News & Brews June 25, 2021

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State budget votes could begin today

Capitolwire reports (paywall) that the proposed FY 2021-22 state budget could begin moving through the General Assembly today, with final votes potentially coming this weekend. Meanwhile, the AP notes that details of the budget deal are “scanty.” Unfortunately, “scanty” details often translate into “not-so-great-for-taxpayers….”

Ban on vaccine passports heads to Wolf, who plans to veto it

Despite saying he has no plans to implement government-mandated vaccine passports in state government, Gov. Wolf does have plans to veto a bill heading to his desk that would ban such passports. Yesterday, the Legislature gave final passage to the bill (SB618), which also imposes restrictions on the orders a secretary of health can issue relating to business closures, mask wearing, and shelter-in-place mandates.

New hope for permanent cocktails-to-go

The controversial cocktails-to-go bill got less controversial yesterday as the House passed the bill without the amendment expanding who would be allowed to sell ready-to-drink cocktails. Some had seen the amendment as a move toward liquor privatization (perish the thought!). The bill, which passed the House with broad bipartisan support, now heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

Op-Ed: The importance of natural gas in PA

Allegheny County resident Jude Clemente, who is an editor at RealClearEnergy, penned an op-ed highlighting the importance of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania and expressing concern over the negative impact that would follow if Gov. Wolf succeeds in joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Wolf’s chief of staff, budget secretary leaving 

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf announced that his chief of staff, Mike Brunelle, as well as his budget secretary, Jen Swails, are both leaving his administration to take jobs in the private sector. Deputy Chief of Staff Elena Cross will take over for Brunelle, while Gregory Thall, who currently serves as a special advisor to the budget secretary, will become the new budget secretary.

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