News & Brews July 1, 2021

Get News & Brews in your inbox each day: Subscribe here!

Wolf vetoes election reform

Yesterday, Gov. Wolf vetoed HB1300, the comprehensive election reform package that would have implemented measures including early in-person voting, pre-canvassing of ballots, and improved voter ID requirements. Wolf’s sticking point was voter ID. In response to Wolf’s veto, bill sponsor Rep. Seth Grove (York County) noted, “Today Gov. Wolf has done a tremendous disservice to the voters and county election officials by vetoing HB 1300 after never engaging in negotiations with the General Assembly.”

Wolf signs budget, line-item vetoes $3.1 million for election audits bureau

Following the brouhaha over funding in the budget for a new Bureau of Election Audits within the Office of the Auditor General, Gov. Wolf line-item vetoed $3.1 million for the AG’s office that Republicans say was intended for this purpose, although the budget contained no specific wording to this end. Democrats hailed the veto, with Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (Allegheny County), stating, “We had no agreement to use that increase to create a Bureau of Election Auditing, and Republican efforts to say otherwise were dishonest and an insult to the integrity of our elections.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Republican Auditor General Tim DeFoor said, “There is no formation of a Bureau of Election Audits within the auditor general. If the governor and the legislature were to decide that’s a function they would like to see from the auditor general, and it’s funded, we would implement it.”

State gov’t remote employees to start to head back to work

PennLive gives us an update on the return to in-person work for about 20,000 state government employees: “The return of temporary telework employees to their state offices, or possibly to a different telework arrangement, will begin in earnest next week, according to Dan Egan, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of Administration.” Maybe the PA Department of Health can now finally update its Right to Know information, which says DOH’s office building has been closed since March 16, 2020. I mean, it’s not like the Department of Health is a central agency in responding to pandemics or anything.

Population loss worries Pittsburgh

The Tribune-Review reports that Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb raised concerns yesterday over the city’s shrinking population and labor force, both of which are contributing to a decline in city revenue. This problem isn’t limited to Pittsburgh, and we previously shared that PA as a whole lost $1.7 billion in 2019 due to outmigration.

State Supreme Court overturns Cosby conviction

In the news that took over headlines yesterday, our state Supreme Court tossed out Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction and released him from prison. The court did not rule on the question of guilt but rather said Cosby was unfairly prosecuted.

Sign up to get News & Brews in your inbox