Picture of the Philadelphia skyline.
Dec 3, 2021

Axios Philadelphia

🛍 Happy Friday! If you haven't started holiday shopping yet, you're officially late.

☀️ Today's weather: Mostly sunny with highs in the upper 40s.

Situational awareness: The Philadelphia City Council passed legislation Thursday mandating funeral homes to provide families of the deceased with information about transferring their home titles.

Today's newsletter is 941 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The influences of Roe ruling in Pennsylvania
Data: Myers Abortion Facility Database on OSF; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Abortion will remain legal in Pennsylvania, up to about 24 weeks, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. But protections are still vulnerable.

Driving the news: The nation's high court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case over Mississippi's law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The big picture: The Supreme Court's decision could potentially overturn the 1973 ruling that set the precedent for a constitutional right to abortion.

  • Without Roe, abortion laws vary by state, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports. Abortion would immediately become illegal in 12 states, none of which are located in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region.

Zoom in: Pennsylvania isn't one of the 15 states with laws explicitly legalizing abortion, but it does have a long list of patchwork abortion restrictions.

  • Pennsylvania bans abortions after 24 weeks. If Roe v. Wade is reversed, the state legislature could create a more restrictive law and send it to the governor to sign.

Between the lines: Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto any bills that come to his desk aiming to restrict abortion access. He's shut down three so far.

  • However, Pennsylvania has a Republican-controlled legislature, and the term-limited governor's seat is up for grabs next year.
  • Having both Republican-controlled executive and legislative branches would likely change the dynamics, potentially allowing for stricter laws to be enacted faster.

What they're saying: "I remain committed to do everything in my power to protect these rights for the rest of my term," Wolf said.

  • Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who's running for governor next year, called this case an attempt to "rob women of their constitutional right to control their own bodies."
  • Shapiro filed an amicus brief with several other states arguing Mississippi's law is unconstitutional.

The other side: Former Republican congressman and governor hopeful Lou Barletta told Axios in a statement that he hopes SCOTUS upholds the Mississippi law.

  • "As Americans, we should do all that we can to protect the most vulnerable, and that should include unborn children," he said.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate are trying to amend Pennsylvania's constitution to clarify that there's no right to an abortion.

What to watch: The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the summer of 2022.

Full story

2. (Some) streeteries could be permanent

A scene of Rouge's streetery in Rittenhouse Square from September. Photo courtesy of Rouge

Restaurant streeteries that popped up during the pandemic can remain permanent fixtures in Philly — but only in some areas of the city.

Driving the news: City Council passed a bill on Thursday that allows restaurants to continue operating outdoor dining service on street parking spaces in broad swaths of the city.

  • That includes Center City, Fishtown, Main Street in Manayaunk, Old City and East Passyunk, among others.

Yes, but: Restaurants and other businesses outside of those pre-selected areas must get approval for a streetery through legislation, which means winning the support of their district legislator.

Flashback: Philly began offering temporary permits for sidewalk cafes and streeteries in response to the coronavirus pandemic last year.

  • The city has issued 780 permits for sidewalk cafes and streeteries during the pandemic, said city Department of Licenses and Inspections spokesperson Karen Guss.

Between the lines: The outdoor dining options became lifelines for restaurants, which allowed them to offer in-person dining when COVID restrictions were in effect.

What they're saying: Councilmember Allan Domb, the main sponsor of the bill who had initially proposed to make streeteries permanent citywide, worked with Council President Darrell Clarke on the newly approved legislation.

  • Clarke told Axios that streeteries in some areas have led to limited parking and raised accessibility issues.
  • "There were significant swaths of residential communities where these things simply don't work," he said.

Of note: Council members also passed legislation that allows the sidewalk cafe permits issued during the pandemic to remain in place through 2022.

  • City approvals for outdoor dining streeteries and cafes would have expired at the end of the year.

What's next: The legislation will go to Mayor Jim Kenney for his signature or veto.

3. News Market

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🏘 Complaints about broken streetlights have tripled — up to 3,000 a month — after the city let a light-maintenance contract lapse in June. In one case last month, broken streetlights hindered a homicide investigation. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

💵 Philadelphians were able to get more Hurricane Ida aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency than any other county in the state. (WHYY)

📺 "Dr. Oz" got pulled from TV stations in Philly, New York City and Cleveland after announcing his run as a Republican for a Pennsylvania Senate seat. (NBC Philadelphia)

4. What to do this weekend

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

🕺 The new Visit Philadelphia Holiday Parade — which runs from 2nd and Market streets to City Hall — will kick off at 5pm on Saturday.

  • Expect balloons, marching bands, floats and dance groups, all celebrating the winter holidays.

🍻 Bring out your tacky holiday gear for The Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl this Saturday. Tickets run between $22.99-$39.99.

🎁 Buy gifts, baked goods and holiday deli items at this weekend's Luciafest & Christmas Market at the American Swedish Historical Museum. Admission is $5 for non-members 12 years old and up.

💡 Parade of Lights at the Independence Seaport Museum will offer a day of activities Saturday. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for children.

  • The day ends around 5:15pm with a procession of working boats decked out in holiday lights on the Delaware River, which is free.
5. 1 pic to go: Rising sun over Billy Penn

Billy Penn standing atop City Hall as the sun rises. Photo courtesy of Jake Malin

Billy Penn never looked so good standing atop City Hall.

  • This photo concludes our final newsletter of the week. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you bright and early on Monday!

🎅 Mike is looking forward to taking his toddler to see Santa for the first time this weekend.

😋 Taylor is craving a coffee cake muffin from The Monkey & The Elephant cafe.

Editor's note: Story 2 has been corrected to reflect that Councilmember Allan Domb was the main sponsor of the newly approved streeteries bill.