Last updated on February 28, 2021
From The Hill:
Spoiler: Passing laws would indeed make my flags go away.
Just not that one. Let’s do the right things for Pennsylvania. 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️🇺🇸
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) February 24, 2021
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democratic Senate candidate, has replaced the pro-weed and LGBTQ rights flags hanging from his office balcony with bigger ones after lawmakers moved to ban the display.
“Since they passed a law that said I can’t fly my old [LGBT] + weed flags from my office balcony, I figured new, bigger better ones would be legal,” Fetterman said on Twitter along with a photo of the new flags.
Fetterman was referring to a measure that the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania state legislature included in its budget legislation in November that banned the display of any flag other than the American flag, Pennsylvania’s state flag or flag honoring missing American soldiers at the state Capitol or its grounds.
The legislation passed last month, and Fetterman has since been vocal about his intentions to defy the order until state lawmakers legalize marijuana for recreational use or make it illegal for employers to discriminate against someone based on sexual identity and gender orientation.
A bipartisan duo of Pennsylvania senators rolled out a bill on Wednesday that would legalize marijuana in the state. And it’s that bipartisan component that advocates hope will convince the GOP-controlled legislature to advance the policy change.
Sens. Dan Laughlin (R) and Sharif Street (D) are introducing the legislation, which would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis from licensed retailers. The possession limit would be set at 30 grams, and only medical marijuana patients would have an option to cultivate up to five plants at home.
This marks the first time that a Republican legislator in Pennsylvania has sponsored an adult-use legalization bill—a significant factor given that the legislature under GOP control has long resisted legalization. Laughlin says that he’s not necessarily in favor of cannabis use, but he views regulating the market to be “the most responsible approach” to the issue and a superior alternative to criminalization.
By the way, received this e-mail today from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party:
Governor Phil Murphy just signed a bill legalizing adult-use marijuana across New Jersey. Soon, nearly four in ten Pennsylvanians could live a short drive over the river from a legal dispensary in NJ.
That means jobs out-of-state, tax revenue out-of-state, and opportunity out-of-state. It also means that some Pennsylvanians, disproportionately Black Pennsylvanians, could be fined or jailed for the same product they can buy legally by crossing a bridge.
Governor Wolf and state Democrats see it’s time for a change, but the GOP majority is once again stuck in the past. ADD YOUR NAME if you agree Harrisburg Republicans should wake up and work with us to legalize marijuana in PA!
Ashley Gaines-Cannon held a secret until she died.
The girl who had been the star of her high school musical, the valedictorian of a culinary arts school, the mother of four boys, the love of Michael Cannon’s life, died on the floor of her Pittsburgh home from a drug overdose.
It was a surprise to many of her friends, including Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.
John Fetterman posted a message on Twitter three days after she died: “It is with a broken heart that I share the loss of our dear family friend Ashley to the scourge + disease of addiction.”
Overdose deaths are spiking in Pennsylvania, numbers so high that lethal drug consumption may make 2020 the worst year in the state’s history.
“We are expecting 2020 to outpace 2019 and 2018. There’s even a chance we’ll surpass 2017, which was the height of overdose deaths for us,” said Jennifer Smith, secretary of the state’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).
The numbers aren’t all in for 2020, but the trail of evidence sweeps across the United States.
More than 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred between May 2019 and May 2020, “the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period,” according to the CDC. “While overdose deaths were already increasing in the months preceding the 2019 novel coronavirus disease pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic.”
Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman released a study he says shows that life without parole isn’t justified in cases of second-degree murder.
The study comes as Gov. Tom Wolf commuted the life sentences of 13 Pennsylvania inmates on Friday. Among them was 71-year-old Charles Goldblum of Pittsburgh. He was convicted of stabbing a man to death, but lingering questions remain about his guilt or innocence.
Fetterman says it serves no purpose for Goldblum to remain behind bars.
“When someone served 45 years of their lives, he was wheelchair-bound when interviewed,” Fetterman said. “He’s not a threat to public safety. At that point, when does justice become vengeance?”
Fetterman keeps making headlines as he gears up for his U.S. Senate run. Here’s a snippet from his interview in Gizmodo regarding signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge:
Molly Taft, Earther: I’m checking the records and it looks like there’s actually only 10 sitting U.S. senators who signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. All of them were already in office when they signed it, and most of them are from pretty solidly blue states, like New York, without a strong fossil fuel industry presence. Running for Senate, it’s really expensive, and you’re from a state with a heck of a lot of fracking money floating around, and you’re facing some potential opponents who have made no bones about maybe taking that money. What do you stand to gain and what do you stand to lose from this pledge? Are you worried about how it might impact how you’re going to run your campaign?
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman: Thank you for noticing and saying that. I’m not trying to blow smoke, but no one has ever phrased that like that. It’s the minority of U.S. senators that take this pledge or care about this pledge. And it’s always in slam dunk states like New York where [fracking] is banned, for example. Like, oh, good. You signed the pledge in New York—that’s a profile in courage.
I want to point out that as long as this pledge has existed, I’ve signed it. I didn’t take any money in my first race, signed it in my second race in 2018 because that’s the first time that it existed. This was never up for debate in this one because I would never want anyone to believe that any view or vote that I have is because I’ve been given money.
I conduct my campaign with the utmost integrity and belief in the supremacy of the small dollar donor. If some of my other opponents take fossil fuel money, that’s up to them, but it’s just how I’ve always conducted myself.
He also sat down with Grist to talk about his record on green job solutions:
My Senate testimony on the Waxman / Markey Bill, July 7th, 2009.
