Energy - June 13, 2014

Play Calling in the PA General Assembly: Third and Long

As the clock ticks down to the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the legislature faces big ticket items like liquor privatization, pension reform, and a $1.2 billion budget hole. In this “third and long” situation one might expect some kind of long pass play or a pitch-out to your most talented runner. Instead, the legislative leaders got up to the line of scrimmage this week -  and called for a time out.

After two days of caucus discussions on pension reform, the House could not muster the votes to bring the Kampf/Tobash package to the floor. Similarly, in the Senate, the latest trimmed-down version of liquor privatization got some movement in committee then was buried by opponents who piled on like linebackers.

In an apparent effort to move the ball forward on pension reform and the budget, the Governor signaled his willingness to consider some tax increase (read: Marcellus Shale extraction tax) if the legislature passes some version of pension reform.

With just days left before the budget deadline and 11 days scheduled for the fall session, the legislature has much to do and little time to do it.

One wonders why they didn’t call better plays in the first half…

Wolf backs McGinty to head Democratic State Committee, Burns will challenge

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has endorsed Katie McGinty as candidate for chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and state Representative Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, as candidate for vice chair.  The state committee meets June 21 in Camp Hill to choose a new chair and in a strange twist of events, current chairman Jim Burn has said he's not backing down from his post.  Burn has held the position for the last four years and has said that while he'll accept whatever decision is made, the party "has prospered" under him and "is highly regarded in national political circles." Burn feels that the party is running well and there is no reason to change things now.  Burn became chairman in 2010 after then Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato ultimately ended up not backing any candidate and several other candidates dropped out of the running. 

Wolf has said that Burn has done "great work...building the party and electing Democrats" and has promised he'd still involve Burn in the future but went on to say that "Katie and Jake are the people who I want by my side, fighting for our values and enthusiastically defending the Pennsylvania Democratic Party."  Burn has said that he does admire Wolf and will still work hard to get him elected but felt it was important to offer the party the choice of who will lead them "rather than bow to the top-down leadership."