News & Brews October 20, 2021

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Senate committee advances probation reform

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed SB913, a bipartisan bill that would limit “the length of probation sentences and the circumstances under which someone on probation can be sent to jail,” the AP reports. The bill seeks to correct a system that “has too often become a probation-to-prison revolving door as technical violations, such as a minor traffic offense, can perpetually extend the clock on an offender’s term and result in re-confinement.” The measure now heads to the full Senate.

Op-Ed: More COVID data deception from the Wolf administration

We saw it with restaurant data. We saw it with travel data. Now, we’re seeing it with data over COVID breakthrough infections. Remember last month when the Wolf administration issued a press release announcing that “97% of COVID deaths, 95% of hospitalizations and 94% of cases are among unvaccinated Pennsylvanians” (emphasis mine)? Well… not true. And the administration knew it. Why not just tell the truth? It’s really not that hard. Yours truly has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty asking this very question—and giving the actual data the administration released only after a Right-to-Know request. Read the piece here.

Former Sec’t of State Boockvar personally invited Dem county to apply for election grant

The plot surrounding the Mark Zuckerberg-funded election grants thickens, as emails show that “Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and an official in Gov. Tom Wolf’s office knew about private 2020 election grants and invited Democratic-leaning counties to apply, appearing to aid the selective process at a time when other counties were unaware,” Broad + Liberty reports. Meanwhile, the emails, obtained through a Right-to-Know request, did not show “any official in either office providing similar information or assistance to any of the commonwealth’s Republican-leaning counties.”

Op-Ed: Lawmakers should pass state retirement plan

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity has an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer backing legislation that would establish a state-level retirement program that lets employers implement payroll deductions for retirement accounts for employees—accounts that would be administered by the state Treasury Department. Here’s the thing: Why is this needed? Sure, the state could offer a savings plan akin to 529 college savings plans, but why does the government need to do this? Do we really think the government can do it better than the private sector? Now, of course, if this were, “and you can take your social security tax and put it into the retirement savings account instead,” THAT’S a plan we would 1000% support.

Pitt faculty votes to unionize

Faculty at the University of Pittsburgh will become the newest members of United Steelworkers after voting to unionize. The tally of those who voted was 1,511 (71%) in favor of unionizing and 612 (29%) opposed. The Post-Gazette reports that, “Pitt’s faculty union will become the largest new union of any kind in the country this year, organizers said, with more than 3,000 people represented across all five of the university’s campuses.”

Battle over school curriculum transparency continues

As the Legislature continues to advance Rep. Andrew Lewis’s bill that would require public school districts to post their curricula online for parents to view, Democrats and teachers’ unions (but I repeat myself) are panicked over the idea of such transparency. Rich Askey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, has called the effort “an absolute, unnecessary distraction from what is really important—teaching kids.” (Ummm.) And Gov. Wolf’s office is super scared that telling parents what their kids are learning could spur “resistance to ensuring all learners have access to accuracies in history, and exposure to content reflecting multiple student identities.” (Double ummm.) I guess Wolf and the PSEA agree with Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe that parents should just stay out of their kids’ education.

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