Tavern Games Turn Out Not to Be a Windfall

When Gov. Tom Corbett signed a bill last year allowing taverns to host small games of chance, the expectation was that the project might provide $100 million to state coffers its first fiscal year. Nope. CBS Philly reports that just seven bars have received gaming licenses, and just 15 more are currently applying.

The reason? Probably because a violation of gaming law could result in the loss of a liquor licence, under the current law.

“If you have a small mistake on a small games of chance license, which is a small dollar thing, that could go after their liquor license as well,” State Sen. Jake Corman said. “And I think that scares these folks.”

Philly Rep. Mark Cohen to Introduce PA’s First Transgender Rights Bill

Cohen at a recent Capitol news conference.

Cohen at a recent Capitol news conference.

Local trans activist-with-the-mostest Jordan Gwendolyn Davis reached out to let me know about a new transgender rights bill Philly Representative Mark Cohen will introduce in the House. The proposal is a four-bill package that will “address specific concerns faced by members of Pennsylvania’s transgender community involving institutional discrimination.”

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In Abandoned Sting Operation, Liquor Privatization Was Bait

Here’s a question about the abandoned sting that has Kathleen Kane in so much trouble these days: How close did it come to criminalizing normal political activity?

It’s a question that first started to lurk in our minds when the story first broke, with lurid tales of Democrats being given cash and gifts to vote against Voter ID laws they never, ever would’ve supported anyway. And the question grows stronger with today’s news from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review* that the confidential informant in the case often posed as a … proponent of liquor privatization.

* Watch out Inky! The Trib is hot on your heels on this story!

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The Abandoned Sting Case Might Be Bigger Than You Thought

A judge on Thursday agreed to a request from several Pennsylvania media organizations to unseal investigative records from the abandoned sting that had caught five Philadelphia Democrats taking cash from a confidential informant — and perhaps widened the scandal to an even broader group of politicos than was previously known.

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Pa. Senator Kicked Out of Bar After Possible Fight

The Inquirer‘s Angela Couloumbis reports Pennsylvania Sen. Lisa Boscola, a Democrat from Lehigh, was asked to leave a Harrisburg bar after getting into a fight with Republican House Speaker Sam Smith. She also got into a disagreement with an unidentified woman in the bar; that woman later wrote on Facebook that Boscola struck her.

In an interview Wednesday, Boscola acknowledged she was asked to leave the bar, but said she did not strike anyone.

“When you hit somebody there is a physical act of ‘stay away from me,’” she said of the woman. “Unless she was in my face. I do not know what her motivation is. I need to figure that out. Because in this business, it could be misinterpreted. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt as well. No one wants to hurt anyone in this business. Especially a woman. You know what I’m saying.”

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Republicans Join Call for Marcellus Tax

ABC27 in Harrisburg reports that Republicans are increasingly joining Democrats in calling for a tax on drilling in the Marcellus shale.

But Wednesday, a handful of House and Senate Republicans, mostly from the Philadelphia area, joined the chorus.

“There’s a theory out there that we shouldn’t be taxing this industry,” said DiGirolamo - (R) Bucks. “They pay this tax in every other state that they operate. This is a price of them doing business.”

Representative Tom Murt – (R) Montgomery, Philadelphia – says the state is facing a huge budget deficit and will need to find revenue. He thinks Marcellus drillers are the answer.

“The industry is doing very, very well.” Murt said. “I think there might be a collective belief on the part of many of my colleagues that perhaps the industry is not paying its fair share.”

The tax issue should loom large in fall’s general election campaign for governor.

Activist Brings “Private” Charges Against Lawmakers in Sting

Gene Stilp carries on where Kathleen Kane wouldn’t. PennLive reports:

Self-styled political activist Gene Stilp filed a private criminal complaint Tuesday against three sitting state lawmakers implicated in an aborted public corruption investigation.

Stilp has alleged misdemeanor violations of the state Ethics Act by Reps. Ronald Waters, Vanessa Lowery Brown, and Michelle Brownlee.

According to investigative files that have been shared with PennLive, all three Philadelphia Democrats were taped accepting cash gifts from a government informant posing as a lobbyist for the state Attorney General’s office from late 2010 through early 2012.

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