WEATHER: Philadelphia: partly cloudy/windy, high of 41; Harrisburg: partly cloudy/windy, high of 38; Pittsburgh: cloudy/windy, high of 31.

NEW THIS MORNING:

* The Pennsylvania legislature is attempting to shield records showing why it spends some of the roughly $360 million in taxpayer money it receives each year, citing an obscure protection it claims gives lawmakers immunity from total transparency, Spotlight PA reports.

* With the news that a former hospital in South Philadelphia will soon host the nation’s first supervised injection site, it is now at the center of an all-out battle between angry neighbors, optimistic public health advocates, city officials and the federal government, the Inquirer reports.

* Some Delaware County residents this week received what looked like official forms for this year’s U.S. census — almost a month early. But the surveys are cleverly designed fakes, officials in the suburban county warned, and the latest in a series of documents the Republican National Committee is spreading across Southeastern Pennsylvania to glean information ahead of a contentious election, the Inquirer reports.

* The incumbent powers of Philadelphia’s teachers’ union survived a challenge Wednesday from a group that advocated for a more open and aggressive approach to contract bargaining, WHYY reports.

* Pennsylvania’s health department is preparing for the expected arrival of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. The respiratory virus – marked by fever, cough, and shortness of breath – has already sickened 81,000 people and killed 2,700 people worldwide, WITF reports.

* Officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation told a House panel this week that they’re studying a congestion fee as a solution to the state’s constant search for cash to fund highway and public transit investment, the Capital-Star reports.

* Only a fraction of Pa. residents have a Real ID, but PennDOT says that’s OK – people will still be able to use other forms of identification after REAL ID requirements take effect, WITF reports.

* Pennsylvania’s top human services official has defended her request to grant $3 million in state funding to the reproductive health organization Planned Parenthood, stressing that none of the money would be used to subsidize or provide abortions, the Capital-Star reports.

* Philadelphia’s court administration, the First Judicial District, has already agreed to major changes in how it handles bail hearings, in response to a lawsuit filed with the state Supreme Court last year on behalf of the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund and a group of defendants who could not afford their bail. Now a second lawsuit – this one filed in federal court by another local bail fund, the Philadelphia Bail Fund – will require one more change: The court will have to begin transcribing or recording those hearings, known as preliminary arraignments, or else allow the public to make their own audio recordings, the Inquirer reports.

****************

The Public Record & Sid Booker invite you to 

Meet the Candidates!

Join the Philadelphia Public Record and Philadelphia legend Sid Booker on Friday, March 27, to welcome the campaigns for the presidential, congressional and statewide races on the April 28 primary ballot as they meet potential constituents!

The event, featuring assorted beverages and light appetizers, will be held at:

The legendary Sid Booker’s Club LaPointe, 4600 North Broad Street, Philadelphia on Friday, March 27, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Admission is complimentary for the general public. 

RSVP Here: https://tinyurl.com/pprprimary2020

For sponsorship opportunities and for candidates and consultants interested in participating, contact Melissa Barrett, Director of Sales, 

215-755-2000, ext.5; mbarrett@phillyrecord.com

****************

EDITORIAL PAGES:

* Philadelphia Magazine opines that special elections are “undemocratic, wasteful and downright stupid.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to editor@cityandstatepa.com

TODAY’S SKED:

10 a.m. - the PA Senate Appropriations Committee will meet. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg.

10 a.m. - the PA House Appropriations Committee will meet. Room 140, Main Capitol, Harrisburg.

10 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council will meet. Room 400, City Hall, Philadelphia.

3 p.m. - the PA Senate Appropriations Committee will meet. Hearing Room 1, North Office Building, Harrisburg.

5:45 p.m. - Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will attend a fundraising event and awards ceremony that recognizes key community organizations and business leaders for their work to support immigrants in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 2nd Floor Gallery, 128 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.

To have your events included in Today’s Sked, please email the information to editor@cityandstatepa.com.

KICKER: “Seems like a huge stretch. I guess there are some seriously creative lawyers there.” – David Cuillier, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Arizona and president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. From Spotlight PA.