News & Brews March 16, 2021

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Wolf to ease some restrictions

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf announced he would ease some COVID restrictions, including expanding capacity to 75% for restaurants that self-certify (and 50% for those that don’t), allowing alcohol service without food purchases, allowing restaurants to resume bar service and sell alcohol after 11pm, and expanding capacity to 25% max occupancy for indoor events and 50% occupancy for outdoor events. Wolf’s new rules go into effect April 4 (because…science?). While the easing of restrictions is good news, before you get too excited, remember that Wolf continues to claim unilateral power and he could easily reimpose restrictions at any time. Now’s not the time to thank him but the time to remind him what form of government we have. Voters can do this on May 18 by voting in favor of two constitutional amendments that protect lives and livelihoods while restoring a legislative check and balance on Wolf’s powers.

Business owners say Wolf’s latest allowances aren’t enough

PennLive reports that Wolf’s easing of some restrictions yesterday “wasn’t met … with the kind of widespread rejoicing you might have expected within many of Pennsylvania’s long-suffering entertainment and recreation business sectors.” And really, who can blame them? Wolf’s orders have wreaked havoc on these industries, and Wolf’s latest announcement doesn’t bring them anywhere near where they need to be to recover.

Conor Lamb’s political future?

He said he would consider running for U.S. Senate. He could basically get redistricted out of his seat. All in all, the Associated Press calls Rep. Conor Lamb’s political future “murky”. The piece goes beyond Lamb, though, to look at how the Democrat party as a whole is trying (or not trying) to appeal to voters in southwestern PA.

Dems select candidate for 48th Senate district special election

Democrats have selected retired veterinarian Dr. Calvin “Doc” Clements as their nominee to run in the May 18 special election to fill the 48th district state Senate seat (Lebanon, Dauphin, and York counties). The seat was left vacant following the death of Sen. Dave Arnold in January. Earlier this month, Republicans selected Lebanon County businessman Christopher Gebhard as their nominee in what will be a three-way race with Libertarian Tim McMaster also joining the contest.

Lawmakers start emergency path to aid victims of child sex abuse

Yesterday, lawmakers began the rarely used emergency process to amend the state constitution. If the amendment succeeds, it would expand the window during which victims of child sex abuse can file lawsuits. The move comes after Gov. Wolf’s Department of State botched its responsibility to advertise the proposed amendment, thereby derailing it. If the emergency amendment passes the Legislature with two-thirds approval, it could head to the ballot for voters’ consideration.

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