WEATHER: Philadelphia, p.m. thunderstorms, high of 87; Harrisburg, p.m. thunderstorms, high of 87; Pittsburgh, cloudy, high of 89.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* Charter school expansion emerged as a late sticking point in ongoing budget talks that seek to close a $1.3 billion hole in the current spending package, the Inquirer writes.
* Lawmakers are also considering applying the state’s 6 percent sales tax to digital downloads, like apps, music and movies, to plug the budget, the Tribune-Review writes.
* Putting a fine point on PA’s opioid crisis, the DEA announced that drug overdose deaths had increased 23 percent in the state last year, writes the Post-Gazette.
* Environmental groups are pouring $1.8 million into an already flush US Senate race to hammer Republican incumbent Pat Toomey, the Patriot News reports.
* As was widely predicted, Republican Chris Quinn won a special election in Delaware County’s 168th District by about 1,500 votes, writes the Inquirer.
* Fracking opponents are placing hunks of fake poop next to donkey statues installed ahead of the DNC to trash the party’s soft stance on gas extraction, writes State Impact.
* Federal corruption probes have hit rural PA: The borough manager of tiny Union City was fired after the FBI revealed it was investigating $100k in missing funds, the Erie Times-News reports.
* PA will send out over 800 notices to residents whose personal information was stored on government laptops stolen from a rental car, the Morning Call reports.
* Police departments across PA are scrambling to increase diversity among their rank-and-file, sometimes by spending big on consultants, Keystone Crossroads writes.
* Lead levels in Pittsburgh’s water supply exceeded EPA guidelines in May and June, according to a report from the city’s water authority, the Tribune-Review writes.
* Federal food inspectors, accompanied by armed guards, are investigating a tainted milk outbreak at Lancaster-area dairies, writes the Lancaster New Era.
* Bethlehem's long-delayed Museum of Industry, plagued by millions in graft and chronic mismanagement, is finally set to open, writes the Morning Call.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:
* Hillary Clinton’s campaign filed public demonstration permits for a large rally on Independence Mall the day after the DNC wraps, writes the Morning Call.
* Security fears are mounting ahead of the Republican National Convention, after recent outbreaks of racial violence, CNN reports.
* Republicans voted to include Donald Trump’s border wall as part of the party’s RNC platform, Huffington Post reports.
Want a chance to get your brand out in front of NY and PA power brokers and the media? City & State is hosting “Cheesesteak vs. Cheesecake: a New York-Philly Food Fight” during the Democratic National Convention. The event, on Tuesday, July 26, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Union League, will be co-hosted by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who will join a panel of political reporters, food critics and chefs to sample New York and Philadelphia’s most celebrated dishes. Members from NY’s and PA's DNC delegations will be present, as will other high-profile politicos and media figures. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, reach out to David Alpher, firstname.lastname@example.org
* A blistering Tribune-Review editorial calls the PA budget a “fiction,” the work that allowed it to happen “a circus,” and tells voters to “send out the clowns” in November.
* The Standard-Speaker is already calling for revisions and updates to the state’s attempts to modernize wine sales, noting how it is failing to achieve its goals thus far.
* An Inquirer editorial breaks down just how the breakdowns in SEPTA’s Hyundai Rotem rail cars occurred – and warns that the company is in the running for another contract.
* An Inquirer op-ed argues against passage of HB 380, which would significantly shorten the waiting period to establish no-fault grounds for divorce in the state.
* In his Newsworks blog, Dick Polman explains just why it was so wrong – on so many levels – for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to criticize Trump.
* Rivers Casino’s laughable request to change the rules on its slot machine taxes should roll a snake eyes in court, according to the Post-Gazette.
* An Evening Sun op-ed brings to light the shady way that the PA Senate inserted language into a horse-racing bill that strips away regulations on unconventional natural gas and oil drilling in the state.
* The Pocono Record comes out squarely against HB 1774, which would obligate the Attorney General to investigate complaints made by residents of private communities against the owners/operators, since these are clear cases of caveat emptor.
* LancasterOnline’s brutal takedown of the Manheim Township School Board’s efforts to skirt the state’s Sunshine Laws shows just why such laws are needed.
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10 a.m. - Mayor Kenney will introduce the newly appointed head of the Department of Human Services. Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall, Room 202, Philadelphia.
11 a.m. - Mayor Kenney will speak about his support for the DNC Host Committee's local youth engagement programs. DNC Host Committee Headquarters, 1900 Market Street, Atrium, Philadelphia.
2 p.m. - Mayor Kenney, Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell will all be present as the city breaks ground on a series of renovations for the Conestoga Playground. Conestoga Playground, 5200 Media Street, Philadelphia.
No events are scheduled for the PA Senate, PA House, Philadelphia City Council or Gov. Tom Wolf.
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Contact City & State PA Publisher David Alpher at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
KICKER: “No ban on fracking, the Dem platform is crap” – Graffiti sprayed by protesters next to chunks of fake poop scattered across Philadelphia, meant to decry the party’s stance on gas drilling ahead of the DNC. From State Impact.