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House power struggle over special elections heads to court today
This morning at 10:00 a.m., the Commonwealth Court will hold a status conference in the legal battle over who can call for the special elections for three vacant House seats. House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler has issued writs of elections, as has Democrat Leader Joanna McClinton. McClinton claims Democrats hold the House majority due to winning 102 seats last month, but Cutler notes Republicans hold the numerical majority at 101, as three seats won by Dems are empty. Selected filings from the court case are posted here.
Philly hits 500 homicides for 2nd straight year
It’s news no one wants to share. For the second consecutive year, Philadelphia has recorded 500 homicides. The Inquirer reports, “While the total number of homicides recorded so far this year is slightly lower than last year’s record-breaking total, it’s a loss of human life the city has only twice recorded in its known history, and matches the record of 500 killings set in 1990, at the height of the crack-cocaine epidemic.” The rising crime led to the House impeachment of District Attorney Larry Krasner, who is scheduled to stand trial before the Senate beginning on January 18.
Two more Johnny Doc allies expected to plead guilty today
“The guilty pleas keep coming in Johnny Doc’s embezzlement case,” reports the Inquirer. “Court hearings have been scheduled for Michael Neill, the longtime head of the union’s [IBEW 98’s] apprentice training program, and Dougherty’s nephew, Brian Fiocca, to admit their roles in an embezzlement scheme that prosecutors say drained $600,000 from union coffers between 2010 and 2016.” IBEW 98’s longtime political director, Marita Crawford, and Johnny Doc’s former assistant, Niko Rodriguez, pleaded guilty earlier this week. “That leaves only two defendants remaining as the Jan. 23 trial date approaches: union president Brian Burrows, and Dougherty….”
Pa. gas tax to go up in January
As if the annual turnpike toll increase isn’t enough, our state gas tax—already among the highest in the country—is slated to increase next month. PennLive reports, “PennDOT said the gas tax in Pennsylvania will be going up from just under 58 cents per gallon to more than 61 cents per gallon. This also affects the tax on diesel fuel, which will rise from more than 74 cents per gallon to 78.5 cents.” Although the tax is assessed at the wholesale level, it’s always consumers who end up paying for government’s taxing penchant.