We’re looking for answers to our biggest problems. Help us move #PaForward | Tuesday Morning Coffee

Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pa. (Image via Flickr Commons)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers
Today, we’re asking you to join us on a very special, and very important, journey, as the 253 members of the state House and Senate return from their annual summer recess to take up some of the most pressing public policy challenges in recent memory.

From gun violence to climate change, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the breadth and the scope of the issues that confront us and the elected leaders who act on our behalf.

But here’s the thing: Pennsylvania is a vibrant and diverse commonwealth of more than 12 million people. The nation’s fifth-largest state boasts an array of public and private institutions of higher learning; a mosaic of advocates, activists, and change agents; and an army of volunteers, community leaders, and local elected officials.

Put them together, and you have some of the deepest expertise in the country. And the best part, they’re all trying to make their little corner of Pennsylvania a better place.

So, with that in mind, this morning the Capital-Star is launching #PAForward, an eight-month-long effort to leverage that expertise, passion, and knowledge to seek evidence-based responses to the big issues of our time.

Here’s how it’ll work:

Over the next eight months, the Capital-Star will explore a new issue every two months.

And we’ll do it with pieces of explanatory journalism; stories about evidence-based responses that have a measurable impact that could be reproduced in Pennsylvania; profiles of the advocates, elected officials, volunteers, and faith leaders who are making a difference in their communities; and opinion journalism by the best and brightest in their respective fields.

We’ll cap it off with a public event bringing together a broad spectrum of Pennsylvanians to discuss what we’ve learned and to talk about how to move forward.

Importantly, we want to expand the conversation beyond the usual voices that so often dominate our public policy debate. We want to elevate the voices of those whose passion, interest, and expertise might not always find its way into our dialogue.

And because Pennsylvania lawmakers, like their counterparts on Capitol Hill, are returning amid a nationwide outcry to do something — anything — about the plague of gun violence in our schools, homes, streets, and houses of worship, that’s where we’ll begin as well.

This morning, we’ll get things rolling with a patented Capital-Star explainer by Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes, framing out the debate, the players, and the legislation that’s now before the state House and Senate.

On our Commentary Page, you’ll find a piece by Brian Malte, a veteran activist from California’s Hope and Heal Fund, who details the price that active shooter drills are having on our children.We’ll be back next week with stories and opinion journalism to compliment two days’ worth of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And here’s the important part:We want to hear from you. If you have a question about gun violence, or if you’re an expert or an advocate with specific expertise, you can share your thoughts here.

As ever, we won’t share your personal information. But if your idea piques our interest, don’t be surprised if someone from our staff reaches out.

Similarly, if you’d like to share your thoughts or ideas in an op-ed on our Commentary Page, please contact me at [email protected].

Submissions should be a maximum of 750 words, and can be sent as an MSWord attachment, a Google document, or pasted into the body of an email. No PDF format documents, please.

We also request a headshot of the author, and a two-line bio explaining who you are, what you do, and the municipality in which you live.

Here at the Capital-Star, we want to help move #PaForward. Please join us on that journey.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Charter school parents and their children pushed back against Wolf administration reforms during a Capitol rally on Monday. Elizabeth Hardison has the story.

Latinx leaders from across Pennsylvania kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating their heritage even as they exercised some serious political clout.

Stephen Caruso hit a joint meeting of the House and Senate State Government committees, where lawmakers discussed the best ways to fix Pa’s absentee ballot law. Agreement on a solution, naturally, remains elusive.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, Black clergy in Philadelphia are calling for a loan-forgiveness program to encourage service.

On our Commentary Page, Opinion regular Mark O’Keefe has some ideas on how Gov. Tom Wolf can finally seal the deal on that elusive State Police fee. And a coalition of advocates say planned Trump administration food stamps cuts will aggravate inequality.

The Philadelphia Skyline from the ‘Rocky Steps’ at the Philly Art Museum. Photo by Steve Lange, courtesy of Flickr Commons.

Elsewhere.
Philadelphia’s police union says it’s going to sue the city over ‘faulty’ payroll software, the Inquirer reports.
The Carnegie Library has a new system to help patrons find books on sensitive subjects without having to ask a librarian for help, Pittsburgh City Paper reports.
Even if central Pa. drivers don’t like them (and they don’t know how to drive them, for sure), PennDOT says traffic roundabouts are workingPennLive reports.
Lehigh University student who was armed with a knife and a gun has been taken into custody, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

View this post on Instagram

Sunset over 376 #pittsburgh

A post shared by Lukas Kosslow (@kosslowphotography) on

At least for now, a judge has put the brakes on the sale of Hahnemann Hospital’s residency program, WHYY-FM reports.
The PA Post goes deep on legislation that could help release 1,000 people sentenced to life in prison.
To rein in cities, Texas is trying to ban them from lobbying, Stateline.org reports.
2020 Dem candidate Amy Klobuchar will campaign in Philly and Pittsburgh, PoliticsPA reports.
President Donald Trump is stopping short of saying Iran ‘orchestrated’ that attack on Saudi ArabiaRoll Call reports.

What Goes On.
As befits a session day, the schedule is packed, Thank goodness DGS put up those hideous Studio 54 disco barriers to keep the rabble in line.
The House convenes at 1 p.m.
10 a.m., Capitol Steps: Moms Demand Action and lawmakers demand, well, action on Red Flag bills, as a part of Suicide Prevention Month.
11 a.m., Media Center: Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, and activists from PennEnvironment talk about the VW Dieselgate settlement’s impact on Pennsylvania.
11 a.m., Main Rotunda: Rally calling for … erm … no limits on opioid prescriptions.
12 p.m., Main Rotunda: We The People (but no more than 450 of them) Rally calling for a minimum wage hike.
1 p.m., Main Rotunda: House lawmakers call on the Wolf administration to set methane limits. If it’s greenhouse gas they’re worried about, there’s always that amendment to reduce the size of the General Assembly …

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf
 holds a 3:30 p.m. newser in the Reception Room to talk about his trip to Poland and the Baltics. And at 5:30 p.m., the Guv, joined by ex-Govs. Tom Corbett and Mark Schweiker hold a planning session at the Rez for America’s 250th birthday (hastily reviews state Constitution’s language on term limits …).

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Jim Rigby
11:30 a.m.: Luncheon for Rep. Jonathan Fritz
5:30 p.m.: 
Reception for Rep. Peter Schweyer
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $1,750 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to a trio of Democratic apparatchiks this morning. In ascending order of … ahh … seniority, we’ll say a hearty congrats to J.J. Abbott, in the office of Gov. Tom Wolf; Democratic fundraiser Aubrey Montgomery, and Tony Lepore, chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. Congrats, folks, enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a jam from Rudimental to really fire up your Tuesday. It’s ‘Feel the Love.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
Aston Villa 
dueled to a scoreless draw with West Ham United on Monday. Those games are among the most exciting. The Guardian has the story.

And now you’re up to date. 

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.

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