News & Brews May 27, 2021

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Report: Wolf administration’s ‘internal systemic failures’ 

Earlier this year, the Department of State failed their duty to advertise a constitutional amendment providing legal recourse for victims of child sex abuse in Pennsylvania. As a result, the amendments could not appear on the May ballot and the two-year process has to start anew. Yesterday, a report from the Office of State Inspector General found that “internal systemic failures”—not “intentional malfeasance”—caused this massive failure. Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar resigned, as was widely publicized, and state officials revealed yesterday that the department’s head of legislative affairs also resigned, but did not disclose if it was related to this mistake. Republicans were far from satisfied from the report and the revelations of poor communication, leadership, and training in the department. Rep. Jim Gregory (R – Blair), a survivor of child sexual abuse, expressed outrage that, “resignations were accepted—but nobody was fired… That’s unconscionable to me, unconscionable to victims.” Read more from Spotlight PA.

Eschewing Pa. Supreme Court ruling, Philly to count undated mail ballots

Approximately 1,300 undated mail ballots from last Wednesday’s primary will be counted by Philadelphia election officials. Though the ballots aren’t expected to change the outcome of any races, the decision by the Philadelphia City Commissioners defies a state Supreme Court ruling from last year to reject undated mail ballots after the November 2020 elections. Republican Al Schmidt voted against counting the ballots while the two Democrat commissioners voted in favor of counting, a somewhat unusual non-unanimous decision for the commissioners. The Philadelphia Inquirer explains the ruling, differing county policies regarding mail ballots, and interviews the commissioners here.

Cocktails to-go to stay?

Last year, Pennsylvania began to allow struggling restaurants to sell cocktails to-go as a temporary measure to provide revenue in an otherwise crippling time for many in the industry. Now, the state House has passed a bill that would permanently allow bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks to-go. “[It’s] something so simple that it makes you wonder why licensed establishments couldn’t do this before,” Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association, told PennLive.

Feud between lawmakers casts scrutiny on Boyle bros. finances

A three-year defamation suit between the feuding state Sen. John Sabatina and state Rep. Kevin Boyle has brought details of campaign spending between Boyle and his brother, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, to light. Sen. Sabatina sued Rep. Kevin Boyle in 2018. According to Broad + Liberty, “Since the lawsuit began in 2018, Kevin has paid $110,000 for his legal defense out of campaign funds. Much of that funding—about 34 percent since 2018—has come in the form of transfers from campaign accounts under Brendan’s control. Such transfers between the campaign accounts of different elected officials are allowed by law.” Read more here.

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