In this email edition:
Governor Wolf flips on voter ID rules??
A few weeks after he vetoed a bill to provide for reasonable voter ID rules, similar to existing law in many other states (including Delaware!), Governor Wolf now says that he is willing to support such legislation.
For more than 15 years, many of us in the PA House and Senate have voted to require some kind of ID to vote – just like you need an ID to cash a check, board a flight, or even buy a beer.
This shouldn’t be a partisan issue – this is just simple common sense. A recent Franklin and Marshall College poll found that 74 percent of Pennsylvania voters support photo identification at the polls.
I’m pleased to see the Governor reversing his position regarding this issue—to make it easier to vote in Pennsylvania, and harder to cheat. Read more about his “change of heart” here.
State Rep. Margo Davidson to resign after misusing campaign funds
This week, State Rep. Margo Davidson, a Democrat from Delaware County, resigned from the House after being charged with misusing campaign funds. Davidson, who served as the Minority Chair of the House State Government Committee, fraudulently accepted taxpayer dollars as reimbursements for overnight stays in Harrisburg when she was not in the city. Read more here.
Election results: Reporter asks: Is this the first quack of a lame-duck governor?
After Pennsylvania voters decisively supported two constitutional amendments to limit any PA governor’s future emergency powers in this year’s primary election, an article from the Pennsylvania Capital-Star questioned whether the votes were the “first quacks of a lame-duck governor.” The term “lame duck” refers to the fact that Governor Wolf is prohibited by the state constitution from running for re-election in 2022.
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Wolf often took a unilateral approach to emergency management, including his administration’s arbitrary business shutdowns that devastated many smaller employers in Pennsylvania. Voters clearly did not favor his approach and voted by a significant margin to allow the state Senate and House to have a say in future emergency declarations. View the full results of the May 18th Primary ballot questions above.
Some of the top staffers in the executive branch, including the Governor’s chief of staff and budget secretary, have also recently left the administration, raising further questions about the final year of Wolf’s tenure. Read about these high-profile departures here.
How can we encourage environmentalists and manufacturers to work together?
I recently traveled to Pittsburgh for a hearing of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee to review a recently cancelled U.S. Steel $1.4 billion-dollar expansion that would have create 1,000 high-paying jobs. Finger-pointing in the local media blames permitting problems, loud opposition from environmental groups, and 101 other possible causes, much to the dismay of the union workers who hoped to work there.
At the public hearing, I asked a simple question: Can’t we work together to ensure clean air and water AND bring good-paying jobs to our state, rather than ship those jobs off to Arkansas? Watch my full comments above, as well as a Senator who spoke in defense of “radical greens.”
Gerrymandering hypocrisy in New York and Illinois
A recent article from the Wall Street Journal about the redistricting processes currently taking place in New York and Illinois shows how partisanship can infect the process of redrawing legislative and congressional districts. The article outlines how Democratic legislators in New York who once championed bipartisan redistricting are now working to curb the powers of a bipartisan anti-gerrymandering commission and how Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned on establishing a non-partisan commission to draw maps, but then backtracked once he was in office.
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, will hold a bipartisan hearing on August 4th in Philadelphia to discuss how to make the process of congressional redistricting more open and transparent in Pennsylvania. My two bills to begin to roll back the hyper-partisan gerrymandering sins of the past are ready for consideration this fall. Watch the short clip above outlining the bipartisan goals I have for this legislation.
Department of Labor and Industry error costs Pennsylvania residents millions
A recent article from Spotlight PA claims the Department of Labor and Industry made a critical error by overcharging interest on repayments for people who received unemployment benefits they did not qualify for. According to the article, the department has known of this issue since 2016, but did not disclose this information to the public until recently, when asked about the error by Spotlight PA.
Mistakes like this should be immediately shared with the public and those affected, not hidden for years on end. Be sure to check out the full article here.