First Read

First Read – April 29, 2024

Gaza protests in the commonwealth … Government controlled cannabis … low turnout primary analysis … and more

WEATHER: Philadelphia: mostly sunny, high of 88; Harrisburg: sunny, high of 89; Pittsburgh: sunny, high of 88. 


* We know what they say about keeping all your eggs in one basket. Luckily for Pennsylvania’s diverse agricultural economy, commonwealth farmers have nothing to worry about. 

* From the state’s top auditor to the U.S. presidency, we took a look at five statewide races worth watching this fall.


* Location, reputation, demographics and pure luck may have mattered more than policy differences in Pennsylvania’s row office primary elections last week, Spotlight PA reports.

* In an otherwise quiet election, there was one surprise last Tuesday: the outcome of the Democratic primary for state treasurer, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

* The Republican candidates for statewide office embarked on a two-day statewide bus tour following last Tuesday’s primary, making six stops across the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports.

* Public health experts testified last week at a state House hearing, saying that confining legal cannabis sales to state-operated stores would help crackdown on unlicensed dispensaries, the Capital-Star reports.

* The withdrawal of an arrest warrant earlier this week for state Rep. Kevin Boyle has not changed the resolve of Republican lawmakers to stop his vote from being counted while he is absent from the House chamber, the Capital-Star reports.

* Dickinson College students want their counterparts at Columbia University, University of Southern California and other schools where students are getting arrested for protesting the Israel-Hamas War that they stand with them and support them, PennLive reports.

* We may never know all of the names Pennsylvania voters jotted down statewide, but it’s reasonable to assume many were prompted by an effort to have voters write “uncommitted” as a means of signaling dissatisfaction with Biden’s support for Israel, WESA reports.

* The political divide over the war in Gaza was starkly evident in Philadelphia as local officials spoke out about student demonstrations at University of Pennsylvania and other local campuses, the Inquirer reports.

* U.S. Sen. Bob Casey proposed a series of debates with his Republican challenger David McCormick leading up to the November general election, and McCormick readily accepted, WESA reports. 

* Philly Mayor Cherelle Parker took her first budget proposal on the road Saturday, opening a series of town hall events to tout her spending plan and introduce her administration to the city, the Inquirer reports.


* The Inquirer’s Will Bunch writes that as a new generation of young people speaks out against attacks on women and children halfway around the world, this time in Gaza, college administrators from Boston to L.A. are racing to call in heavily armored riot cops to shut down protest encampments.

* LancasterOnline writes that a public records request filed by the Watchdog raises questions about how Lancaster County Sheriff Chris Leppler paid for the new reception area in the sheriff’s county courthouse office and the sheriff-branded swag that’s for sale there.


* President Joe Biden is out to win votes by scoring some laughs at the expense of Donald Trump, unleashing mockery with the goal of getting under the former president’s thin skin and reminding the country of his blunders, the Associated Press reports.

* Former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met privately yesterday morning in Miami, according to people familiar with the matter, The Washington Post reports.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: to Jayne Sebright, executive director, The Center for Dairy Excellence… and to Sam Gorodetzer, account executive at Ceisler Media and Issue Advocacy … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email their name, job title and upcoming birthday to


9:30 a.m. – House Tourism & Economic & Recreational Development Committee meets, Room G50 Irvis Office, state Capitol, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – Senate Education Committee meets, Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – House Education Committee meets, Room 523, Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – House Human Services Committee meets, Room 515, Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – House Judiciary Committee meets, Room 140, state Capitol, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – House Local Government Committee meets, Room 60, East Wing, state Capitol, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – House State Government Committee meets, Room 205, Ryan Office Building, Harrisburg. Watch here. 

10 a.m. – The Philadelphia City Council Committee on Rules meets, Room 400, City Hall, Philadelphia. Watch here. 

11 a.m. – Press conference for community college students and employees to lobby for more state funding, Main Rotunda, state Capitol, Harrisburg. 

1 p.m. – Rally to raise awareness about giving second chances for those serving Death by Incarceration Sentences in PA, Fountain Plaza, state Capitol, Harrisburg. 

1 p.m. – The Philadelphia City Council Committee of the Whole meets, Room 400, City Hall, Philadelphia. Watch here. 

1:30 p.m. – The Pittsburgh City Council Committee on Hearings and Policy meets, Council Chambers, City-County Building, Pittsburgh. Watch here. 

 2 p.m. – PA Office of Victim Advocate, PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence, PA Coalition to Advance Respect and others hold a press conference to highlight the governor's proposed investment for the Victim's Compensation Assistance Program in the 2024-25 budget, East Wing Rotunda, state Capitol, Harrisburg. 

At the Call of the Chair – House Appropriations, Senate Appropriations, Senate Rules & Executive Nominations Committees meet

KICKER: “The facts are clear that Rep. Boyle needs help and while he is receiving that help he should not be casting a vote in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.” – House GOP spokesman Jason Gottesman via the Capital-Star  

NEXT STORY: First Read – April 25, 2024