News & Brews February 10, 2021

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After abysmal vaccine launch, Wolf discovers the Legislature

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf announced his intention to work with lawmakers via a new COVID vaccine joint task force to deal with the debacle of his administration’s vaccine rollout. The task force will include Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam, PEMA Director Randy Padfield, Sens. Art Haywood (D) and Ryan Aument (R) and Reps. Bridget Kosierowski (D) and Tim O’Neal (R). In his statement, Wolf said, “We have a good working relationship with our legislators, and we know they are the eyes, ears and voices for Pennsylvanians. The feedback they receive from their local communities is extremely important, particularly as the commonwealth continues to improve upon this once-in-a-generation vaccine rollout.” This sudden discovery of the Legislature is encouraging given Wolf’s unilateral rule over the past 11 months when he neglected to consult with the “eyes, ears and voices for Pennsylvanians” before shutting down the economy and putting millions of people out of work.

Wolf repeats call for minimum wage hike

Yesterday at a press conference, Gov. Wolf repeated his call for an increase in the government-mandated minimum wage. When a reporter said she’d talked with mom & pop shop owners who were concerned that such a mandate would force them to lay off workers, Wolf replied, “There’s a great deal of formal economic literature that says that simply doesn’t happen.” Perhaps the mom & pop shop owners haven’t read all the formal literature because, you know, they’re trying to figure out how to keep workers employed. You can watch the whole press conference here, which also includes a call from one business owner for other business owners to “buck up”. (Both these gems start at around the 19 minute mark.)

Allegheny restaurant seeks stay of court ruling while fighting Wolf’s orders

The owner of the Crack’d Egg in Brentwood has requested a stay of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge John McVay’s ruling ordering the restaurant to comply with Wolf’s COVID mandates or close. Owner Kimberly Waigand is appealing McVay’s ruling to Commonwealth Court, pointing to the federal ruling last year by District Judge William Stickman that found Gov. Wolf’s orders unconstitutional. Wolf appealed, and that case is pending in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. (As an update on that one, the court has said the case will be scheduled when briefing is complete. To quote Gov. Wolf, I’m not a lawyer, but I believe all briefs were filed as of late January.)

Op-Ed: Voters to have their say on emergency declarations

Rep. Clint Owlett (Tioga, Potter, and Bradford counties) had an op-ed in the Center Square on the upcoming opportunity Pennsylvania voters will have at the ballot box to rein in unchecked executive powers and ensure the Legislature must approve any extension of a governor’s emergency disaster declaration after the initial 21 days.

State will not appeal court’s rejection of Marsy’s Law

The Wolf Administration will not appeal the Commonwealth Court’s ruling that the proposed constitutional amendment known as “Marsy’s Law” is unconstitutional as it included too many changes, in violation of the requirement that each proposed amendment be voted on separately. The amendment would have added 15 victims’ rights to our state constitution. Voters passed it overwhelmingly in 2019, but the ACLU and League of Women Voters had sued to stop it from taking effect. While Wolf is staying out of the appeal, Attorney General Josh Shapiro “intends to weigh in with the court” as the case progresses, his spokesperson said.

Fetterman’s senate run puts his gun-pulling incident in spotlight

The Inquirer reports that in light of his announced U.S. Senate run, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is again defending his decision to pull a gun on an unarmed Black man in 2013. Fetterman, who at the time said he believed he did the right thing although he admitted he “may have broken the law during the course of it,” says he “made a split-second decision to intervene for the safety and protection of my community.”  Not surprisingly, not everyone is satisfied with his explanation.

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