News & Brews June 11, 2021
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General Assembly terminates Wolf’s disaster declaration
Yesterday, the House and Senate passed HR 106, a joint resolution fully terminating Gov. Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration. In the Senate, Democrat Lisa Boscola joined all Republicans as well as Independent John Yudichak in voting in favor of the resolution. In the House, eight Democrats joined all Republicans in backing the measure. Following the vote, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, the resolution’s sponsor, stated, “With Pennsylvania rapidly returning to normal thanks to a legislative-led vaccine rollout and the need to keep our economy on a track to vigorously reopen, we did not want to wait a minute longer to terminate this emergency disaster declaration that has been responsible for so much economic devastation over the last 16 months.” Disagreement exists over when the termination takes effect, as the results of the May 18 primary election have not yet been certified, and the Department of State contends certification must happen first. Meanwhile, under a separate piece of legislation, both chambers voted unanimously to extend regulatory waivers that had been implemented under the emergency declaration.
GOP lawmakers propose election reform legislation
Yesterday, Rep. Seth Grove, chair of the State Government Committee, introduced legislation to significantly reform our election processes to better secure election integrity. The Inquirer reports that a few of the the proposed changes include instituting a Voter ID requirement, allowing counties to being processing mail-in ballots five days before Election Day, implementing in-person early voting, and moving the deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot from seven days before an election to 15 days. Click here to read Rep. Grove’s full news release announcing the legislation. The House could take up the measure as early as next week.
Amid calls for resignation, PSERS top staff ‘double down’ on investment strategy
Even as six members of PSERS’ 15-member board have called for the removal of the pension fund’s executive director and investment chief, yesterday that chief—James H. Grossman, Jr.— doubled down on the pension fund’s controversial investment strategy. Grossman boasted that an $85 million investment is now worth $329 million. The Inquirer reports, “Grossman acknowledged that PSERS, as an insider, could not sell its shares and cash in the winnings until November, at the earliest.” PSERS remains under FBI investigation.
Senate votes to require gov’t agencies to publicize agendas
The Senate voted 49-0 in favor of a bill that would require government agencies to post their meeting agendas for public meetings in advance of the meetings. Currently, no such uniform requirement exists, meaning the general public may not learn what was discussed at a meeting until after the fact. The legislation now heads to the House for consideration.