News & Brews July 12, 2021

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Dep’t of Labor overcharged unemployed Pennsylvanians for years

Well, this is a fine mess. For a decade beginning in 2006, the PA Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) overcharged unemployed Pennsylvanians millions of dollars in interest for overpayment of benefits because L&I used a fixed 9% interest rate instead of the 3% to 8% set annually by the state. What’s worse, it seems L&I has been attempting to cover-up its mistake and efforts to fix the problem for the last four years. Spotlight PA exposes the story.

Could the state charge you more for your Amazon order?

As a bona fide Amazon addict, I’m quite concerned over this one. It seems the recently formed Transportation Revenue Options Commission, tasked with coming up with alternative ways to fund transportation, might recommend adding a 25-cent to $1 additional charge to every package delivered in PA by Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and local grocery stores and restaurants. Commission Chair Yassmin Gramian, who is also Secretary of the PA Department of Transportation, claims, “This tax is gaining traction.” Who was polled for this conclusion? Was it a scientific study? Where’s the methodology? My (clearly) scientific conclusion is that the millions of Pennsylvanians who have upped their online purchases during COVID wouldn’t be too keen on the government charging them more. (Am I projecting?) Of course, this brings to mind the wit and wisdom of President Reagan, who highlighted government’s belief that “if it moves, tax it.”

Op-Ed: Wolf failed Pennsylvanians with election reform

House State Government Committee Chair Seth Grove (York County) had an op-ed in Broad + Liberty noting that “any and all election issues” voters now face are squarely the fault of Gov. Wolf as he refused to work with the Legislature on election reform before vetoing the bill presented to him. Grove writes, “Gov. Wolf had 63 days to negotiate election legislation with the General Assembly from April 23, when I talked to his ex-chief of staff, to the Senate passing the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act at the end of June. He never once attempted to engage in a conversation in those two months to forge a compromise. His refusal to engage with lawmakers is failed leadership.”

DOH removes 600,000 duplicate vaccinations from dashboard

Providing yet another reason to question data coming from the Department of Health, on Saturday DOH removed about 600,000 COVID shots from its dashboard, meaning “there have been about 600,000 fewer people involved in the vaccination process than the state statistics previously suggested,” the Reading Eagle reports. While the number of people fully vaccinated increased slightly with the data fix, the number partially vaccinated dropped significantly.

New Back to School PAC takes local efforts statewide

The Keeping Kids in School PAC began as a local effort in Southeast PA, but now the effort has secured the backing of venture capitalist Paul Martino and is expanding its work via a new Back to School PAC. The Delaware Valley Journal reports that Martino “has committed $500,000 to train advocates around the state, essentially franchising the successful Keep[ing] Kids in School PAC’s methods.”


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