News & Brews February 8, 2021

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By demanding unilateral rule, Wolf invites unilateral blame

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Wolf administration is facing questions and criticisms surrounding joblessness and vaccine distribution. Some lawmakers are pointing out that since Gov. Wolf has refused to consult with the Legislature throughout the pandemic and instead has demanded unilateral rule, the blame for the administration’s failures throughout the pandemic fall squarely on Wolf’s shoulders.

Voters not swayed by $$ in PA’s down-ballot races?

More than $80 million was spent on our state-level races last year, with Democrats outspending Republicans, but did it make a huge difference? The Lancaster LNP says that the election outcome — where Democrats failed to flip the Legislature and Republicans “dominated” down-ballot races — suggests money may not have been as powerful as some may think.

Fetterman officially announces Senate candidacy

To no one’s surprise as he’s been publicly moving in the direction, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Fetterman is already sitting on at least $1.4 million in campaign cash, but that doesn’t mean he’s a shoo-in for the Democrat nomination. As one example, on Friday, a campaign spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (Chester County) said she is “seriously considering” a run for Senate. In November, the Delaware Valley Journal warned Democrats not to overlook Houlahan, who had $3 million cash on hand at that time.

Wolf signs $912 million pandemic relief bill

On Friday, Gov. Wolf signed a $912 million pandemic relief bill that was passed unanimously by both chambers of the Legislature. The AP reports that $145 million of this “will be available through counties in grants of up to $50,000 for bars, restaurants and hotels, although industry representatives say the cash won’t reach many of the 30,000 such businesses that remain under pandemic restrictions in Pennsylvania. It also won’t replace much lost revenue in a state where restaurants did about $27 billion in annual sales before the pandemic.”

Op-Ed: PennDOT should look elsewhere for money, trucking industry pays enough

Joe Butzer, the interim president of the PA Motor Truck Association, has an op-ed in PennLive opposing PennDOT’s plan to toll interstate bridges across the commonwealth. Butzer writes that over the past eight years, the cost of operating a single truck for 100,000 miles has risen $7,452.13 per year to an eye-popping $18,090.91. He concludes the trucking industry has paid its fair share, and PennDOT should look elsewhere for funding.

Dem nominee selected for special election

Democrats have selected Ligonier Councilwoman Mariah Fisher as their nominee for the special election to fill the 59th House District seat left vacant with the sudden passing of Rep. Mike Reese last month. Republicans have not yet announced their nominee, although several candidates have expressed interest, including Reese’s wife Angela, Republican Leslie Baum Rossi (owner of the well-known Trump House), and Ligonier Valley Police Officer Shawn Knepper. The district includes parts of Westmoreland and Somerset counties, and the special election will be held on May 18 (the same day as the primary election).

Some restaurants continue defying Wolf’s orders

PennLive looks at why several restaurants are continuing to defy Gov. Wolf’s restrictions, concluding that the reasons range from political to survival. Laughably, the piece states as fact that “Wolf has been sympathetic to the restaurant industry,” a statement akin to labeling as sympathetic tossing a puppy off a cliff then throwing him half a bone.

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