News & Brews September 20, 2021

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Grove reintroduces Voting Rights Protection Act

After Gov. Wolf by his own admission ‘prejudged’ the last voting reform bill because it was introduced by Republicans—only to then change his tune on Voter ID after vetoing the bill—on Friday Rep. Seth Grove (York County) reintroduced his Voting Rights Protection Act as HB 1800. Noting that “access and security are not mutually exclusive,” Grove highlighted that his bill “protects our voting rights through three broad concepts of increased access, increased security and modernization.”

PA unemployment still higher than nat’l average, labor force shrinks

In August, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate may have dropped one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.4%, but we’re still well above the national rate of 5.2%. In fact, we’re “tied at 41st among states,” the AP reports. Meanwhile, our labor force shrank by 7,000 in August, dropping below 6.3 million.

Worker shortage forcing some businesses to close

Speaking of the labor market, PennLive reports that some central PA restaurants are scaling back hours, closing on some days, closing temporarily, or even closing permanently because they can’t find employees. This “mirrors a national trend” in which “restaurants are nearly 1 million jobs or 8% below pre-pandemic employment levels and have the highest level of unfilled jobs of any industry.” Of course, government policies like forcing extensive shutdowns, instilling massive (and non-data-backed) fear of restaurants during COVID, and distributing extra unemployment checks had nothing to do with this…nope, nothing at all………

PA Dems sue over GOP election subpoenas, audit

On Friday, Democrats in the state Senate sued in an attempt to stop Republicans’ subpoenas of voter information and their overall audit of last year’s election. The AP reports, “The 53-page lawsuit, filed by all 21 Senate Democrats, contends that the Senate Republican bid to investigate the election illegally treads on the court’s duties, violates state law over election audits and seeks information that is barred from public disclosure.” The ongoing drama of all this aside, I’ll say that Democrats’ sudden interest in separation of powers may be an unintended irony.

Happening in the Capitol this week

City and State PA offers a brief roundup of a few things they’re watching this week as the Legislature is back in session. Included on the radar are COVID regulatory waivers, Senate rules, and election reform.

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