August 31 Playbook: Here We Go Again

😀 Thursday, the last day of August. Thanks for reading the PoliticsPA Playbook. We appreciate ya.

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☀️ Warren | Becoming Sunny, 74
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⚾ Phillies (74-59) | LA Angels 8-10 | Fri-Sun vs. Milwaukee
⚾ Pirates (61-73) | Kansas City 4-1 | Fri-Sun vs. St. Louis
⚽ Union (13-4-8) | Toronto 1-3 | Sun vs. NY Red Bulls

What We’re Hearing
“It is imperative that the House return quickly to session to complete the work of the people they represent even if to provide a counteroffer to what has been passed.” – Sen. Kim Ward

Happy Birthday
Cake and candles for Rep. Christina Sappey.

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Top Story

1. Pennsylvania Mulls New Presidential Primary Date, Again

“As Pennsylvania mulls another decision to move its presidential primary away from Passover and April, what would be gained and/or lost with such a change is up for debate.

House Bill 1634 would move the presidential primary from the fourth Tuesday in April to the third Tuesday in March. For 2024, that would mean a shift to March 19, rather than April 23.

The bill’s counterpart in the Senate – Senate Bill 224 – also calls for the same date change. The Senate’s State Government Committee advanced the bill forward to the entire chamber on Wednesday.” (PoliticsPA)


Pennsylvania’s 2024 Primary Falls on Passover and It’s a Battleground State. “Pennsylvania’s law determines that the state’s presidential primary should be held on the fourth Tuesday in April, which in 2024 happens to fall on April 23. Check your calendars, April 23, 2024, is also Nissan 15, 5784, a.k.a. the first day of Passover. It means that observant Jews from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh are not allowed to drive their cars on Tuesday and Wednesday that week and would not be able to vote.” (

PA Is Considering An Earlier Presidential Primary, Partly To Avoid Voting On Passover. “Pennsylvania is considering changing the state’s 2024 presidential primary to an earlier day, although the proposed move may do little to give the state’s voters more say in deciding presidential nominees.” (AP)

New Drug Prices Negotiations Could Help 450K Pennsylvanians, White House Says. “The first-ever price negotiations for drugs taken by Medicare patients could benefit more than 450,000 Pennsylvanians who take medicine to treat ailments from diabetes to kidney disease to cancer, officials said Wednesday.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


2. State Senate Approves Fiscal Code Bill With Lifeline Scholarships

Sens. Kim Ward, Joe Pittman and Scott Martin

“Game on.

By a 28-19 vote, the Pennsylvania Senate approved a fiscal code bill that includes Lifeline Scholarships, referred to as the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Program, and the expansion of Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit.

“The Senate has done their best to give Gov. (Josh) Shapiro and his counterparts in the House the necessary time to work through their party challenges, but the time has come that we must move beyond the broken deals and words and complete our work to ensure the fiscal solvency of our state,” Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward said.” (PoliticsPA)


School Vouchers Are Back Up For Debate In PA. “The GOP-controlled Senate on Wednesday again approved a $100 million initiative — this time in a 28-19 vote — that would allow some students in Pennsylvania’s poorest districts to attend private schools. The move comes less than a month since Gov. Josh Shapiro vetoed the same proposal, one he helped develop.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Massive School Satisfaction Gap Pits Parents Against Everyone Else. “Americans en masse are dissatisfied with the country’s schools. But parents feel pretty good about their own kids’ education. 76% of parents believe their K-12 students are receiving a quality education, according to new data from an annual Gallup survey.” (Axios)

PA Senate Moves On Budget Code Bills, House Dems Say ‘Critical Programs’ Left Out. “The Pennsylvania Senate approved separate fiscal code bills authorizing hundreds of millions in spending within the unsettled 2024 budget, but both proposals present issues for the Democratic-controlled House for what they do and don’t include.” (CNHI News)

Parental Activism And Public Support Level The Playing Field As Government Unions Block Lifelines To Students In Failing Schools. “When government union leaders sent a letter to elected officials urging them to oppose scholarships for low-income students, they left out that part about declining test scores. ” (Broad + Liberty)

Barrow Confirmed to PUC; DeFrank Named Chair. “The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously voted to confirm Governor Josh Shapiro’s appointment of Kimberly Barrow, Esq. to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC).” (PoliticsPA)

Ethically Challenged? Or Serving Constituents? “The state ethics code also requires every public official to disclose gifts valued at more than $250 and travel reimbursements of more than $650 in an annual statement of financial interest document. While the reports allow the public to know about these gifts, disclosure doesn’t have to be specific, meaning key details are sometimes, well, harder to find.” (PoliticsPA)

PA Bill Would Limit Businesses From Refusing Cash. “A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to ensure shoppers can still use cash to purchase items as many businesses seek to go cash-free.” (abc27)

Around The Commonwealth

3. ‘If We’re Not At The Table, We’re On The Menu’

Democrats narrow the field in the Lehigh County commissioner race |

“A panel discussion put on by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce featured a lively discussion, and a prevailing message: get involved in politics.

The panel put on by the Chamber of Commerce’s African American Business Leaders Council was part two of a three-part series called “Black Wall Street.” (


Rockey Hits Airwaves With First Ad For Allegheny County Executive. “Joe Rockey, the Republican candidate for Allegheny County Executive, has released his first 30-second TV spot introducing himself to voters and outlining his focus on public safety, jobs and commonsense leadership.” (PoliticsPA)

City of Chester Hit With $860,000 Bill For Missed IRS Payments. ““Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” said Philadephia’s favorite son, Benjamin Franklin, and the City of Chester just got a reminder that he was right.” (DV Journal)

Scranton to NYC Train A ‘Once-In-A-Generation’ Opportunity, Leaders Tell State House Members. “If passenger train service between Scranton and New York City ever has a chance of happening, the time is now.” (Scranton Times-Tribune)

Commonwealth Court Tosses Suspended Somerset DA’s Salary Appeal Over Unpaid Filing Fee. “Suspended Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Thomas’ appeal in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania over his salary has been dismissed.” (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat)

Municipalities Say Pennsylvania Court Ruling On Stormwater Fees Could Drain Them Financially. “Millions of dollars that help local governments manage stormwater runoff are at stake as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considers a lower court’s decision that a state-owned university was not required to pay because of its tax-exempt status, a decision that also raises questions about whether the charges are even legal.” (AP)

Somerset County President Judge To Retire On Oct. 31. “D. Gregory Geary is stepping down two years before his term expires and a decade earlier than peers often take the step – but he said he made up his mind eight years ago that he wouldn’t put his family through another social media-driven, “increasingly negative” election cycle.” (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat)

Fayette Election Board Certifies Primary Results In Republican Commissioner Race. “The results of the Republican race for Fayette County commissioner were certified on Wednesday, paving the way for the county to prepare ballots for the November election.” (Observer-Reporter)


4. What They’re Saying

1 Thing

5. Hurry Up and Wait

PennDOT To Undertake Major I-76 Traffic Improvment Plan | Radnor, PA Patch

“The Thursday before Labor Day — that’s, um, today — is projected to be the busiest time on the road this holiday weekend.

Today between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. is projected to be the craziest time, according to INRIX, a transportation-data provider.

😎 The times with the least traffic will be Sunday all day — and Monday after 7 p.m.” (Axios)

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