The Revolving Door of Governor Wolf’s Cabinet
Thirty-three and counting: that’s how many Cabinet level appointees have left the Wolf Administration so far with almost eight months to go in his final term. No gubernatorial administration has seen this many high-level departures since the 1970’s.
Is Governor Wolf that difficult to work with? It’s impossible for any state agency to get its job done efficiently when they don’t know who their boss will be the next day. Eight departments are now led by “acting secretaries.” Who knows how long those people will remain in office?
See the full list of Governor Wolf’s cabinet officials and the reasons they left office here.
Lehigh County District Attorney Defends Election Integrity at “Drop Boxes”
I sent a letter to Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin commending him for his efforts to defend election integrity.
District Attorney Martin conducted an investigation that found 288 cases in Lehigh County last fall where voters placed more than one ballot in a drop box, in direct violation of Pennsylvania’s election code. After these findings, the District Attorney announced that detectives will be monitoring drop boxes to ensure the law is followed appropriately.
Governor Wolf’s Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth quickly moved to criticize the district attorney for his plans. His refusal to cave to these intimidation tactics from the Wolf Administration shows his commitment to free, secure, and fair elections in Pennsylvania. Remember: The Drop Boxes were created by the Wolf administration and the PA Supreme Court without the approval of the PA General Assembly.
Read more about this news here.
Voter Registration Trends Show Republican Momentum
Analysis of Pennsylvania’s voter registration statistics in recent years shows clear momentum towards Republicans statewide. In 2016, Democrats held a registration advantage of over 900,000 voters. That gap has now narrowed to about 550,000, mainly due to large gains in Republican registration in rural areas. Eight counties have flipped from majority-Democrat to majority-Republican in the past six years – Cambria, Carbon, Elk, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington, and Westmoreland. The counties surrounding Philadelphia have gained Democratic voters over the same period.
Visit the Department of State’s website to learn more about Pennsylvania’s voter registration statistics.
Philadelphia Public Transportation Faces Safety Crisis
Amidst a concerning and tragic rise in violent crime in and around Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has recently hired and deployed dozens of new security officers to push back against widespread, disorderly behavior in Philadelphia subways. This is just the latest example of the crisis of lawlessness that has plagued the city under District Attorney Larry Krasner.
The Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing reviewing the efforts of SEPTA to ensure the safety of their passengers, just one of a series of recent Senate hearings on the recent rise in violent crime in Pennsylvania. Read more about SEPTA’s response to this situation here.
Reducing Partisanship in Redistricting
One of my key priorities as the Chairman of the Senate State Government Committee has been to begin to roll back the hyper-partisan gerrymandering sins of the past. Last year’s process highlighted some key points of controversy.
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, took action by advancing two constitutional amendments I introduced to reform future redistricting efforts.
Senate Bill 1182 changes how the Chairperson of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission is selected in the event of a stalemate. Senate Bill 1209 would ensure that the federal Census count is used to redraw maps without adjustments which would count state prison inmates at locations other than the prison where they have been incarcerated. Learn more about these bills here.
Court Halts Governor Wolf’s Bridge Tolls
After widespread condemnation of the Wolf Administration’s unilateral plan to place a new tax on PA drivers by tolling nine bridges across the state, the Commonwealth Court took action to stop his executive overreach.
Under the Governor’s plan—without the support of the House or the Senate—tolls would be levied on the Lenhartsville Bridge on I-78 and bridges that cross the Lehigh River on I-80 that could cost the average commuter an additional $1,000 per year, in addition to the terrible increase in gas prices which have hit us all so hard. Read more about this news here.
Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Rate Woes
Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate of 4.8% continues to be significantly higher than the national average of 3.6%. Our state now ranks 47th in the country, with the only three states with higher unemployment rates– Alaska, Nevada, and New Mexico. The states with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, 1.9%, are Nebraska and Utah.
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