News & Brews February 25, 2021
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Wolf admin’s ballot wording ‘meant for it to be defeated’
The ballot wording of the proposed constitutional amendment limiting a governor’s emergency powers is the target of extensive criticism, and with good reason. While Gov. Wolf has ruled unilaterally for nearly a year, his administration worded the ballot question to claim the 253 members of the Legislature would have ‘unilateral’ authority to end a disaster declaration “thereby removing the existing check and balance.” Of course, under Gov. Wolf’s rule, there has been neither check nor balance. Democrat Sen. Lisa Boscola (Lehigh and Northampton counties) was among the many who slammed the wording, stating, “The language is disingenuous. It is meant for it to be defeated. The worst thing about it is it creates fear.” Lawmakers held a press conference yesterday exposing the administration’s biased language. You can watch the replay here.
Guess who got raises in 2020 (hint: you paid for it)
PennLive’s Jan Murphy took the annual look at PA’s $100,000 Club—state employees who earned at least six figures last year. While the economy was tanking and Pennsylvanians were facing unemployment, the $100,000 Club grew by 1,586 to reach 11,337 in 2020. Jan’s story is particularly solid in that it provides extensive context to explain the numbers. Our favorite quote in the piece comes from the Commonwealth Foundation’s Nathan Benefield, who highlighted the Wolf administration’s missteps such as unemployment delays, shutting Right to Know offices, etc. and then noted, “It’s hard to believe those raises were merit-based.”
Op-Ed: Why school choice is essential to racial equality
Our friend Lenny McAllister, CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, has an op-ed in USA Today making the case for “why education equity remains the civil rights issue of our time.” McAllister writes, “No pathway for real civic equality for African Americans will exist without a permanent and unthreatened bridge of education equality connecting everyone to the promise of the American dream.” Well said.
PA GOP meets to discus Toomey censure…but doesn’t get far
A five-plus hour meeting of the state Republican Party committee members last night ended without an official vote taken on whether to censure Sen. Pat Toomey for his vote to convict former President Trump. As the media and Democrats (sorry to repeat myself) root for a civil war within the GOP, it is not clear how party committee members will resolve this issue at this time.
Republican, Democrat introduce bill to legalize marijuana in PA
Yesterday, Republican Sen. Dan Laughlin (Erie) and Democrat Sen. Sharif Street (Philadelphia) announced they will soon propose legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in PA. Sen. Laughlin is the first Republican lawmaker to lead such an effort in the state.
Lawmakers propose ‘Gov. Tom Wolf Toll Bridge’
I admit I’m enjoying this one. Since the Wolf administration wants to impose tolls on nine bridges across the state, some lawmakers want to make sure Gov. Wolf gets the credit. To this end, they’re introducing legislation to rename some of the bridges the “Gov. Tom Wolf Toll Bridge.” Hey, if something is such a great idea, be willing to put your name on it, right?
Former PA Health Secretary Levine faces confirmation hearing today
Former PA Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, whom President Biden nominated to be Assistant U.S. Secretary of Health, will appear before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today to face lawmakers’ questions on her qualifications for the office. The Post-Gazette highlights topics that will likely come up, ranging from praise for Dr. Levine’s extensive medical resume to criticism over the state’s vaccine rollout and disastrous nursing home policy.