WEATHER: Philadelphia: sunny, high of 61; Harrisburg: sunny, high of 66; Pittsburgh: mostly sunny, high of 63.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly appear to have just completed their easiest budget negotiation of Wolf’s six-year tenure. Final passage of a near-$12 billion appropriations bill to complete the 2020-21 fiscal year is expected Friday, PennLive reports.
* Against the pleas of restaurant owners, service providers, and other industries, Republican leaders in the legislature are moving forward with a plan to use all $1.3 billion in remaining coronavirus relief aid to pay for the state budget. To avoid raising taxes or borrowing, the legislature intends to use the federal stimulus money to pay the salaries of state-employed public health and safety frontline workers, according to summary materials provided to House Republican members, Spotlight PA reports.
* Commonwealth Secretary Kathy Boockvar has accused the Trump campaign of a “bald-faced attempt” to overturn the will of the Pennsylvania electorate. The campaign and two voters recognize President Donald Trump is unlikely to win the popular vote in Pennsylvania and wants a federal judge “to simply” declare him the winner, she claimed Thursday, PennLive reports.
* Republicans in the Pennsylvania House succeeded Thursday in directing a state agency to conduct a review of election procedures despite unified opposition from Democrats. The chamber voted 112 to 90 for a resolution that told the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, or a contractor it will hire, to conduct the study and report back by early February, the AP reports.
* More than 2,000 undated mail-in ballots cannot be counted in a western Pennsylvania state Senate race, an appeals court ruled Thursday, saying handwritten dates “provide a measure of security.” The 2-1 Commonwealth Court decision could swing the neck-and-neck contest in which Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli trails narrowly against Sen. Jim Brewster, D-Allegheny, the AP reports.
* Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed legislation Thursday cracking down on quick-moving real-estate intermediaries known as “wholesalers,” who are seen by some as exploiting underinformed property owners in neighborhoods with rapidly accelerating land values, the Inquirer reports.
* Two progressive freshman lawmakers broke into leadership ranks in the state Senate Democrats on Thursday, beating out moderate colleagues with many more years of Capitol experience. Sens. Katie Muth and Maria Collett, who both hail from the Philadelphia suburbs and were among a wave of Democratic women elected to office in 2018, were chosen by their colleagues to serve as policy chair and caucus secretary, respectively, when the General Assembly starts its new legislative session in 2021, the Capital-Star reports.
* State regulators on Wednesday approved a 5.2% rate increase for Philadelphia Gas Works residential customers that will be phased in over the next year, a negotiated settlement that includes onetime bill credits of $300 for some customers slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Inquirer reports.
* Wolf will veto legislation heading to his desk that would repeal long-standing laws intended to control the carrying of guns and prevent public officials from shutting down firearms sales during disaster emergencies declared by a governor, the AP reports.
* A pair of progressive groups are pushing Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as a possible Attorney General candidate in a Biden administration. The Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats released a joint list of cabinet candidates that they would like to see in the Biden administration and included Krasner as one of three candidates for Attorney General, Politics PA reports.
* A reduction of Philadelphia’s 10-year tax abatement for commercial development is on the table after City Council Majority leader Cherelle Parker introduced a bill to trim the incentive long at the center of an ongoing debate over inequality in the city. The abatement change could replace a 1% construction tax proposed as a funding mechanism for a $400 million package of housing and community development programs, WHYY reports.
* Three former employees of Philadelphia’s Department of Revenue have been accused of accepting bribes. According to a city press release, Philadelphia residents Jarredd McQueen, 50; Demarys Natal, 56; and Nicole Mixon, 44, are being charged with allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes totaling an estimated $57,900, WHYY reports.
* The Capital-Star has an op-ed by state Sen. Jay Costa, who acknowledges that he did not expect President Donald Trump to take his loss gracefully – and he also did not expect to see his Republican colleagues in the General Assembly run to Trump’s aid and make bad-faith allegations about the election.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … state Rep. Pam Snyder … Philadelphia City Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sanchez (11/21) … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to firstname.lastname@example.org
9:30 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council Committee on People with Disabilities and Special Needs will meet. This meeting will be held remotely using Microsoft® Teams. This remote session may be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40 or http://phlcouncil.com/watch-city-council/
10 a.m. - the PA House State Government Committee will meet. Room G50, Irvis Office Building, Harrisburg.
12 p.m. - the PA House will meet. Main Capitol, Harrisburg.
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KICKER: “I don’t think people understand the devastation that has happened in these neighborhoods across the city of Philadelphia way before the pandemic. The simple reality is the people in those communities aren’t getting the jobs, the people in those communities aren’t getting an opportunity to live in new developments because they are way priced too high.” – Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke. From WHYY.