House to Vote on Cig Tax Today. (Really.)

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Here we go again: the Pennsylvania House is expected to vote today to give Philadelphia the authority to levy a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes to fund city schools. If approved, the bill goes to the Senate.

The problem? The Senate has approved gas tax authority for Philadelphia — but only in a bill larded down with amendments containing hotel taxes and other tax incentives favored in that chamber. Will the Senate vote for the House’s clean bill?

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It’s the End of the War on Drugs as We Know It

Kids, gather round. Let me share with you the horrors of my youth.

Behold:

And:

Back in the 1980s, these commercials were on a near-constant loop — especially on Saturday mornings and any other times kids might be watching TV. It was a steady drumbeat: Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Don’t do drugs. Somehow, people kept doing drugs.

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Chris Christie, Complaining of Leaks, Says “Bridgegate” Investigation Should End

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday it was time for a state legislative committee to end its investigation into the so-called “Bridgegate” controversy, saying the committee had leaked information designed to embarrass him without uncovering information he had committed wrongdoing.

“I’ve known all along that this has been a partisan pursuit,” Christie said, “and the leaking that’s being done by the legislative committee is just further evidence to the fact that this is a partisan pursuit.”
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3 Reasons We Need to End the Pennsylvania Death Penalty

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First of all, much praise to the Inquirer and City Paper. They’re among the publications joining the ACLU to sue the state to get information on the supplier of Pennsylvania’s lethal injection drugs. Journalism is all about getting information to the public, and sometimes a little extra pressure is needed: It’s good to see that both papers can still find ways to bring that pressure.

It would be better for everybody, though, if the suit weren’t needed.

It would be better for everybody if Pennsylvania didn’t have a death penalty at all.

Let’s skip the moral objections for now, because everybody has a moral stance on the issue — either for or against — and at this point, passionate moral arguments probably aren’t going to move the needle. So let’s talk about good governance. Because the death penalty — in Pennsylvania — and elsewhere, is lousy governance:

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Magazine Says Pa. Governor Race Is “Likely Democratic”

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Less than two months to the election, and Tom Wolf’s defeat of Tom Corbett is increasingly looking like a sure thing.

PoliticsPA points to Governing magazine, which every year offers election forecasts. The magazine has changed its forecast of the Pennsylvania governor’s race from “leaning Democratic” to “likely Democratic,” and seems likely to be the only Republican-held governorship to change hands this year.
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Philadelphia Election 2015: Who Wants to Be Mayor?

Illustration by James Boyle

Illustration by James Boyle

Used to be that the mayoralty of Philadelphia was a job worth taking a risk for, a gig deserving of a little personal sacrifice. Frank Rizzo wanted a third term so badly that it just might have killed him. John Street, probably the most powerful Council president in the city’s modern history, surrendered that clout to run for mayor. And Michael Nutter was the longest of long shots when he gave up a steady paycheck and his Council seat in July 2006, nearly a year before the primary.

Now, though, what you mostly hear from the field of potential 2015 candidates — a shifting array of names including city controller Alan Butkovitz, City Councilman Jim Kenney, city managing director Rich Negrin, State Senator Anthony Williams, former D.A. Lynne Abraham, attorney Kenneth Trujillo, former Nutter press secretary Doug Oliver, Frank Rizzo Jr. and three-time mayoral candidate Sam Katz — are all the reasons not to run, at least not yet. Some are waiting for Council president Darrell Clarke to decide if he’s in or out. Half the city’s political class is convinced Clarke is the best man for the job right now. Clarke himself seems considerably less certain.
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Law Firm Asks Court to Forgive Bob Brady’s $450,000 Debt

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It seems a bit late to make a donation to Congressman Bob Brady‘s failed 2007 mayoral campaign — but not, perhaps, if you’re a well-heeled law firm.

The Legal Intelligencer reports today that the firm Cozen O’Connor is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to let it forgive $450,000 owed by Brady from when the firm defended him from Tom Knox‘s challenge to his spot on the Democratic ballot that year. Stephen Cozen argued on behalf of his firm. (Earlier reports put the tab at $500,000.)
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