News & Brews July 23, 2021

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Wolf flip-flops on his flip-flop on voter ID

There’s Simone Biles’ Yurchenko…and then there’s Gov. Wolf’s double-flip. The AP is reporting that Wolf says his position on voter ID has NOT changed, and Wolf says he hasn’t seen any way of expanding voter ID requirements in PA in a way that’s not voter suppression or too restrictive. This is a change of tune from what Wolf recently told The Philadelphia Inquirer, when he said there is “probably a reasonable way to make sure that somebody who votes by mail, you know, shows some ID” and added “there is a reasonable voter ID solution to say, you know, you need to show that you should be voting here.” I know. I can’t keep up either. Naturally, the AP article did not press Wolf at all on his double flip.

DOJ will not investigate PA nursing home policy

The Department of Justice has advised Gov. Wolf that it will not investigate the state’s nursing home policy that directed nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. Last August, DOJ had requested data from Wolf, along with governors from Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, to determine whether to launch an investigation. Michigan was also let off the hook by DOJ. It’s unclear if New York received similar news, and as of yesterday, New Jersey had not.

Lawmakers call for more oversight of emergency contracts

In the wake of reports that the state requested more than $340 million in no-bid contracts in 2020 (scroll down to the “Also this Week” section for more on this), House and Senate Republican lawmakers are calling for more oversight of the emergency procurement process. This process currently lets the state avoid public bidding for contacts it deems urgent. Spotlight PA has more.

Garrity, Shapiro agree on taking anti-BDS action against Ben & Jerry’s

In 2016, Gov. Wolf signed into law a bill prohibiting Pennsylvania from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. Now, Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican Treasurer Stacy Garrity agree that the state must enforce this law against Ben & Jerry’s after the company announced it would not sell its products in the West Bank. Garrity’s office, which plays a key role in reviewing state contracts, noted, “Treasury is required to ensure that all monetary disbursements of the Commonwealth are authorized, accurate, and in compliance with applicable statutes, regulations, and management policies. Obviously, that includes Act 163 of 2016, which prohibits state agencies, or affiliates, from contracting with companies engaged in a boycott of Israel.”

Public weighs in at first redistricting hearings 

Yesterday, redistricting activists testified at the first of a series of hearings held by the House State Government Committee. The hearings are part of a GOP commitment to increase transparency and public input in the redistricting process. The Post-Gazette has more.

Rep. Margo Davidson charged with stealing from taxpayers; resigns

Rep. Margo Davidson (Delaware County) said she will resign after being charged with misusing campaign funds and stealing from taxpayers by requesting and receiving reimbursements from the commonwealth for expenses she did not incur. In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Davidson said, “Today, I sadly announce my resignation and take legal responsibility for improper record keeping and reimbursement of expenses for which I am paying the full restitution today for the $6,925 that was not administered properly.”

Former Sen. Folmer released from prison

Former Sen. Mike Folmer, who resigned from the Legislature in 2019 after being charged with possession of child pornography, has been released from prison after one year. Folmer must still serve eight years on probation.

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