News & Brews October 22, 2021
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Wolf, teachers union unveil new executive order
We all know government unions hold the puppet strings when it comes to Gov. Wolf’s orders—whether on school closures, mask mandates, or more. So it came as little surprise that yesterday Wolf joined with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers to announce his latest executive order to “transform the nature of work in Pennsylvania.” Among other things, the order disqualifies companies from state loans or tax breaks unless the companies pay the wage dictated by Wolf and offer paid sick leave. Of course, this is just Wolf’s latest temper-tantrum-driven end run around lawmakers in reaction to the Legislature not giving him his way when it comes to increasing the government-mandated wage. It’s worth noting that many companies already pay well over Wolf’s desired minimum wage, but that’s not enough for a governor intent on having his way.
PSERS’ web of secrets?
In the latest drama surrounding our state’s largest pension fund, the Inquirer unwraps how the fund “keeps its communications secret from the public.” It appears even before PSERS’ vote last December to adopt a figure for investment profits that was later shown to be faulty, the fund had launched a “detailed review” of the calculation. In other words, it appears there were questions before the vote, but the vote went forward, although it’s unclear if the board itself knew of the investigation. The Inquirer notes, however, that this week a hearing officer “bar[red] the public from seeing any of the fund’s communications with consultants about the botched calculation….because the public records law exempts the release of items involved in an investigation.”
CATO podcast highlights PA school choice
The CATO Institute’s daily podcast spoke with the Commonwealth Foundation’s Marc LeBlond about how Pennsylvania has seen a large expansion in school choice in recent years, despite a governor firmly opposed to expanding school choice. Listen here!
Obscure panel upholds Wolf’s mask rule
Before last month, who had ever heard of the Joint Committee on Documents? C’mon, be honest! Exactly no one, right? (Slight hyperbole there. I’m sure the 11 members on the committee had heard of it, along with Gov. Wolf, who appointed most of the members. Ok, and I guess a few others, too.) But I digress. Last month, I shared that the House Health Committee has asked the little-known committee to review the school mask mandate issued by the Department of Health to determine if the mandate is actually a regulation that needs to go through the regulatory process or an order that takes effect immediately.Yesterday, the committee voted 7-4 that nope, the mask mandate does not have to go through the regulatory process. Really, no shocker there, given the committee’s makeup. The Commonwealth Court case challenging the mandate on similar grounds is still ongoing.
Johnny Doc trial update
It’s been a few days since I shared an update on the ongoing federal trial of Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. So, here’s a day-by-day update, provided by the Inquirer. Johnny Doc, whose union is a prolific funder of Democrats statewide, is accused of bribery and embezzlement.