In Harrisburg, every day is Groundhog Day for bad ideas (and some good ones) | Friday Morning Coffee

February 15, 2019 7:13 am

The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

It wasn’t a matter of “if,” but rather, “when,” abortion-rights opponents in the Pennsylvania General Assembly were going to launch this year’s campaign against a woman’s right to choose.

On Wednesday, state Rep. Kate Klunk, R-York, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Alleghenygot the pointless charade going again, as they announced plans to reintroduce legislation that would ban abortion based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Here we go again.

Based on past experience, we know what to expect.

Plan for the same volley of press conferences and overheated rhetoric, with, more than likely the same result: A vote, and possible approval, in the state House, and, then, likely inaction by the Republican-controlled Senate in the face of a all-but-guaranteed gubernatorial veto.

Even so, the bill is a reminder that the real arena in the fight over abortion rights continues to be state Capitols across the land.

It’s also a reminder that, in Harrisburg, the same issues recur again and again.

From the fight over the minimum wage to the battle to eliminate property taxes and state police funding, lawmakers often spend years waging the same battles. Sometimes they’re successful. Sometimes they are not.

More often than not, it depends on the quality of the ideas – and who holds the power. Abortion restriction bills fail under Democratic governors, which was one of the reasons last year’s fight for the top spot was so consequential.

Bills like the state police fee or local radar fail because significant lobbying forces are arrayed against them. The property tax bill fails, well, because the numbers never add up.

Major reform efforts – like reducing the size of the Legislature, or campaign finance and lobbying reform – efforts fail because the instinct for political self-preservation overrides everything else.

Hang around this building long enough, and you see these issues come around again and again.

With any luck, this latest bad idea will fail again. And more important work can resume.

The rest of our stuff:
Sarah Anne Hughes
 takes a look at the Wolf administration’s efforts to redesign ineffective job-training programs.

During a budget hearing Thursday, state lawmakers questioned the Wolf administration’s plan to fund environmental programs, Stephen Caruso reports.

Elizabeth Hardison looks at ‘red-flag’ gun-control bills introduced by state lawmakers on the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting.

Columnist Anwar Curtis runs down some unique Black History Month celebrations going on across Harrisburg this week.

And at the Forum auditorium, state agencies staged a celebration of their own on Thursday.

Who says there are no second — or third — acts in American life? Former LG Mike Stack has his eye on a run for Philadelphia City CouncilPhillyClout reports.

Amazon may rethink its plans for a store in Philly if the city bans cashless retailersThe Inquirer reports.

The ACLU has filed suit against a central Pa. judge who called ICE when a Guatemalan man came to her to get married, PennLive reports.

PennLive has the details that would create separate private and public championships for the PIAA.

Amazon pulled the plug on its HQ2 search, but Pittsburgh might still benefitThe Post-Gazette reports.

Outdoor advertiser Lamar and officials in Pittsburgh are squabbling over a billboard in Mount WashingtonThe Tribune-Review reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

BillyPenn explains how Philly pols use fear to stay in power.

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th Districthas been tapped to serve on the House Ethics CommitteeThe Morning Call reports.

Indicted Philly Councilman Bobby Henon has drawn two challengersWHYY-FMreports.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, have announced $670 million in funding to finish a missing chunk of Route 322 in Centre County, WPSU-FM reports.

Allegheny County attorney Beth Tarasi, of Pittsburgh, has announced a Democratic bid for state Superior CourtPoliticsPA reports.

Beto O’Rourke is headed for the key states of Wisconsin and Illinois as his decision on a 2020 bid looms, Politico reports.

Roll Call explains why 19 Democrats and 109 Republicans voted against the funding deal.

Gov Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a classic from Manic Street Preachers: It’s “You Stole the Sun From My Heart.”

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link. 
Winnipeg lost to Colorado 4-1 on ThursdayThe Avs snapped an eight-game losing streak with the win.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.