • The Hospital That Stole Christmas. (Stacy Garrity)
  • Cover the Republican Primary! (Ben Smith)


1 Thing

5. Oh, Christmas Tree!

What's Better, Real or Fake Christmas Trees? – Taft Tribune

“Next to those stockings hung by the chimney with care, it appears more likely than ever that the trimmed tree will be, well, faux.

The holiday tradition of setting up a Christmas tree has endured centuries. But this year, 77% of Americans displaying a Christmas tree say they’ll opt for an artificial one, according to a survey from the American Christmas Tree Association, an industry promotion group.

The shift to fake trees has been a steady one. Imports of artificial trees have been climbing since the mid-90s, and spiked in 2021 despite Covid-19-related supply chain issues, according to the Census Bureau, which started tracking tree imports in 1994.”


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By: Steve Ulrich
Title: December 21: Welcome, Winter
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2023 13:13:55 +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.