News & Brews March 24, 2021

Get News & Brews in your inbox each day: Subscribe here!

PA Human Services Secretary announces resignation

Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller announced yesterday she’s resigning her post in the Wolf administration and moving to Kansas to become president and CEO of the Kansas Health Foundation. Her resignation takes effect April 30. Recently, Miller appeared before lawmakers to defend the administration’s $941 million in overspending in her agency. Wolf is nominating his secretary of policy and planning, Meg Snead, to take Miller’s place.

Senate lawmakers demand answers on Wolf’s nursing home policy

Yesterday, Sen. John Yudichak and Sen. Judy Ward led a press conference highlighting Gov. Wolf’s “lack of accountability … when it comes to orders and the handling of long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Yudichak and Ward, joined by other Senate members, Zach Shamberg of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, and Brad Swidler, who lost his father in a nursing facility, renewed their calls for Gov. Wolf’s Department of Health to answer for its policy requiring nursing homes to accept COVID positive patients. You can watch the full press conference here.

Committee advances bill to limit political ties of redistricting commission chair

The Senate State Government Committee yesterday unanimously approved a bill (SB441), that would limit the political ties of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission chair. The commission is made up of two Republican and two Democrat lawmakers, with the fifth member–the chair–being chosen by the other four. If they can’t agree, the Supreme Court selects the chair. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dave Argall, would implement the following requirements for the chair: Voted in two of the last three elections; Not registered (or has a spouse registered) as a lobbyist the past five years; Not been nominated (or has a spouse nominated) as a candidate the past five years; Not served (or has a spouse) as staff or officer of a political party the past five years, and; Has not served (or has a spouse) as staff of an elected official the past five years.

Op-Ed: PA voters must curb governor’s emergency powers

Sen. Bob Mensch (Berks, Bucks, and Montgomery counties) had an op-ed in the Norristown Times-Herald urging Pennsylvania to vote yes on the proposed constitutional amendments reining in a governor’s emergency powers. Regarding the wording of the amendments on the ballot–wording that’s drawn fierce criticism for its bias–Mensch writes, “I find it disheartening that Gov. Wolf, his administration, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who approves the wording of the amendment, have proven incapable of performing that one simple task without attempting to subvert this process for political gain.” Indeed.

Butler v. Wolf: The latest

On Monday, Butler County submitted its reply to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the ongoing case (Butler v. Wolf) challenging Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders and limits on gatherings. The court had asked: 1) Of the orders challenged in this litigation, which order(s) remain in force and effect? 2) Regarding the orders no longer in force and effect, how and when did this occur? 3) What are the legal consequences of these developments? Have the issues before this Court changed? In its response, Butler County notes that even if some orders are currently “suspended,” Wolf has claimed the right to implement them again at any time. The county argues, “The issues before the Court have not changed as Defendants continue to assert the unfettered right to impose restrictions that Defendants believe, in their own unchallenged opinion, are appropriate.” (You can read the Wolf administration’s response to these same questions here.)

A picture is worth…a 46% tax hike? 

And lastly, Rep. David Rowe (Snyder and Union counties) has a Facebook post worth sharing. After Pennsylvania schools are set to receive billions of dollars (yes, billions) from the federal government, why again does Gov. Wolf want a 46% tax hike to fund schools?

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox