News & Brews May 5, 2021
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Most COVID restrictions to ease May 31, but…
Yesterday the Wolf administration announced that COVID restrictions, except mandatory masks, would be lifted on May 31. The mask requirement is set to be lifted once 70% of adults are fully vaccinated. Of course, given Wolf’s history of changing metrics, I’m betting this 70% goalpost will move at least three times—twice it will become a new percentage threshold, and then Wolf will eventually get rid it altogether. Who’s taking my bet? And before you get too excited about all this, remember Wolf’s disaster declaration remains in place, so he still claims he has the power to reimpose any restrictions at any time he wants. The only way to change this is to Vote YES on the constitutional amendments on May 18.
Op-Ed: ‘It didn’t have to be this way’
Speaking of the constitutional amendments, House Speaker Bryan Cutler (Lancaster County) writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that much of the devastation of this past year could have been avoided if only Gov. Wolf had worked with the Legislature instead of insisting on his go-it-alone approach. Cutler encourages Pennsylvanians to Vote YES on the two constitutional amendments that would restore accountability and separation of powers.
Did Wolf admin know of contact tracing breach as early as February?
WPXI reports that emails from February suggest the Department of Health may have had knowledge of a potential data breach impacting Pennsylvanians who participated in the state’s contact tracing program run by the vendor Insight Global. News broke last week of a major breach impacting 72,000 Pennsylvanians, and Republican lawmakers have demanded the contract be terminated immediately. Meanwhile, the Wolf administration has yet to hold a public press conference to answer questions on the breach.
And the cost of doing business in PA is…
The non-partisan Tax Foundation has released a 50-state comparison of corporate tax costs, which analyzes “the tax burdens of eight model firms: a corporate headquarters, a research and development facility, a technology center, a data center, a shared services center, a distribution center, a capital-intensive manufacturer, and a labor-intensive manufacturer.” If you love charts, data, and tax figures, you’ll love this report.
Wolf plows ahead on carbon tax plan
The Associated Press reports that yesterday, Gov. Wolf’s administration “solidified its intention to begin imposing a price on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants next year as part of a multi-state consortium, over the protests of coal- and gas-region lawmakers and elements of the energy industry.” Specifically, the Wolf administration issued its final rule for joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. The AP reports that “[t]he rule must still go through two state regulatory boards with veto power, although both are tilted toward Wolf appointees and allies.”
CDC bows to union on school reopening guidance
If anyone still thinks elected officials are following anything but political science, maybe this will help set the record straight. The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board highlights (paywall) the recent revelation that the American Federation of Teachers got the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ignore the real science in favor the union’s political science when it came to drafting school reopening guidelines. Of course, this is hardly surprising given unions gave the Biden campaign far more money than, you know, actual scientists did.
Are cocktails-to-go here to stay?
Every now and again I have to step back and reflect on how ridiculous it is that our government is debating whether a bar can sell takeout cocktails. I mean think about it, really. Is this what our Founding Fathers gathered at the City Tavern in Philly debated over their ale? I think not. But I digress. Yesterday, the House Liquor Control Committee voted in favor of a bill to permanently let bars and restaurants sell up to 64 ounces of cocktails-to-go (because, you know, 65 ounces would be scandalous). Ben Franklin would be proud confused.
On May 18, VoteYesPA to save lives and livelihoods
On May 18, voters can approve two proposed constitutional amendments that would restore a legislative check and balance on Gov. Wolf’s (and any future governor’s) emergency powers. Check out VoteYesPA.com, which has resources including a link to request a mail-in ballot, a VoteYesPA sign you can download and print, a sample email businesses can send encouraging others to vote yes on May 18, and more.