News & Brews June 17, 2021

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Senate passes cocktails-to-go bill, but amendment draws ire

By a close 26-24 vote, the Senate yesterday passed a cocktails-to-go bill that includes an amendment to “allow increasingly popular liquor-based ready-to-drink cocktails to be sold in grocery stores, convenience stores, beer distributors, restaurants and bars,” PennLive reports. There had been broad support for the original version of the bill that would make permanent the cocktails-to-go allowance implemented under COVID. The amended version, however, drew criticism and “nay” votes amid accusations that it’s a stealth move toward privatization, despite the fact that it would help establishments harmed by COVID shutdowns. Gov. Wolf has suggested he would veto the legislation should it reach his desk.

As Wolf ignores lawmakers (again), Grove asks him to come to the table on election reform

After weeks of not hearing anything from Gov. Wolf’s office since his April 23 promise to work with lawmakers on election reform, on Tuesday House State Government Committee Chair Seth Grove sent a letter to Wolf asking him to come to the table to negotiate. “I am requesting a meeting with you so that we can finalize legislation that can become law,” Grove wrote. “To put it plainly, Gov. Wolf: How do you know what we are willing to change or compromise on in this bill if you will not come to the table?” The Wolf administration first countered that the governor is “always wiling to have a conversation on election reform,” but then resorted to its usual hyperbolic accusations, sans evidence, of disenfranchisement.

Contact tracing vendor still trying to secure Pennsylvanians’ health data

Well, this is a fine mess. Spotlight PA reports that Insight Global, the contact tracing vendor awarded a no-bid contract by the Department of Health, “has called on current and former employees to help it locate and secure documents online that might still contain the personal information of those who were contacted.” Remember, this data breach was first exposed by media (WPXI in Pittsburgh) in late April, more than six weeks ago. And Insight Global is still trying to secure the data.

Is more Sunday hunting on the horizon? 

Yesterday, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee voted 7-4 to advance a bill that would allow the Game Commission to decide the number of Sundays on which hunting should be allowed. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Laughlin (Erie County), would repeal the current ban on Sunday hunting. Not everyone is pleased, though. The Tribune-Democrat reports that the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau opposes the bill, and disagreements exist within the Democrat and Republican parties as well. For example, the seven votes in favor of the bill in committee included four Republicans and three Democrats, while the four votes opposed included three Republicans and one Democrat.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge hospitalized

Former Gov. Tom Ridge was hospitalized yesterday after suffering a stroke, according to a longtime aide. The AP reported last night that Ridge was in critical but stable condition after a procedure to remove a blood clot. We send our prayers for Gov. Ridge and his family.


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