WEATHER: Philadelphia: a.m. fog, p.m. sun, high of 74; Harrisburg: partly cloudy, high of 79; Pittsburgh: partly cloudy, high of 80.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* A last-ditch attempt to fix Pennsylvania’s ailing COVID-19 rent relief program hit a wall Wednesday after Senate Republican leadership did not advance legislation, making it likely many landlords and families on the financial brink will not get the aid they desperately need. The failure came as a surprise even to House Republicans, who joined with Democrats in unanimous support of a bill passed Monday to make critical and long-awaited changes that would allow more people to take advantage of the $150 million program, Spotlight PA reports.
* Speaking at a drive-in rally for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in South Philadelphia, former President Barack Obama attacked President Donald Trump on a wide range of issues – including his personal tax payments, embrace of conspiracy theories, handling of the economy and efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act – as he implored Democrats to avoid complacency and turn out at the polls, the Washington Post reports.
* Iran and Russia both have obtained American voter registration data and Iran used the information to send threatening emails to American voters, the New York Times reported Wednesday, citing information made public by senior U.S. intelligence officials. On Tuesday, voters in four states: Alaska, Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania, received threatening emails that claimed to be from the Proud Boys, the far-right group that supports President Donald Trump, but instead appeared to be part of a “deceptive campaign making use of a vulnerability in the organization’s online network,” the Washington Post and other news outlets reported, the Capital-Star reports.
* Pennsylvania has eclipsed 9 million registered voters for the first time and is expecting record turnout as voters cast ballots by mail or drop box and in person at county elections offices before the election and at the polls on Nov. 3. As of Wednesday, the state had processed 9,050,870 voter registrations, said Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. That number is expected to increase as paper registrations are processed. Monday was the deadline to register to vote in next month’s election, the Tribune-Review reports.
* The abortion-rights group Emily’s List says it will spend more than $1 million to flip the General Assembly and install Philadelphian Nina Ahmad in the state Auditor General’s Office, the only open row office post this campaign cycle, the Capital-Star reports.
* Jerry Jordan, president of the 13,000-member Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, told members in a Wednesday night meeting that the union had come to terms with the Philadelphia School District on a tentative one-year contract, avoiding the potential for a strike, the Inquirer reports.
* Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail law has expanded access – primarily for middle-class and affluent voters who would likely have voted anyway. A year later, poor Philadelphians are still more likely to vote in person, the Inquirer reports.
* The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 1,425 new positive cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 186,297. This marks the 16th consecutive day more than 1,000 cases have been reported, PennLive reports.
* Tumar Alexander, who has been serving as Philadelphia’s acting managing director since September, has accepted Mayor Jim Kenney’s offer to permanently take over the top bureaucratic job in city government, the mayor’s office announced Wednesday. The move brings to a close a period of upheaval in the top level of Kenney’s administration triggered by widespread criticism of the city’s handling of the demonstrations against the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Inquirer reports.
* A battery of expiring Philadelphia renter protections may be extended by City Council – but with more stringent eligibility requirements, if some groups have their way, WHYY reports.
* State Sen. Art Haywood Wednesday called on officials of Pennsylvania’s system of public universities to prioritize solutions to address racism and inequity experienced by students of color as part of a larger planned restructuring, Spotlight PA reports.
* A new bipartisan bill in Harrisburg would prohibit nearly two dozen universities in Pennsylvania from asking applicants about their criminal records. The Common Application, the most widely used college application in the country, stopped asking prospective students that question last year. But schools that want to continue using the application can still ask about a person’s juvenile and adult criminal records using their own supplemental forms. If the bill passes, that will no longer be an option, WHYY reports.
* The state House on Wednesday passed a bill that would protect young victims of sexual assault from having to encounter their attacker if they go to the same school. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Scott Martin, is now on its way to Gov. Tom Wolf for enactment, PennLive reports.
* The Citizens’ Voice puts forth the eminently sensible suggestion that in the wake of state lawmakers enacting a pay freeze for themselves this year, that a change to the state Constitution should be made so that they have to take a vote each year over whether they should give themselves a raise, instead of the current structure, which automatically gives them a cost-of-living increase annually.
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10 a.m. - the Philadelphia City Council will meet. This remote hearing may be viewed on Xfinity Channel 64, Fios Channel 40 or http://phlcouncil.com/watch-city-council/
10 a.m. - the PA House and Senate Joint Legislative Air And Water Pollution Control And Conservation Committee will meet. Salus University, 8360 Old York Rd., Elkins Park.
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KICKER: “Obama’s ability to mobilize Democrats is rivaled by only one other person, and that would be Trump – Obama because he inspires us and tells us, ‘Yes we can,’ and Trump because he dares tell us we can’t.” – State Sen. Sharif Street. From the Washington Post.