WEATHER: Philadelphia: a chance of thunderstorms, high of 81; Harrisburg: severe thunderstorms, high of 77; Pittsburgh: rain, high of 70.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* Pennsylvania politicians responded with praise and criticism after President Joe Biden delivered an address on his administration’s first 100 days and its response to coronavirus, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports.
* Pennsylvania began widening its COVID-19 vaccine distribution network this week to include more doctors, small pharmacies and others as part of its effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy among residents, The Associated Press reports.
* Former Pennsylvania House candidate Kolbe Cole has with her election campaign team established Voices, a PAC dedicated to supporting young, progressive candidates, the Beaver County Times reports.
* Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse is calling for a guaranteed income program to help the city’s poorest residents to attack intergenerational poverty, funded by incoming federal stimulus money, PennLive reports.
* Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano and Republican Judge Paula Patrick, who is running for state Supreme Court, are both listed as speakers at a June conference hosted by a conspiratorial podcast where QAnon theories are frequently discussed, the Capital-Star reports.
* The board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education voted Wednesday to advance a plan to merge six of its 14 universities into two new institutions, as the system struggles with sinking enrollment and stagnant state aid, the AP reports.
* Bucks County will offer voters three ballot drop boxes for mail-in voters during the May primary, but some advocates say many more boxes are needed, the Bucks County Courier Times reports.
* The impending loss of one of Pennsylvania’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will lead to a game of “musical chairs” among legislators, but won’t diminish the state’s status as a political battleground in 2022, The Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reports.
* U.S. Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelly got “F” grades on a democracy report card issued by a conservative group for objecting to the 2020 presidential election results, WTAE Pittsburgh reports.
* NBC Philadelphia has a guide to choosing how to vote on the ballot questions voters will see during the May primary.
* Philadelphia City Council Member Cherelle L. Parker writes in an op-ed for the Inquirer that the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office’s shift to online auctions of delinquent properties rigs the system against Philadelphians.
* John Baer writes in his column for PennLive that the push for statehood for Washington, D.C., is a sign of current partisan divide.
* The Citizens’ Voice writes that national census deadlines should be delayed to account for the effects of coronavirus.
* The Inquirer has an op-ed arguing that Pennsylvania’s redistricting of congressional district maps will not be fair if they are not drawn with racial equity as a guiding principle.
* Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner makes the case for his reelection and criticizes his Democratic challenger Carlos Vega in an op-ed for The Philadelphia Citizen.
* The Inquirer writes that statehood for Washington, D.C., would be a win for democracy and for Philadelphia.
* The Allentown Morning Call has an op-ed on how to vote on four ballot questions on the May primary, including two on a proposed constitutional amendment to limit the governor’s power to declare emergencies for longer than 21 days.
* President Joe Biden laid out an ambitious agenda to rewrite the American social compact by vastly expanding family leave, child care, health care, preschool and college education for millions of people to be financed with increased taxes on the wealthiest earners, The New York Times reports.
* A federal grand jury indicted three white men on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man whose fatal shooting last year in coastal Georgia sparked a national outcry, The Washington Post reports.
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10 a.m. – The state Senate Appropriations and Education committees hold a joint hearing on state universities’ plan to consolidate six universities into two institutions, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Harrisburg.
10 a.m. – The Philadelphia City Council meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Philadelphia.
10 a.m. – Wolf administration officials outline how COVID-19 is impacting people suffering with substance and opioid use disorders in a virtual media briefing.
11 a.m. – Pennsylvania Department of Human Services acting Secretary Meg Snead and Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance President and CEO Angela Liddle hold a press call to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month and encourage Pennsylvanians to report suspected child abuse or neglect to ChildLine.
1 p.m. – Department Human Services Senior Adviser Teresa Miller and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation hold a press call to discuss support for long-term care facilities throughout the pandemic as well as vaccination data for residents and staff of personal care homes and assisted living residences.
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KICKER: “You would think, one vote, nah, probably not a major significance. And I would agree with that. But, over time, if you continue to lose seats, it just reduces your clout in the Congress.” – G. Terry Madonna, senior fellow in residence for political affairs at Millersville University, via The Tribune-Democrat