News & Brews June 10, 2021

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Senate committee votes to end Wolf’s disaster declaration

Shortly before 10pm last night, the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee passed on a 7-4 party-line vote an amended version of the House resolution ending Gov. Wolf’s disaster declaration. Reportedly, the Senate is hoping to leave in place some of the waivers of regulations, while still terminating the disaster declaration. Both the full Senate and the House are expected to take up the resolution again today.

Some PSERS board members seeking to oust fund leaders

Spotlight PA reports that in the latest development in the PSERS mess, “A dissident group of trustees for Pennsylvania’s largest pension fund on Wednesday was seeking to gain majority support to fire the retirement plan’s chief executive and top investment officer…” The investment officer, James H. Grossman, Jr., is the highest-paid employee in state government. The bipartisan group includes Democrat Sen. Katie Muth, Republican state Treasurer Stacy Garrity, and former Democrat state Treasurer Joe Torsella. Spotlight PA notes, “The situation appears nearly set for a boardroom showdown as the fund leaders plan to conduct two days of meetings on Thursday and Friday.” This unusual move (to say the least) comes as PSERS remains under FBI investigation.

Senate passes bill banning vaccine passports

Yesterday, the Senate voted 29-20 in favor of legislation that would ban the state, counties, municipalities, school districts, and publicly funded colleges from discriminating against anyone on the basis of vaccine status by requiring proof of COVID vaccination. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, Sen. Judy Ward, and Sen. Michele Brooks, comes after some states have considered requiring residents to provide proof of vaccine status in order to go about many of the daily activities of life. The ban does not apply to private businesses. Click here to view Sen. Phillips-Hill’s remarks on the legislation, which now heads to the House for consideration.

Pennsylvanians’ private info still online after data breach

More than a month after news broke that the Department of Health’s contact tracing vendor had publicly posted the private health information of more than 70,000 Pennsylvanians, it’s come out that info on some of these individuals remains online—unsecured and accessible to anyone with a link. How in the world did this happen? That’s what everyone wants to know (and what the Wolf administration should demand to know).

Op-Ed: Wolf’s latest charter attack would hurt PA students

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Colleen Hroncich has an excellent op-ed in Broad + Liberty, diving into Gov. Wolf’s latest plan to strip funding from charter school students, debunking Wolf’s myth that he’s trying to save taxpayer dollars, and taking education bureaucrats to task for their “dubious math” when it comes to cyber charter school funding.

Merger of state universities draws opposition at hearing

The Inquirer reports that all but one of the 40-plus commenters at two public hearings yesterday opposed plans to merge six state universities into two new entities. The commentators were faculty, alumni, and graduate students of the state university system, many of whom would be affected by the mergers.

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