News & Brews July 2, 2021

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Dept. of Health continues to assume blind trust

After a massive data breach by the state Dept. of Health’s contact tracing vendor—which had been awarded a no-bid contract—the department is looking to fix its mess by…hiring an even more expensive vendor through another secretive process. By selecting Boston-based Public Consulting Group via emergency procurement measures, the department can “sidestep typical bidding practices to obtain supplies or services quickly in an emergency,” according to Spotlight PA. What could go wrong? Maybe ask the Pennsylvanians whose personal information was still available in an accessible Google document months after the initial breach was reported.

More transparency coming for Pa. taxpayers

Gov. Wolf signed into law a bill requiring government agencies, school districts, and local municipalities to post the agenda of meetings at least 24 hours in advance and circulate printed agendas at meetings. The law also forbids officials from making decisions on items not listed on the agenda, ensuring the “right of the public to be informed and present at their government’s proceedings,” according to bill sponsor Sen. Pat Stefano. Read more in PennLive.

Wolf vetoes vaccine passport ban

Fulfilling his threat, Gov. Wolf yesterday vetoed a ban on vaccine passports that would have prevented state and local governments, including school districts, as well as colleges and universities receiving state funding from discriminating against individuals on the basis of COVID vaccine status. In response to Wolf’s veto, bill sponsor Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County) stated, “Instead of showing that no one will be denied service or an education because of a decision not to take a COVID-19 vaccine, students and parents will be forced to make difficult decisions in less than two months as more schools begin forced vaccinations.” Read her full statement here.

SCOTUS upholds donor privacy

In a victory for private giving, the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday struck down as unconstitutional California’s regulation requiring non-profits to disclose their donors to the state. The 6-3 ruling in Americans for Prosperity v. Bonta held the regulation violated First Amendment rights. Indeed, every American should be free to support the causes he or she believes in without fear of government harassment.

Fireworks haters can ‘get over it’

As we head into this holiday weekend, rest assured that the author of the 2017 bill to legalize consumer grade fireworks in Pennsylvania will not bow to those calling for its repeal. “We’re not going to repeal it. Get over it,” said Sen. Gene Yaw. Happy Independence Day!

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