News & Brews July 30, 2021

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PA’s pandemic spending, by the numbers

After reporting that state agencies requested $340 million in emergency procurement spending last year (up from an annual average of $81 million), Spotlight PA highlighted the most expensive pandemic-related requests, the most expensive non-pandemic-related requests, which agencies made the most requests, and more. Click here to read!

A look at ‘right to repair’ legislation efforts in PA

The Public Source delves into right to repair legislation introduced in PA, which “would require companies to make available to consumers the parts, tools and knowledge to repair their products, which many manufacturers keep out of reach.” Legislation introduced last year failed to make it out of committee. Legislation introduced this year by Rep. Russ Diamond (Lebanon County) has drawn bipartisan support. Thus far, it also has not come up for a vote in committee.

250,000 text messages coming from PA gov’t

The Wolf administration is prepping to send about 250,000 reminder text messages next week to folks who received the first COVID vaccine dose but not the second. House Republicans responded with concerns that the texting plan “raises serious privacy concerns.” House Republican Caucus Spokesperson Jason Gottesman stated,”Millions of Pennsylvanians have admirably stepped up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but no Pennsylvanian—even those partially vaccinated—gave permission to the Wolf administration to send them a text message or provide their private health and personally identifiable information to a third party vendor or anyone else.” The state has gone all out on its vaccine messaging, which also includes spending several hundred thousand dollars on COVID vaccine-promoting TV ads. (My informal tally so far on TV ads this year, looking at public FCC files, is about $387,000.)

Editorial: Four suggested PSERS reforms

The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board weighs in on the PSERS mess, calling for a series of reforms including: 1) Placing PSERS Executive Director Glen Grell and Investment Chief James Grossman on administrative leave; 2) adding financial experts to PSERS board; 3) capping how much PSERS money can be invested with private equity; and 4) passing legislation, sponsored by Rep. Brett Miller (Lancaster County), “which would mandate the recording of public meetings, guarantee public access to information on investment returns, and detail the fees charged by private equity money managers.”

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