News & Brews March 3, 2021

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PA Labor Secretary says 500K jobs lost, doesn’t know why (ummm)

Testifying before lawmakers yesterday, Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry Jennifer Berrier said Pennsylvania lost 500,000 jobs during the COVID pandemic, dropping from 6.1 million jobs to 5.6 million jobs. Here’s the kicker, Berrier then said, “We don’t know the reason why they’re lost.” Really? We’ve got some business shutdown orders from Gov. Wolf that might give a hint. Watch her comments here.

Op-Ed: Wolf’s pot-push is good politics (since his policies are so bad)

Lately, Gov. Wolf has intensified his calls to legalize recreational marijuana. Our president and CEO Matt Brouillette has an op-ed explaining why this is actually a politically savvy move on Wolf’s part. After all, given his disastrous policies over the past year, what else would Wolf want to draw attention to? Read more here.

Odd coalition announces ‘help’ for restaurants and bars

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf announced at a press conference that bars and restaurants can soon apply for new state grants through the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program. Here’s the irony: Among those speaking at the press conference were: Wolf, who ordered the business shutdowns; Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, who oversaw the chaotic and unfair business waiver program, and Democrat State Rep. Marty Flynn, who promised to “make it personal” against any business who disagreed with the shutdown orders. Perhaps we’d be more convinced by their “we’re here to help” spin if they hadn’t decimated businesses to begin with.

Teachers to get vaccine under new plan Wolf will release today

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf said he would be announcing a new vaccine plan today that directs the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine to teachers, school workers, and child care workers not covered in the current vaccine phase. Capitolwire (paywall) explains the change as follows: “Plenty of lobbying by teachers’ unions and others appears to have done the trick as Gov. Tom Wolf indicated Tuesday – and will formally announce Wednesday – that school teachers and other school staff will be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccinations. Teachers and other school personnel in the state’s vaccination plan had been included in the Phase 1B category as all the available science suggests that there’s no need for all school personnel to be vaccinated before teachers return, in person, to the classroom.”

Dem lawmaker: Wolf’s vaccine distribution is ‘government at its lowest’

Democrat Rep. Mike Zabel (Delaware County) took to the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer to criticize the Wolf administration’s COVID vaccine distribution to date, calling it “inefficient, inadequate, and inequitable” and “government at its lowest.”He argues, “At minimum, Pennsylvania must establish a statewide registry for vaccinations, through which every phase eligible Pennsylvanian can be assured that when an appointment becomes available, they will be contacted and their vaccination promptly scheduled.” Zabel isn’t alone, as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been critical of the state’s vaccine rollout (actually, we can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been critical of it).

Is Gaming Board ‘landing ground for the politically connected’?

Shortly after losing his re-election bid last year, former House Minority Leader Frank Dermody was appointed to the state’s Gaming Control Board, a position that comes with a $145,000 taxpayer funded salary (more than his nearly $131,000 salary as Leader). Spotlight PA takes a look at another recent appointment to the board–the wife of a state senator--and questions the role of political connections in landing this gig.

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