March 12, 2021
$13.7 billion in relief aid for PA, $1.1 billion of it for Philly

How much of that $1.1 billion will flow directly into the city’s coffers is unclear, but overall the School District is expected to receive $1.2 billion, SEPTA $650 million and PHL $115 million, according to The Inquirer, which also published totals for southeast municipalities in PA and South Jersey. Renters, restaurant owners and SNAP recipients, not to mention parents and everyone whose annual income is $75,000 or less will get support as well.
  • What will the city do with its share? For starters, there’s a $450 million budget hole to fill. Mayor Kenney will lay out the city’s priorities in his annual budget address, postponed this year until April 15. Hearings in Council will follow and the deadline for enactment is, as usual, June 30.
  • And the rest of PA? All told, some $5.7 billion is earmarked for county and municipal governments around the Commonwealth. Some are in more trouble than others. Some even have balanced budgets—but often at the cost of service cuts. The relief funds will allow them to bring back furloughed workers and resume work on delayed projects, the PA Capital-Star Reports.
Harrisburg election-law hearing marathon continues

Opinions differ on the 14 House State Government Committee hearings entirely on election issues, but lawmakers are undeniably covering a lot ground. To date, hearing panels have been populated with credible people -- local and state election officials and a few outside experts. Voting rights advocates, however, have yet to be included; and committee discussions will progress more quickly if lawmakers can ask more forward-looking questions. After a contentious first session focused on the vote-by-mail guidance issued by the Department of State to county election officials, the subsequent hearings have covered a range of issues: Pennsylvania’s nearly 20-year-old voter database, post-election audits and the impact of the new voter registration deadline two weeks prior to Election Day. Wednesday, the topic before the panel was the safety and security of voting machines.
  • Next up: The March 18 hearing is scheduled to focus on mail-in ballots. It’ll be live-streamed on
  • Still urgent: A LancasterOnline editorial calls on Golf. Wolf and the General Assembly to find common ground on pre-canvassing in time for 2022, if not earlier.
Caught our eye
Post-election voter-registration shifts by county -- Key: Navy - D+5,000 or more, Blue - D+1,001 to D+4,999, Light Skyblue - D+1 to D+1,000. Light Salmon - R+1 to R+1,000, Red - R+1,001 to R+4,999, Maroon - R+5,000 or more. (Map by Nick Field of PA Capital-Star via Dave’s Redistricting)
On our radar
News is no longer all Trump all the time: Axios reports that “America is learning to rebalance its news diet post-Trump.” We’re consuming less news, too—political news, especially: down 28% in February from January.
We’re not as divided as the parties would like you to think: The Democratic and Republican parties and their most committed adherents are driving the division, the Independent Voter Network’s Shawn Griffiths asserts. Most Americans are somewhere in the middle.
But far-right misinformation still thrives on Facebook: NPR cites an NYU study that also says these misleading accounts are more successful than other kinds of accounts at getting likes, shares and other forms of user engagement.
Local news is not dead yet: Media critic Tom Rosenstiel praises local media outlets for creativity in engaging their readers in a Poynter Institute posting that cites The Inquirer and Harrisburg’s NPR station, WITF.
More women under the Dome: The number of female PA legislators has more than doubled over the last 10 years, but there are still only 73 (out of 253).
Open records, closed state offices: Proposals to strengthen PA’s Open Records Law were addressed at a Tuesday hearing of the House State Government Committee. It came in the wake of a year when there was an increase in demand and a decrease in the state’s ability to meet it.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night: USPS says it delivered 94% of its election-related mail on time last year.
Judicial-candidate lineup set: The PA Capital-Star has an early look at the 14 R and D candidates running for the eight open seats on the Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts. Check candidate ratings from the PA Bar Association.
Asleep at the switch: The City Health Department “ignored red flags” over Philly Fighting Covid, a report by the Office of the Inspector General charges.
Get Involved
Partnership to End Racism Survey: Your Voice Is Our Voice
Take the survey now!

The Ending Racism Partnership, a citywide collaboration of Philadelphia residents, leaders, and influencers from community, business, government and philanthropy to end racial injustice and economic inequality, want you to take this five-minute survey to gather personal experiences about race and racism to document just how pervasive discrimination is in our day-to-day lives.
Students for Open Primaries Launch
Wed., March 17, 5 pm

Over 50% of millennials and Gen Zers identify as independent voters—not as Republicans or Democrats. With such a large portion of the electorate identifying as independents, there is a growing call for nonpartisan, fair and open primaries across the nation, especially among younger generations. Students for Open Primaries, a new organization of student leaders advocating for democratic reform, kicks off on Wednesday! RSVP for the launch event.
Redrawing the Lines: A Spotlight PA Redistricting Forum
Tues., March 16, 5 pm

In 2021, a handful of politicians will wield power over one of the most consequential and overlooked aspects of our democracy: redrawing Pennsylvania’s political districts. Join Spotlight PA and expert panelists for a discussion about redistricting, gerrymandering, and why it matters to our local communities. RSVP.
Film screening: Line in the Street
Wed., March 17, 6 - 7 pm

Fair Districts PA Philly presents a live screening of sections of "Line in the Street" with community discussion to follow featuring the documentary’s director, Robert Millman. “Line in the Street” tells of citizens, activists and legislators as they fight for redistricting reform in Pennsylvania, one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country, spotlighting a groundbreaking redistricting lawsuit, arguing that state legislators have violated their own state constitution. Watch the trailer and watch the film on Zoom, March 17.
C70 How to Be a Poll Worker Training
Thurs., March 18, 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Philadelphia will need poll workers on Election Day. There are few civic duties more important to our Democracy than staffing polling locations, especially during COVID. Are you seriously considering being a poll worker? Are you willing to work a 15+ hour day, in any neighborhood in the city, no matter the COVID situation? If you answered yes to ALL of these questions, join us to learn more about becoming a poll worker, including the basic responsibilities/functions, and basic processes. RSVP.
Webinar series: The Future of American Elections
March 2 - May 25, 4 pm

Beginning March 2 and running through May 25, join FairVote for a democracy-reform webinar series on ranked-choice voting, “The Future of American Elections.” First up: “What Is Ranked-Choice Voting?” Subsequent webinars will focus on RCV at universities; gerrymandering (what to expect in 2021 and how to avoid it in 2031); the electoral reform imperative to addressing the polarization crisis; RCV movement-building; and the Fair Representation Act. RSVP.
PA Supreme Court Candidate Forum
Wed., March 17, 5 - 6:30 pm

Candidates for Pennsylvania's Supreme Court field questions about their experience and why they seek election to the state’s highest court. Scheduled to appear: Judge Kevin Brobson (R), currently the president judge of PA Commonwealth Court; Judge Maria McLaughlin (D), a judge on the PA Superior Court; and Judge Paula A. Patrick (R), a judge on Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas. The forum is sponsored by Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Philadelphia Bar Association. RSVP.
Philadelphia Bar Association District Attorney Candidates’ Forum
Mon., March 22, 4:30 - 6:30 pm

Philadelphia District Attorney candidates Larry Krasner, Carlos Vega and Charles Peruto, Jr., square off in a forum sponsored by the Philadelphia Bar Association. Incumbent Krasner faces Vega in the May 18 Democratic primary and Peruto is running as a Republican. Moderator Riley Ross, chair of the Bar Association’s Board of Governors, will moderate. RSVP.
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