News & Brews April 1, 2021

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Lawmakers question location of PPE stockpile

The state is currently storing $51 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the state Farm Show Complex. Not only is the stockpile preventing the use of the complex, but it’s also prompting lawmakers to ask whether it’s wise to store this equipment in a flood zone without adequate protection from the elements (or from people walking in and out). ABC27’s Dennis Owens has more.

Lawmakers aim to prevent selective private funding of elections

Last year, eyebrows raised as the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life gave money to select counties to ‘help’ with elections, prompting a lawsuit alleging the grants favored Democrats over Republicans. Now, Reps. Eric Nelson (Westmoreland County), Clint Owlett (Tioga, Bradford, and Potter counties), and Jim Struzzi (Indiana County) plan to introduce legislation that would “ensure equitable distribution and transparency of private funding grants for Pennsylvania’s elections.” You can read their cosponsorship memo here.

Some local drama on the Fetterman senate bid

From the “not likely to make a difference but still interesting” files, the Post-Gazette reports that the current mayor of Braddock has opted not to endorse her predecessor, John Fetterman, for Senate. Instead, Mayor Chardaé Jones is backing Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta in the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, remember the unarmed Black jogger on whom Fetterman pulled a gun in 2013? The Inquirer reports that while he thinks Fetterman “lied about everything,” that shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a senator.

State says all adults will be eligible for vaccines by April 19

Yesterday, the state Department of Health announced that COVID vaccine eligibility will expand to include all adults by April 19. This was quickly followed by questions on whether “eligibility” equals “availability.” To this, Acting Secretary of State Alison Beam noted, “It is important to remember that eligibility does not guarantee an immediate vaccination appointment. Vaccine providers are ready and eager to get a shot in the arm of every person who wants one while we continue to aggressively advocate for more vaccine.”

About that DOH v. SEPA vaccine battle

Here’s yet another example of how the Wolf administration has refused to listen to local leaders…only to end up backing down from its “we’re right because we said so” approach. For weeks, southeast PA counties have been frustrated with Wolf’s vaccine distribution plan for SEPA, including DOH’s insistence on establishing a mass vaccination site despite counties explaining that they’re better equipped to distribute the vaccine. (You’ll recall Wolf recently claimed the state was doing a “phenomenal” job, even as reporters asked why Wolf wouldn’t listen to counties.) Well, yesterday the Dep’t of Health announced it’s abandoning its plans for two mass vaccination sites, and SEPA counties will end up getting what they asked for. Really, it doesn’t have to be this hard.

Comisac: Oppose ‘vaccine passports’ to protect liberty

Thanks to for permission to post and share this great piece by Bureau Chief Chris Comisac, noting that this past year “has shown how quickly our federal, state and local government officials can take away things by way of emergency powers in the name of ‘safety.'” Comisac reminds us that when it comes to proposed vaccine passports, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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