News & Brews February 7, 2023

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Americans who got free COVID tests from the gov’t may have had their private info shared with unions 

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who signed up to receive free COVID tests from the government, your name, email, and home address may have been handed over to a union. Ridiculous? Yep. Our friends at Americans for Fair Treatment discovered that the U.S. Postal Service deviated from its standard privacy notice. And the new notice—in small print on an online form—allowed USPS to “disclose your information to third parties without your consent.” Those third parties include ”labor organizations as required by applicable law.” And guess what? This same language also popped up if you bought a stamp or mailed a package over the Christmas holidays at a post office kiosk.

‘Red tape’ to blame for ‘skyrocketing energy costs’

At a House Republican Policy Committee hearing yesterday, testifiers from Pennsylvania’s energy industry named red tape as a key barrier to reducing energy costs. Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Callahan said “one of the most critical challenges … is the inability to acquire operating permits in a predictable timeframe.”

Gov’t to resume enforcing Medicaid eligibility

During COVID, the federal government prohibited states from enforcing eligibility rules for individuals on Medicaid. This meant individuals could not be removed from Medicaid rolls, even if their income rose above income eligibility limits. As a result, Pa.’s Medicaid enrollment grew by almost 30%. Now, the government will again seek to ensure Medicaid resources go to those who need them most by enforcing eligibility rules. Per the AP, “State officials say 593,000 people who are currently enrolled are no longer eligible.” Meanwhile, officials are unsure if an additional 577,000 are eligible as they haven’t provided updated financial information.

Pa. GOP ’embraces but rebukes mail-in voting’

At the Pa. Republican Party’s winter meeting this past weekend, the party’s resolution committee adopted two seemingly contrary resolutions. As Broad + Liberty reports, “The first says the party will encourage more of its members to avail themselves of the mail-in voting Act 77 created in order to be more competitive. The second measure affirms the party will try to undo the law when it has the necessary levers of power in state government — circumstances that couldn’t even possibly materialize for another four years.” This should be interesting.

Rozzi says House will vote on rules no later than Feb. 27

WITF reports that according to messages shared with the news outlet, “Speaker Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) said he and six other lawmakers tasked with drafting new rules are sifting through the ideas the public gave them about where, when and how bills should be voted on, among other things.” What’s more, “Rozzi said lawmakers will vote on the operating rules by no later than Feb. 27, the next time the legislature is scheduled to meet in Harrisburg.” The House has been without operating rules since Rozzi was elected Speaker on January 3.

Low turnout predicted in today’s special elections

As Allegheny County holds three special House elections today, the Post-Gazette reports that “the biggest challenge for candidates might just be getting Allegheny County voters to actually vote.” Turnout in off-year special elections sometimes barely reaches double-digits, the story notes. Still, in the heavily Democrat districts, Dems are feeling confident about the outcome of the elections.

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