Thursday, June 29, 2006

A rare morning post

Top Thursday stories, before I get buried in other stuff that needs doing:
  • Flooding: Um, it's been raining a whole lot. Rivers rising, neighborhoods flooding, evacuations and sludge, possibly more to come. You've probably noticed. An anecdotal account here, and lots of blogging and citizen journalism summarized here.

  • Our busy legislators:

    • A bipartisan group in the state House is proposing a raft of reform measures intended to restore public trust, ranging from bans on votes in the wee hours of the night, to term limits for leadership seats, to making their business subject to sunshine laws. Also included are hat-tips to back-benchers, such as making sure that at least one bill submitted by any legislator gets a vote, at least in committee. Some of these ideas can be made as House rule changes, while others will require legislation to be negotiated in the fall. I wish them luck. Dan at YPP notes that eliminating midnight votes is less important that being sure that the public gets a chance to weigh in before legislation gets rushed to a vote, something not really addressed in this package of reforms.

    • After weeks of negotiation, a tentative budget agreement has been reached. If they manage a vote by tomorrow, it will be the first budget completed under deadline in several years. Some detail of compromises given here.

    • A Daily News opinion piece bewails the prospects for lobbyist regulation; although both state houses have passed a measure, chances of combining them before the legislative term ends appear bleak.

    • Continuing the theme of their odd sense of priorities, the state House yesterday added to their record a bill making English the official language of Pennsylvania. I presume that their next crusade will be taking on the non-epidemic of flag-burning...

  • Schools:

    • There's a story about a $25 million line item for the Philadelphia school system that had been in the state budget, then was removed, and might be restored. Not sure how to resolve this with the mish-mash of details in the budget story, so probably we'll know more once things are finalized. Much featuring of Reps. Evans and Perzel at the barricades...

    • What are the future prospects of school system czar Paul Vallas? Apparently his original 5-year contract expires in 2007. He'd like it extended to 2008, and the school board hems and haws. Not clear to me whether they'd prefer to resign him for another complete term, or are considering new blood despite the fact that many of his ideas are just getting off the ground.


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