News & Brews May 17, 2021

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PA Turnpike Commission: Major decisions, lots of secrecy?

Over the past five years, PA Turnpike commissioners have cast more than 700 votes to spend taxpayer dollars, but the average length of the meetings has been just 12 minutes,raising the question of whether major decisions are being made at public meetings with debate or whether the real decisions happen long before, in conversations hidden from public view. The Post-Gazette investigates.

PA ending extension of unemployment benefits

Acting Secretary of Labor Jennifer Berrier announced on Friday that the state would be ending a program providing an additional 13 weeks of jobless benefits. The program kicks in when the state’s insured unemployment rate hits 5%. Berrier said the rate recently fell below that threshold. Individuals will still be able to receive unemployment under a federal program set to expire the week ending September 4.

Investigators probing potential kickbacks, bribery in PSERS

Spotlight PA reports that federal investigators looking into our state’s largest pension fund “are looking for evidence of kickbacks or bribery as they explore why the plan exaggerated investment returns and spent heavily to amass real estate in Harrisburg.”

Barletta enters race for governor

Former Congressman Lou Barletta has officially announced his bid for the Republican nomination for governor. Thus far, the only other Republican officially to declare is Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale. The Post-Gazette reports that others seriously considering entering are former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and Rep. Dan Meuser.

Our primary endorsements

In addition to encouraging Pennsylvanians to Vote YES tomorrow on the three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, we are endorsing the Republican judicial ticket led by Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson for state Supreme Court. This ticket also includes Chester County Attorney Megan Sullivan for Superior Court, and McKean County Attorney Stacy Wallace and Judge Drew Crompton for Commonwealth Court. Click here for a two-page guide to our endorsements.

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 for resources including a VoteYesPA sign you can download and print, a sample email businesses can send encouraging others to vote yes on May 18, and more.

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