News & Brews September 8, 2021

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Protests as Wolf’s mask mandate takes effect

Some students, parents, and school districts are protesting Gov. Wolf’s latest mask mandate, which went into effect yesterday. The Tribune-Review reports that students in several districts walked out of classes in protest. And some school districts are defying the order (for example Tamaqua in Schuylkill County, Red Lion in York County, and Hamburg in Berks County). On the other hand, many school districts are complying with the order. Meanwhile, lawmakers plan to return to Harrisburg early to address the mandate.

Senate GOP primary turns nasty

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sean Parnell is fighting back after fellow GOP candidate Jeff Bartos launched an attack claiming Parnell is “unelectable” due to a protective order his wife sought against him. The Inquirer reports, “Bartos’ criticism centers on two temporary protection-from-abuse orders issued against Parnell in 2017 and 2018. Neither was extended after a full hearing involving both parties, and both were later expunged.” Parnell responded, “Bartos’ allegations are horrific lies and all the evidence proves it. Not only does he know full well that these allegations are provably false, but his willingness to spread these lies without any consideration for the damage he’s doing to my three young kids is utterly disgusting.”

The latest PSERS drama

This summer, attempts to oust the top executives of our state’s largest pension fund fell short, but the Inquirer reports that last week, for the first time, dissidents mustered a board majority in a public vote to stop more than $300 million in new investments backed by the fund’s chief investment officer, James H. Grossman Jr., and his big team of staff and consultants.” The Inky notes that the 8-7 vote came after “bitter debate” and “showed power shifting to the self-styled reformers on the deeply divided board of PSERS, the Public School Employees’ Retirement System.”

What’s in a name? SEPTA’s identity crisis

If I were to list all the problems plaguing SEPTA, its name wouldn’t be top on the list. Still, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, which has been propped up financially with hundreds of millions of dollars each year from turnpike tolls, is considering rebranding six of its routes as “Metro.” According to SEPTA’s strategic planning manager, “What Metro says is: Frequent, affordable, all-day, flexible rail service. What we want people to think of is a light rail-style network that you don’t just use for commuting into Center City for an office job. It’s for seeing friends, going to the doctor, running errands.”

Op-Ed: ‘RGGI is a job-killing boondoggle’

Former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty arguing that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would kill jobs and increase electricity costs for Pennsylvanians, without helping the environment. Barletta writes, “The General Assembly should move to reject Pennsylvania’s involvement in RGGI. If not, then when I’m elected governor, I’ll take care of it myself.”

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