WEATHER: Philadelphia: partly cloudy, high of 43; Harrisburg: partly cloudy, high of 43; Pittsburgh: partly cloudy, high of 39.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, a West Philadelphia Democrat who took office after a March special election, was charged with perjury, theft, tampering with public records, and related crimes on Wednesday. Johnson-Harrell used her nonprofit to enrich herself, stealing more than $500,000 from the organization to spend on real estate, vacations, luxury clothing — and her bid for the legislature, State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a morning news conference in Harrisburg, the Inquirer reports.
* A report by Moody’s shows that Pennsylvania is one of 16 states without the necessary financial reserves to weather the next economic downturn, the Capital-Star reports.
* State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced a new performance audit of the Pennsylvania Lottery Wednesday, with a special emphasis on studying the state-run gaming franchise’s protections against being ripped off by players or retailers who are intentionally gaming the system, the Patriot-News writes.
* A grand jury report released Tuesday found two of Pennsylvania’s tax credit programs are vulnerable to fraud, citing newly unsealed allegations that a couple disappeared in Hong Kong after using bogus front companies to obtain state tax credits they resold for millions of dollars, the AP reports.
* Civil rights groups, activists, and politicians in Philadelphia are ramping up pressure on Mayor Jim Kenney to reform the city’s police union contract before the current deal expires in 2020, Billy Penn writes.
* Despite efforts to increase Philadelphia’s tree canopy, the city has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields worth of leafy shade in the last 10 years, so the city is creating a 10-year Urban Forest plan to reverse the trend, the Inquirer reports.
* Real estate developers who are seeking to build large-scale projects may soon be required to provide amenities and services to nearby residents, according to a bill that advanced out of a City Council committee Wednesday, the Inquirer reports.
* Gov. Tom Wolf today announced the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has approved $1.2 million in grants for 18 projects to increase the production of Pennsylvania-made malt and brewed beverages and enhance the Pennsylvania beer industry through promotion, marketing, and research-based programs and projects, the Patriot-News writes.
* The Inquirer’s Mike Newall compares the approaches taken by Pennsylvania and New Jersey to help victims of sexual abuse – and finds the Keystone State seriously lagging the efforts of the Garden State.
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10 a.m. - the Special Council on Gun Violence will host a public hearing at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University on reducing community gun violence. Representatives from non-profit community outreach programs, victim service providers, researchers, law enforcement, and faith-based organizations will provide remarks to the Council on supporting survivors and victims of gun violence, community gun violence’s impacts on children and youth, what research tells us about community gun violence, public safety and law enforcement perspectives, community-based approaches to reducing gun violence in Pennsylvania, and the role of faith-based organizations in reducing community gun violence. Rooms 217 and 219, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University, 3500 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia.
10 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council will meet. Room 400, City Hall, Philadelphia.
10:30 a.m. - the Pittsburgh City Council Post Agenda will meet. Council Chambers, City-County Building, Pittsburgh.
10:30 a.m. - the PA Senate Independent Regulatory Review Commission will meet.
14th Floor Conference Room, 333 Market St., Harrisburg.
4 p.m. - the Philadelphia City Council Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention will meet. Dobbins Technical High School, 2150 W. Lehigh Avenue, Philadelphia.
6:30 p.m. - the Pittsburgh City Council Committee on Hearings will meet. Council Chambers, City-County Building, Pittsburgh.
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KICKER: “It is not lost on me that Rep. Johnson-Harrell has faced serious struggles in her personal life (but) defrauding a non-profit, defrauding taxpayers, and then systematically lying over many years to cover it up is unjust, it’s unfair and it’s a crime... She is going to spend time behind bars.” – PA AG Josh Shapiro. From the Inquirer.