First Read

First Read – Feb. 13, 2024

Shapiro accepts “event tickets and catering” from lobbyist firm … Legislators unite against a hydroelectric dam proposal … Lehigh County Moms for Liberty might be back … and more

WEATHER: Philadelphia: wintry mix and breezy, high of 41; Harrisburg: rain and snow, then chance of showers, high of 38; Pittsburgh: chance of snow then chance of rain/snow, high of 38. 


* The race for attorney general in the commonwealth continues to gain and drop new candidates and endorsements. You can find City & State’s running list of candidates and endorsements in the AG race here.


* Gov. Josh Shapiro accepted $1,650 worth of “event tickets and catering” from a powerful Harrisburg lobbyist last year, a perk his campaign insists was a political contribution, Spotlight PA reports.

* A year after taking the first steps to end Pennsylvania’s “shameful distinction” as one of only two states that did not pay for public defenders, Shapiro and state lawmakers said yesterday they would negotiate to make more money available for indigent defense, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports.  

* York and Lancaster legislators united yesterday to oppose a $2.3 billion Cuffs Run hydroelectric project on the Susquehanna River, which was provisionally accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this month, the York Dispatch reports.

* State Sen. Gene Yaw has filed legislation to repeal the multi-state compact Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon tax. According to Yaw, RGGI would increase consumer electricity rates, the Delaware Valley Journal reports.

* During Philadelphia City Council’s first session, developer Mohamed “Mo” Rushdy greeted a parade of politicians, staffers and lobbyists, the new head of the Building Industry Association enjoying a rapid rise in politics, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

* The Lehigh County chapter of Moms for Liberty is likely to continue its operations after all, following a report last week that the group was disbanding. A new person has stepped up and been approved as chair, The Morning Call reports.

* Shapiro unveiled a $48 billion state budget plan last week, but officials from counties say it fell short on one of their top priorities: a key funding source for counties to provide mental health services, WESA reports.

* Sean Dougherty, son of State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and nephew of former labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, is collecting petitions to run in the Democratic primary to replace state Rep. Kevin Boyle, the Inquirer reports.

* In a split vote that ran contrary to the recommendations of the Planning Commission, the Logan Township supervisors this week denied a resident’s request to rezone 266 acres in Coburn from agricultural to industrial, the Altoona Mirror reports. 

* Americans for Prosperity Action, the conservative super PAC backed by the Koch organization, has endorsed Republican Rob Bresnahan in his campaign against U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, the Capital-Star reports. 


* The Tribune Review writes that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will have to rebuild trust with President Joe Biden after he did not notify the White House when he was hospitalized at the beginning of January. 

* Broad + Liberty has an op-ed by state Rep. Seth Grove, who writes that when Shapiro delivered his second Budget Address, he sought to admonish the Republicans in the General Assembly for insisting on maintaining a General Fund surplus and robust Rainy Day Fund. 


* Former President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court yesterday to block a lower court’s ruling that he is not immune from criminal charges stemming from his bid to subvert the 2020 election, Politico reports. 

* Biden yesterday launched a task force to address the “systemic” problem of mishandling classified information during presidential transitions, days after a Justice Department special counsel’s report said he had done just that, the Associated Press reports.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To state Sen. Steve SantarsieroWant to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email their name, job title and upcoming birthday to

MOVING ON: Philly’s Center City District announced Clint Randall as their new vice president of economic development … Have a career change or life event to announce? Email us:


10 a.m. – Joint House and Senate Center for Rural Pennsylvania Committee meets, Schuylkill Intermediate Unit 29, Rm 2402, 17 Maple Ave. Pottsville. 

10 a.m. – House Democratic Policy Committee meets, Room G50, Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg. 

10 a.m. – Pittsburgh City Council meets, 510 City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Pittsburgh. Watch here. 

KICKER: “(Shapiro) would welcome the legislature sending a bill to his desk establishing a uniform gift policy for the Administration and the Legislature so that everyone must follow the same rules and operate under the high levels of transparency the Governor follows.” – Shapiro campaign spokesperson Manuel Bonder via Spotlight PA

NEXT STORY: First Read – Feb. 12, 2024