Wolf Reiterates Fracking Support

Tom Wolf

Governor-elect Tom Wolf won’t be following the lead of fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who on Wednesday banned the practice of fracking in New York state.

Cuomo’s camp cited health and environmental concerns in deciding on a ban, but those issues won’t deter drilling in Pennsylvania, which like New York sits atop vast deposits of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
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State Rep. Spent $600 in Pa. Money to Promote His Acting Gig

It cost James Roebuck $600 to get into the Daily News gossip column. That wasn’t the state representative’s intention, but it was the end result.

On Sunday The Morning Call published a report on the use of consultants by state legislators. The gist: Despite having a small army of employees, lawmakers can (and do!) hire consultants with taxpayer money. The practice, while legal, has no oversight and a number of critics.

Which brings us to Roebuck. Two years ago, the state paid $600 to Bonnie Squires to promote Roebuck’s acting debut — as a corpse — in a play in West Philadelphia. Roebuck paid Squires’s firm $6,600 in consulting fees in 2013.

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Pot Advocate to Guide Policy in Wolf Administration

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One of Pennsylvania’s highest-profile voices for marijuana legalization will guide policy in the administration of Governor-Elect Tom Wolf.

Wolf’s transition team on Wednesday afternoon announced that John Hanger will be the Secretary of Planning and Policy in the new administration. Hanger served under Governor Ed Rendell as leader of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, but he’s possibly better-known for his short-lived run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination this year — a campaign in which he put up billboards in Erie and Scranton urging voters to legalize and tax marijuana. He dropped out before the primary election, however.

“We are spending $300 million, approximately, chasing down and arresting people who are possessing small amounts of marijuana,” Hanger told Philly Mag last spring. “If we get it out of the underground economy and start taxing it, instead of spending that $300 million we will raise $200 million dollars of new revenue. That’s a big deal for taxpayers.”

And it may be a big deal that Hanger is now in such a prominent position. Aside from it being ground-breaking — could an official with such a plainly pro-pot agenda have ascended to the governor’s cabinet a decade ago? — the appointment could signal an opportunity for progress, at least, on passage of a medical marijuana bill, which has passed the State Senate but made little headway otherwise.

The transition team announced two other appointments on Wednesday: Mary Isenhour as Secretary of Legislative Affairs, and Obra S. Kernodle IV as Deputy Chief of Staff and Director, Office of Public Liaison.

Seamus McCaffery Collects $11,000 Monthly Pension

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It’s good to be an ex-judge.

You remember Seamus McCaffery, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice who retired earlier this fall just as the Judicial Conduct Board was beginning an inquiry stemming from the porn email scandal uncovered by Attorney General Kathleen Kane? (The investigation ended when he stepped down.)

Looks like retirement will treat him well: The Associated Press reports McCaffery will collect a $11,000-a-month pension in retirement. That’s on top of cashing out $455,000 of his own contributions, plus interest.
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“Good Samaritan” Law Tries to Reduce Overdose Deaths

Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman overdosed on John Travolta’s heroin, and he had to figure out how to save her life — and his own, since she was the wife of a crime boss — while not getting busted himself for illegal drugs? That led to one of the more eye-popping moments in modern cinematic history:

Here’s the good news: Today, Travolta could just take Thurman to the hospital — in Pennsylvania, at least.
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Does Gov. Corbett Have One Big Bill Left in Him?

Pennsylvania Republicans continue to hold out the possibility of a “lame duck” session to pass GOP-favored legislation before Democrat Tom Wolf becomes governor in January. That’s two weeks after the newly elected members of the Legislature — and their larger GOP majorities in both chambers — take office, giving the GOP a chance to pass legislation relatively unimpeded.

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Wolf Seeks Statewide Paid Sick Leave Law

Tom Wolf

The Pennsylvania Independent, a right-leaning website, reports that Gov.-elect Tom Wolf wants to pursue a law guaranteeing paid sick  leave to workers across the state — similar to bills that have been twice vetoed in Philadelphia, but which appear to be closer to passage on third try.

A similar law passed in Connecticut has the support of three-quarters of business owners, the Independent report — but probably because it includes exceptions for small businesses and manufacturers. But Wolf may have a hard time getting that far with the proposal:

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