Pa’s capital city has some work to do on LGBTQ equality, accommodation, report | Thursday Morning Coffee

November 21, 2019 7:11 am

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Pennsylvania’s Capital City has a vibrant and politically active LGBTQ community. But, according to a new report by the Human Rights Campaign, municipal officials have some work to do to craft policy and pass ordinances to ensure those residents are protected and feel valued.

Harrisburg scored a 69 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, putting it at the back of the pack that HRC surveyed. Allentown, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and State College all scored perfect 100s on the index, while Reading and Wilkes-Barre scored 91 and 90 respectively.

Rounding out the pack were New Hope borough in Bucks County (89), Carlisle borough in Cumberland County (86), and Erie (75).

According to the index, Harrisburg netted perfect scores for its non-discrimination ordinances (30 of 30); scored 26 of 28 points for its friendliness as a municipal employer, and five of 12 for the services that make LGBTQ citizens feel welcome in the communty.

The city, for instance, has a human rights commission with some enforcement teeth, but doesn’t have an LGBTQ liasion in the mayor’s office, the report found.

With Pennsylvania pausing to mark a Trans day of remembrance on Wednesday, the scores are worth some reflection, as is the fact that state lawmakers have refused to pass, or even debate, anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.

Our Stuff.

Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage this morning with Senate passage of a package of bills authorizing long-sought reforms to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault. But not everyone is happy with it.

On a busy night in the Senate, Stephen Caruso has what you need to know about the chamber’s vote to boost the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 an hour. One big obstacle: The Republican-controlled state House.

And setting up a guaranteed gubernatorial veto, the Senate gave final approval to a bill that bans abortion based on prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Meanwhile …

Veteran DelCo Rep. Steve Barrar, a Republican, will call it a career in 2020, making his the first, but certainly not the last, legislative retirement announcement. Caruso has the details on that. Ditto for a fiery House committee debate over a measure mandating childhood lead testing.

Lawmakers in the state House and Senate rallied Wednesday to call attention to the problem of childhood homelessness, and to highlight the success stories of those who have overcome it.

Capital-Star Washington Reporter Allison Stevens has the story on a bipartisan effort by Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation to fight PFAS contamination back home.

On our Commentary Page, Antoinette Kraus of the Pa. Health Action Network says Pa. families can’t wait any longer for relief from surprise medical bills. And Adrienne Standley of We the People — Pennsylvania says lawmakers need to expand access to a drug key to fighting the opioid epidemic, not restrict it.

A Colt handgun (Flickr Creative Commons photo)

Gun violence leaves scars that take years to heal, the Inquirer reports, citing a new University of Pennsylvania study.
The Pittsburgh Public Schools need to dial back their travel costsAuditor General Eugene DePasquale says. The Post-Gazette has the story.
Lehigh Valley residents have ‘conflicting’ views of Allentown after a summer of gun violence and years of redevelopment, a new Morning Call/Mulhenberg College poll finds.
PennLive has its own reporting on the minimum wage hike passed by the state Senate on Wednesday.

Here’s your #EriePA Instagram of the Day:

Philadelphia City Council is rushing to pass a 10-year tax abatement before 2020, WHYY-FM reports.
Rural and urban Pennsylvanians are working together on criminal justice reformWITF-FM has the details.
Talking Points Memo has four takeaways from the Dem debate.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 10 a.m., the Senate gavels in at its customary 11 a.m.
9:30 a.m, Media Center: House Rs on overwhelmingly passing the minimum wage. Kidding, it’s about cutting business taxes, natch.
11 a.m, Media Center: Ughhhh … something, something, something about Christmas shopping … Still too early, people. This kind of talk shouldn’t be happening until after Thanksgiving.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today. Sharpening your veto pen for that abortion ban takes prep, folks.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Tim Briggs
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Frank Burns (served on complimentary press releases, no doubt …)
8 a.m.: Breakfast for Rep. Kristine Howard
5:30 p.m.: Reception for House Minority Leader Frank Dermody
6:30 p.m: Reception for Sen. Larry Farnese
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out an absolutely preposterous $15,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept. 
Best wishes go out today to longtime Friend O’the Blog, Phil Press, along with our former Morning Call colleague, Matt Assad, both of whom celebrate today. Congrats and enjoy the day, gents.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Blossoms. It’s ‘Cool Like You.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Mike Babcock 
is out as coach of the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs. The ‘Leafs are 0-5-1 in their last six starts.

And now you’re up to date. 

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John L. Micek

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