Public Hearings begin on PA Department of State Controversies
Watch my closing remarks from the hearing
The Senate State Government Committee, which I chair, held the first in a series of hearings Tuesday reviewing many of the recent, controversial actions undertaken by the Department of State. I asked Acting Secretary Degraffenreid some simple, straightforward questions about how the Department of State’s audit was conducted back in March and did not receive an answer until July.
Perhaps this was due to the turmoil at the Department – the Acting Secretary is now the fourth to serve Governor Wolf, while both Governors Rendell and Corbett each had one throughout their tenures.
At the conclusion of the hearing, I announced that the Committee will hold 5 additional hearings prior to the confirmation hearings for Acting Secretary Degraffenreid. These hearings will review her role in controversies involving the Department of State including the following:
Watch the hearing and read testimony here.
Update on Election Integrity and Reform
Reviewing committee business with Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia)
I continue to hear from many of you about your concerns with the integrity of our elections in Pennsylvania. My office has been working with elections officials, Republican and Democratic Senators, and other stakeholders on a new bipartisan election reform bill, since our last effort was vetoed by Governor Wolf in June.
The goal of this bill is to make commonsense updates to our election code, as identified in the House and Senate public hearings on this issue earlier this year. Read more about this bipartisan legislation which I have sponsored with the Democratic Chair of the Senate State Government Committee, Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), here. Watch a segment from ABC 27 on the bill here.
I will continue to support efforts to rebuild trust in our elections, step by step, including proposals to audit the 2020 AND 2021 elections in Pennsylvania.
Last week, I had the honor of meeting Frank Siller, who founded the Tunnel to Towers Foundation after his brother, who was a firefighter, sacrificed his life responding to the terrorist attacks in New York City 20 years ago. This year alone, the foundation has provided 200 mortgage-free homes to families of lost military and first-responders.
In honor of all those who sacrificed their lives and their families, Mr. Siller is walking 537 miles from the Pentagon to Ground Zero. I had the chance to meet him when he passed through Hamburg on his journey. Read more about this inspirational story of perseverance here, and watch my interview with him above.
2020 Census for Pennsylvania presents Challenges and Opportunities for 2022 redistricting
A recent article from Spotlight PA highlighted some of the most impactful takeaways from the release of the 2020 Census data for Pennsylvania and the ongoing process of redrawing legislative districts. David Thornburgh, the president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, stated that he sees issues regarding redistricting as a “Rubik’s Cube problem.” In other words: moving a boundary in one district means boundaries will need to be adjusted in neighboring districts.
The two House and Senate State Government committees continue to hold public hearings on the complicated process of redrawing congressional districts before the final map is drawn, in order to lessen some of the hyper-partisan gerrymandering that we have all witnessed in the past.
Read the full article here.
Labor and Business Groups continue to oppose RGGI
This week, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, on a 3-2 vote, approved Governor Wolf’s efforts to unilaterally join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This program would effectively serve as a tax on many energy producing employers in the state. In other states, this required the support of the state legislature. Here in PA, the Governor is seeking to impose these new taxes without the support of our General Assembly. Court challenges are expected.
One of my colleagues in the Senate, Senator Joe Pittman (R-Indiana), spoke out against joining this program due to the impact it will have on many of his constituents and the local economy of the area he’s lived and worked in his entire life, noting the unusual level of opposition to the Governor’s plans from both labor and business groups. Watch his full remarks above.
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