News & Brews August 25, 2021

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Redistricting commission votes to count prisoners in home districts

Yesterday, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, responsible for redrawing state legislative districts, voted 3-2 to change where prisoners in state prisons are counted for the purpose of redistricting. Instead of counting them in the location of the prisons where they are housed, the commission voted to count them in the location where they lived immediately prior to being sentenced. The change does not apply to those who lived outside PA before sentencing or those serving life sentences. It also does not apply to congressional redistricting or to federal or county prisons.

Wolf unexpectedly scraps changes to WIC program administration

Gov. Wolf is abandoning a plan to revamp the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) by ending contracts with existing local providers to administer the program and switching to new providers. Spotlight PA reports that “in letters sent Tuesday to groups that applied for WIC contracts, the department [of health] said it would cancel the transition to new providers. Organizations that expected to take over programs, as well as existing WIC providers, received little information about what will happen next.” The changeover had been controversial given “a bidding process that advocates and lawmakers said lacked transparency.”

Wolf admin ends unemployment system lawsuit against IBM

Offering little explanation and few details, yesterday the Wolf administration “discontinued a lawsuit against IBM after suing the company four years ago, accusing it of failing to deliver on a [2006] contract to produce an updated system for processing unemployment compensation claims,” the AP reports. In what’s become a pattern of secrecy for Gov. Wolf, the AP also notes the administration “refused to provide a copy of any agreement with IBM, or describe all of its terms” and “did not respond to questions Tuesday about how much the case had cost it in legal bills.”

Sen. Kim Ward: Retroactive window for victims is no quick fix

Responding to accusations that she’s blocking passage of a retractive window for victims of childhood sex abuse to sue, Sen. Kim Ward (Westmoreland County) has an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Tribune emphasizing her work on behalf of victims and highlighting that the current proposal is not the “quick fix” it appears to be.

Philly school board mandates vaccine for all staff

Yesterday the Philadelphia School Board voted unanimously to mandate the COVID vaccine for its 20,000 staff members, promising “progressive discipline” for those who refuse to comply. While the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers supports the mandate, not everyone is on board. WHYY reports, “Nicole Hunt, president of Unite Here, Local 634 Union which represents district food service workers and noon-time aides, spoke against the vaccine mandate. Hunt said she fears the mandate will lead to staff resignations.”

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