News & Brews November 17, 2021

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Corman formally announces for governor, will keep Senate seat

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman officially launched his candidacy for governor yesterday. Corman told PennLive his top priorities would be guaranteeing personal freedoms, economic growth, and parental choice in education. He says he doesn’t plan to resign his senate seat as he campaigns for executive office, pointing to Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who also plans to stay in office as he runs for governor.

Court rejects Wolf’s stay request, says mask mandate will expire 12/4

After the Commonwealth Court last week voided Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam’s statewide school mask mandate, the Wolf administration appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, triggering an automatic stay. Yesterday, the Commonwealth Court granted a request to terminate that stay, ordering that it “be lifted upon the next publication of the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Saturday, December 4, 2021.” Put simply, this means the mandate will expire on December 4, unless the Supreme Court issues a new stay. The appeal before that court is pending, and oral argument is scheduled for December 8.

Johnny Doc resigns as head of IBEW Local #98

Convicted Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty resigned yesterday as head of IBEW Local #98, a position he had held for nearly 30 years. Replacing him in an interim role will be IBEW 98’s safety officer Mark Lynch. Dougherty also plans to resign as head of the Building and Construction Trades Council, a role he’s held since 2015. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board took note (paywall) of Johnny Doc’s conviction, writing of the “symbiotic relationship” between unions and politicians in big cities and concluding that “power without political competition corrupts absolutely.”

House could soon vote on election reform 2.0

PennLive reports that the House is poised to vote on HB1800, the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act 2.0, sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (York County). The bill is a revival of the original Voting Rights Protection Act (also sponsored by Grove), which Gov. Wolf vetoed after, by his own admission, he prejudged the voter ID provision because it was introduced by Republicans. Grove reintroduced the bill in September, noting the inclusion of several Democrat-sponsored measures. The PennLive story notes however, that apparently, Wolf doesn’t like the new bill either.

House committee advances amendments to restore balance of power

Yesterday, the House State Government Committee advanced two proposed constitutional amendments that would further restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. The first requires legislative approval after 21 days of any executive order issued by the governor that has the force of law, and the second says that if the General Assembly passes a disapproval of a regulation, that disapproval doesn’t require approval by the governor. The votes were party line, with all Democrats on the committee opposing the amendments.

Op-Ed: Unions should be accountable to public employees

Jason Kohute, a state employe who lives in Dauphin County, has an op-ed in PennLive detailing his frustration with his union’s lack of responsiveness and his concern that the union is more interested in pursuing a “political agenda” than in helping him. Kohute outlines several reforms that would make government unions more accountable to public workers, including informing workers of their rights and ensuring workers have the opportunity to vote on what union, if any, represents them.

House passes bill to end permit requirement for concealed carry

Yesterday, the House voted 107-92 in favor of legislation that would end the requirement that Pennsylvanians obtain a separate permit to carry a concealed weapon. Four Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while eight Republicans opposed it. Gov. Wolf has pledged to veto the bill should it reach his desk.

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