News & Brews March 2, 2021
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Lawmakers announce investigation into Wolf’s nursing home policy
Yesterday, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (Centre and Mifflin counties) announced the House Oversight Committee will investigate Gov. Wolf’s oversight of nursing homes and long-term care facilities throughout the COVID pandemic. More than half the state’s COVID deaths occurred in these facilities. Joined in the announcement by Rep. Natalie Mihalek (Allegheny and Washington counties), and Rep. Clint Owlett(Tioga, Bradford and Potter counties), Benninghoff stated, “We believe Pennsylvanians deserve better from their government when they are seeking answers as to why something so tragic has occurred and they are not getting answers.”
PA GOP votes to rebuke, but not censure, Toomey
Yesterday, Republican state committee members voted to rebuke Sen. Pat Toomey for his vote to convict former President Trump. The vote fell short of the censure that some committee members wanted. State party chair Lawrence Tabas had opposed the censure in favor of the rebuke and stated, “Let’s get this done, put it behind us and let’s work together to make our PAGOP a better, more inclusive organization that cannot be defeated.”
Wolf eases travel, gathering restrictions, but is his timing suspect?
Yesterday, the Wolf administration announced it’s upping its limits on gathering sizes and eliminating COVID restrictions for out-of-state travel. Of course, we have no idea what data supported any of this to begin with. (We have a pending Right to Know request with the Department of Health for data the administration has been collecting but keeping secret, including data behind travel restrictions. The deadline for DOH to reply to us is this Thursday, March 4. We’ll see if they’re transparent or if they deny the request.) On top of this, we can’t help but think the timing is suspect. You’ll recall Butler v. Wolf, which challenges Wolf’s orders, is on appeal with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. On Feb. 22, the court instructed the parties to submit additional briefs answering several questions, including which of Wolf’s orders are still in effect. The Wolf administration has 14 days from Feb. 22 to reply. How convenient that he’s easing back on some of his orders before he has to respond to the court.
Will PA Senate Dem primary be battle of progressives?
How progressive is progressive enough for progressives? Both Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta–the first two candidates to announce for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate–tout their progressive policies, but they may not be progressive enough for other progressives. Indeed, another progressive, Rep. Summer Lee, says, “We have to fight the urge as a progressive movement to allow all eggs [to] be put in these one or two baskets, especially when neither of those baskets are women, or are women of color.” The Democrat Senate primary may indeed show us it’s not enough to be progressive if you’re not progressive enough.
Restaurant owners hit by Wolf’s orders want to get “off this ride”
PennLive looks at the impact of Gov. Wolf’s unilateral, ever changing, and non-data-backed orders surrounding restaurants and bars, as business owners’ frustrations near the one-year mark. As one owner put it, “We’re not getting any information at all; no conversation between us and the state. What are we going to hit? What’s our magic mark or don’t you even know? Have you not even thought about what mark we need to hit before we let up?”
Wolf’s nominated this man 45 times to state boards in the last 5 months
Here’s a fun one for you. Spotlight PA looks at the man you’ve probably never heard of, whom Gov. Wolf has nominated 45 times since October to serve on various state boards, but only as a placeholder until a “suitable” person is found.