News & Brews September 16, 2021

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Senate committee votes to subpoena personal info of all PA voters

Yesterday, the Republican majority on the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted to subpoena the personal information of every voter who cast a ballot in the November 2020 general election and the May 2021 primary. Republicans say the subpoenas are to verify the identity of every voter, and they seek information that is already publicly available as well as information that is not, such as birth dates and the last four digits of social security numbers. Democrats immediately decried the subpoenas as an infringement on privacy. So, that’s where we are.

Nursing home industry concerned over Wolf’s staffing mandate

At a joint senate committee hearing yesterday, industry leaders representing nursing homes and long-term care facilities expressed concern that Gov. Wolf’s mandate calling for increased staffing at nursing homes will be impossible to meet and is the wrong approach to addressing staffing issues. Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, said the mandate “should go back to stakeholders, the experts on the front lines who can tell you, who can tell state government what is best moving forward.”

Editorial: Turnpike commission partly to blame for unpaid tolls

After news recently broke that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission lost $104 million last year in unpaid tolls under the new toll-by-plate program, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Editorial Board says the commission is at least partly to blame “by gouging the people using toll-by-plate.”

Allegheny County exec wants unvaccinated ‘isolated from society’

As Allegheny County is considering requiring vaccines for all county employees (not just new hires, as was previously the case), County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said, “If there is a mandate to be enforced, it will be a requirement of employment — you’ll have to show your vaccine card.” He added, “These vaccines cards are something people are going to be showing a lot of”, noting that “folks who are not vaccinated are going to be isolated from society.” Separately, the Tribune-Review gave a bit more context to the Department of Health’s incomplete and likely misleading numbers on vaccine breakthrough cases (DOH gave data going back to January, before the vaccine was even widely available). The Trib reports that breakthrough cases have jumped in the county and accounted for 23% of all cases in August.

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