News & Brews August 11, 2021

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Wolf enters vaccine mandate waters 

Remember back in February when Gov. Wolf said vaccination was a “a personal health decision.” (time stamp 3:13 here). Then in March when he said he didn’t have a position on vaccine passports only to say 24 seconds later that he would support them (question beginning at 16:10 here). Then there was April, when Wolf was back to having no position (question beginning at 24:40 here). Well, yesterday Wolf announced he is mandating COVID vaccines for state workers who work in health care facilities or other ‘high-risk’ settings. Those who refuse to be vaccinated by Sept. 7 will be required to have weekly COVID tests. The mandate affects about 25,000 employees. So much for the ‘personal health decision’ stance from back in February. Who’s taking bets Wolf won’t stop with specific workers?

Wrong number: State sends vaccine reminder texts to wrong people

Last week, I shared that the Wolf administration planned to send about 250,000 reminder text messages to folks who had received the first COVID shot but not yet the second. Well, it turns out some of these messages are going to the wrong people.

Calling all Pennsylvanians: Draw your congressional map!

Rep. Seth Grove (York County), chair of the House State Government Committee, recently announced that Pennsylvanians can access an online mapping tool to submit comments on the congressional redistricting process. The tool, available at, lets users define their “communities of interest” and/or provide input on the current map, imposed in 2018 by the state Supreme Court.

Extra federal unemployment benefits to end Sept. 4

Amid the dire worker shortage, the extra unemployment payments the federal government has been issuing will end Sept. 4. Many, including lawmakers and employers, had been calling on Gov. Wolf to pull out of the program sooner, as 25 states have done, but Wolf refused, choosing instead to have Pennsylvania remain in the program until its end.

Time to revive the Un-American Activities Committee?

Penn State associate political science professor Christopher Beem, who is also managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, argues in an op-ed that choosing not to receive the COVID vaccine is “un-American.” The “un-American” argument has always turned out super-well in the past, right?

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