WEATHER: Philadelphia: partly cloudy, high of 71; Harrisburg: partly cloudy, high of 72; Pittsburgh: partly cloudy, high of 66.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday issued rulings that could make it easier for people to vote by mail, steps likely to aid Democrat Joe Biden’s prospects and increase the likelihood that results in the critical battleground state won’t be known for days after Election Day. In three decisions less than seven weeks before the Nov. 3 election, the Democratic-controlled high court extended the deadline for mail ballots to be returned, ruled that voters can use drop boxes to return them, and removed the Green Party’s presidential ticket from the ballot, the Inquirer reports.
* Republican lawmakers are denouncing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling affecting the November election, calling it nothing short of an attempt to tilt the election toward the Democrats, PennLive reports.
* A change counties say is critical to a smooth election – allowing them to begin processing ballots earlier – remains unresolved in the state Legislature. And with Republicans condemning the court’s rulings as partisan and dangerous, the chances of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and GOP leadership reaching an agreement seem less likely than ever, Spotlight PA reports.
* Pennsylvania’s effort to modernize its unemployment compensation benefits system continues to be a fiasco with the latest obstacle being related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new computer-based benefits delivery system intended to be more user friendly that would replace a nearly half-century-old mainframe computer system was expected to be ready to go live on Oct. 5. That date is now up in the air, PennLive reports.
* A federal judge’s ruling that several actions taken by Gov. Tom Wolf early in the coronavirus pandemic were unconstitutional leans heavily on precedent that hasn’t been invoked or respected since the early 1900s, according to some legal experts. Even those who were less critical questioned if the decision accomplished anything because it primarily deals with restrictions that are no longer in effect, and even they doubted it would be upheld on appeal, Spotlight PA reports.
* Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to his childhood hometown on Thursday, framing a presidential campaign now moving into its final weeks as a race between blue-collar Scranton and Park Avenue. During a drive-in town hall hosted by CNN’s Anderson Cooper at PNC Field, Biden tried to stake out a populist message while tackling an array of topics. Voters from around Pennsylvania peppered him with questions about everything from President Donald Trump’s handling the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact, to race relations, policing, and the environment, the Capital-Star reports.
* Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has made her first trip to Philadelphia of the general election campaign, visiting with Black business owners in Northwest Philly and holding a roundtable discussion in Councilwoman Cherelle Parker’s backyard, WHYY reports.
* The Philadelphia City Council formally banned police from using certain modes of restraint on crime suspects Thursday, including kneeling on a suspect's neck, and voted to open contract negotiations with the police union to the public, the AP reports.
* As Philadelphia residents continue trying to deal with the daily trauma inflicted by the gun violence epidemic, City Council on Thursday passed a resolution urging Mayor Jim Kenney to declare gun violence a citywide emergency, WHYY reports.
* Philadelphia’s rental assistance program will now pay up to $1,500 per month for tenants who lost income because of the pandemic, the city and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp. announced this week, the Inquirer reports.
* Nine people arrested following tense protests outside the Lancaster Bureau of Police Station over the shooting death of Ricardo Munoz were granted significantly lower bail Thursday, prosecutors said. Judge Dennis Reinaker on Thursday lowered their bail to $50,000 or $100,000, depending on the individual and what they are accused of. The judge cited public opinion and several of the protesters' petitions for modification in his decision, PennLive reports.
* The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday took no action to allow utilities to resume service terminations of nonpaying customers. Utilities have been pressing regulators to lift the moratorium, which the PUC put into place in March under an emergency order, the Inquirer reports.
* The Capital-Star has an op-ed by the Rev. Yvette Davis of POWER, who explains why the state Legislature’s silence on a minimum wage hike when so many are in need speaks volumes.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: … state Rep. Marty Flynn … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday to email@example.com
11:15 a.m. - Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney will speak at the Recharge & Recover PHL Preparing for Recovery virtual event, hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Contact the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for event details.
12 p.m. - Congresswoman Madeleine Dean will host a Facebook Live discussion to address the recent surge of gun violence in the Greater Philadelphia area on Rep. Dean’s Facebook page, where she will be joined by Democratic colleague Congressman Dwight Evans, the Executive Director of CeaseFire PA Adam Garber, and State Sen. Art Haywood.
12:30 p.m. - PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian will join the department’s Director of Transformational Technology Mark Kopko to discuss the agency’s advancements in the realm of Highly Automated Vehicles (HAV), including updates to its testing guidance. To RSVP, email DOTcomm@pa.gov.
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KICKER: “This woman said if she’s coming to Philadelphia, bring her straight to the ’hood, bring her right to see the people.” – Actress and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, speaking of Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. From WHYY.