25 years later, I’ve found being on right side of history is often the right side of history. https://t.co/O6mRjSTwGU
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) February 20, 2021
Q. Where did the green-jobs idea come from? What was the inspiration for your work on that?
A. Braddock and Pittsburgh need to continually be progressive and advance that frontier. That’s something that I’ve always been involved in and believed in strongly. Urban agriculture, for example. Braddock has this enormously large inventory of vacant lots. What’s the best way to marry the needs of the community with the realities we have in town?
We have kids that don’t have summer jobs. We don’t have any grocery stores in town, and we’ve got this large number of lots. Well, let’s build a small-scale urban farm. That way we create jobs. We create fresh organic produce. We use and beautify a lot that looked like it was a research-and-development lab for different weeds — they were waist high! It serves the community, and also does it in a way that is consistent with a sustainable, more progressive lifestyle. So from my perspective it’s a win-win.
It’s not a matter of having this fetish saying, I compost, so I can pat myself on the back. It’s saying what can we do as a community that improves the quality of life for our residents — and that we’re able to do it in a way that’s sustainable and adheres to these principles, that’s just icing on the cake.
Q. Tell me more about the green-jobs summer program in Braddock. What kind of projects are young people working on?
A. Well, it started when I took office, and this summer we hired close to 100 kids. [They’re] working on the urban farm, creating a green space. Prior to us taking over, our community did not have a green spot for children to frolic, people to just kind of relax. So we have that now. We got a grant from the Heinz Endowment, which is a major local foundation, and we’re working on installing the first green roof in the area too. This is the last building of its kind, an eight-story building, that if we didn’t put a new roof on it eventually, it would go under. So we said, OK, we can put it as a green roof.
That’s the recurring theme for us in Braddock — it has to work with the framework we’re in. It’s not green at the expense of Braddock, it’s what’s right for Braddock, and thankfully I think it drives home why a lot of these principles really do make sense and it’s not just a bunch of “weird treehuggers” who care about these things. They are important principles not only for the environment but for helping communities as well.
We started [the green-jobs program] in 2006, with a limited number, and we scaled it up. It was 35 the first year, 50 the second, 70 last year, and now it’s 100. And each year we’ve had completion rates well into the 90s. And this year, again, it was 100 percent. I know that’s hard to believe. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it myself. None of the corresponding stereotypes of bad movies that star white folks that come in and change a poor school — we didn’t have the fighting, none of these things.
Continuing to hit back at the Pennsylvania GOP in this:
Penn. Lt. Gov. Fetterman on SCOTUS: "Apparently losing once in Pennsylvania wasn’t enough for Trump, so he decided to take it to court and lose 68 more times … The former President is not leaving empty handed, as he secured 100% of the dead relative vote in the commonwealth."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2021
People Magazine also had a great profile out on Fetterman and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman, and their family that’s worth a read:
He has an unabashed progressive record — on gay marriage, healthcare and marijuana legalization — in a purple state, something his opponents have already noted. And this month John and his aides spoke out to again explain a 2013 incident in which he was armed with a shotgun to detain an unarmed Black jogger whom he suspected was involved in a shooting near his home. (Police did not arrest the man.) John has insisted race was not a factor and said it was a “split-second decision” made out of safety concerns.Another Senate run will bring a brighter spotlight and more scrutiny and, John hopes, more success for his vision for Pennsylvania.“I want to continue to contribute on a different or larger stage,” John says. “My political beliefs and core values and principles haven’t changed really at all … I believe in paying people a living wage, I believe in personal freedoms for things like marijuana, I believe in unions, I believe in economic development in communities that deserve it.”His wife has her own work tied to her story as an immigrant from Brazil. Last year, she spoke out about an altercation in which a woman harassed her at the grocery store over her ethnicity.
A proponent of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Fetterman took a shot at moderate Democratic senators who have balked at the wage hike included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, and dismissed Biden flirting with negotiating a longer phase-in for the hike.
- “You’re to the right of Hobby Lobby if you don’t support $15,” Fetterman told Power Up in an interview on Wednesday afternoon. “Hobby Lobby recognized that you got to pay people $15 an hour. So if Hobby Lobby gets it, and you don’t as a Democrat, what’s your problem, you know?”
- “The government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing a business by allowing people to be paid starvation wages,” Fetterman added, calling the issue “one of the great moral debates of our time.”
Malcolm Kenyatta, a 30-year-old state representative from Philadelphia who has gained national exposure with regular appearances on MSNBC, joined the race, declaring in an announcement video: “Government hasn’t worked for working families like mine. I know what it’s like to see an eviction notice, to work a minimum-wage job.”
The Democratic field already includes Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who announced his candidacy last week. Other well-known Democrats are sizing up a run, including Representatives Conor Lamb and Chrissy Houlahan, and Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh.
After President Biden carried Pennsylvania in November, the Senate seat is the No. 1 pickup opportunity for Democrats in the country. The primary will take place in the spring of 2022.
Mr. Kenyatta, a community activist from North Philadelphia who was organizing before he was a teenager, won his first statehouse race in 2018. He was a trailblazer as an openly gay Black candidate in Pennsylvania. Though he has far less experience than Mr. Fetterman — who served four terms as mayor of Braddock, outside Pittsburgh, before winning statewide office — Mr. Kenyatta has been buzzed about among progressives.
But Fetterman has been picking up big endorsements:
More news coming soon. Click below to donate and get involved with Fetterman’s campaign or Kenyatta’a campaign and click below to donate and get involved with these Pennsylvania Democrats campaigns:
- John Fetterman
- Malcolm Kenyatta
- Brian Sims for Lt. Governor
- Pennsylvania Democratic Party
- Conor Lamb
- Matt Cartwright
- Susan Wild
- Chrissy Houlahan
- Madeleine Dean
- Dwight Evans
- Mike Doyle
- Mary Gay Scanlon
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