State officials, advocates ask Legislature to fund waterway protection | Five for the Weekend

Clean waterway advocates ask: ‘if not now, when?’

By: - June 11, 2022 6:30 am

Catawissa Creek, a visually beautiful waterway that drains into the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, suffers from acid mine drainage that kills aquatic life. (Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper photo)

Happy weekend, all. 

With a finalized budget plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year due by June 30, state lawmakers, officials, and clean water advocates are calling on the General Assembly to allocate a portion of the $2.2 billion in unspent American Rescue Plan funds to protect Pennsylvania’s waterways.

“We are at a historic juncture in Pennsylvania, where we can choose to support vibrant parks, trails, clean waterways, healthy outdoor recreation opportunities and so much more on our public lands,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a statement earlier this week. “These are places where citizens can come together and relax, recreate and recover. Where the community and state economies benefit from the local jobs supported and the quality of life improvements. What better way to come together in bipartisan fashion to help restore our society and economy than by investing in a clean, healthy environment, green spaces, parks and trails. It is critical we invest in our natural spaces and set Penn’s Woods up for its brightest future.”

Growing Greener III and the Clean Streams Fund need to be prioritized this summer as lawmakers debate a new fiscal spending plan,” a statement from PennFuture, an environmental advocacy organization, reads. “Those two proposals would direct $750 million towards clean water, conservation, and open space funding.”

State Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver, R-Northumberland, is the prime sponsor of HB 2020, which would replenish the commonwealth’s Growing Greener fund. The fund has financed efforts to address environmental concerns statewide since 1999, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“More than 20 years after Gov. Tom Ridge signed the initial Growing Greener legislation into law, the program continues to positively impact Pennsylvania in so many ways,” Schlegel-Culver said. “But if we are to continue to enjoy benefits such as clean water, preserved farmland, recreational and employment opportunities and thriving communities, we must once again make necessary investments that allow that growth to carry on.”

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Source: Tom Wolf Flickr.)

1. Doctor for Fetterman says lieutenant governor, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee has cardiomyopathy

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman — also the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee — who suffered a stroke last month also had a previously undisclosed heart condition that prompted doctors to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator into his heart.

His campaign released a letter from a doctor on Friday afternoon, saying that Fetterman, 52, has cardiomyopathy, which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood. The statement was the first public comment made by a doctor for Fetterman since he disclosed the stroke on May 15.

Ramesh R. Chandra, a cardiologist at Alliance Cardiology, said Fetterman should be able to campaign and serve in elected office as long as he takes his medications, eats healthy, and exercises.

State Rep. Meghan Schroeder, R-Bucks, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday, 6/7/22 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek).
State Rep. Meghan Schroeder, R-Bucks, speaks during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda on Tuesday, 6/7/22 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek).

2. Pa. lawmaker, advocates call for U.S. constitutional amendment that could end up banning dark money

Here are three numbers to keep in mind: $99 million; $3.5 billion, and $18 million.

They are, respectively, the money that was spent in Pennsylvania’s nationally watched U.S. Senate primary; the total amount of untraceable “dark money” that super PACs pumped into the 2020 elections, and the total amount that Pennsylvania’s wealthiest resident spent to influence the outcome of the commonwealth’s 2022 primary election.

That data, compiled by the good government group American Promise, helps build the case for amending the U.S. Constitution to give states, currently restricted by decades of court precedent, a freer hand to regulate campaign finance rules within their borders, the group said during a Tuesday news conference in the Capitol rotunda.

(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)

3. Did the Clinton-era assault weapons ban work? Here’s what the numbers say | Opinion

In the wake of two mass shootings in the past two weeks (one in Atlanta at massage parlors, and one in Boulder Colorado at a supermarket), President Joe Biden called for the assault weapons ban, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, to be reinstated.

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, objected, calling gun control legislation “ridiculous theater.”

We tested whether the ban worked or not.

‘We can’t continue to let people continue to kill people,’ Maureen Long, of Philadelphia, told NBC-10 after Saturday’s mass shooting on South Street (Screen Capture).

4. A mass shooting in Philly: Lead or get out of the way | Monday Morning Coffee

Three people were killed and 11 more were wounded after a mass shooting late Saturday night on Philadelphia’s South Street, a beloved strip of bars, restaurants and shops that is a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, multiple shooters began firing into the crowd around 11:30 p.m. One witness, who was standing outside the Theatre of Living Arts, a storied concert venue on South between Third and Fourth Streets, told the Inquirer he thought the shooting was never going to stop.

Eric Rosso, of the progressive muckraking site Pennsylvania Spotlighttweeted that he “had a uniquely American moment where I ran from my first mass shooting last night after getting out of a show at the TLA.”

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends the Senate Education Committee Hearing held at the Pennsylvania Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends the Senate Education Committee Hearing held at the Pennsylvania Capitol on May 24, 2022 in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

5. Doug Mastriano’s largest donor is Shake Shack’s bread maker

What does something as wholesome-sounding as a potato roll have to do with the assault on American democracy? The answer is James Martin. The Pennsylvania bread maker is the largest donor by far to the state’s far-right Republican nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano.

Martin also contributed to the campaign of Trump-endorsed Jody Hice, the Georgia congressman and election denier who this week failed in his attempt to unseat Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state who refused to “find” the 11,000 votes that would have helped former President Donald Trump overturn the 2020 election.

Martin is the patriarch behind family-owned Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, and has donated over $200,000 to dozens of Republican candidates in eight states over the past 15 years. But he appears to be uniquely energized by Mastriano’s campaign.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.