Senator Argall E-Newsletter

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In this email edition:

  • Acting Secretary Degraffenreid Refuses to Testify on Senate Bipartisan Election Reform
  • Pottsville’s First Oktoberfest on Saturday, Tamaqua Heritage Festival on Sunday!
  • PA Democrats and Republicans have Pursued Election Audits Here, Throughout the Years
  • New Census Data: The Shifting Populations of Berks and Schuylkill County
  • Does Delaying Natural Gas Pipelines Hurt Pennsylvania Workers?
  • Celebrating Three Key Senate Staff Retirements

Acting Secretary Degraffenreid Refuses to Testify on Senate Bipartisan Election Reform

For the second time in two weeks, Acting Secretary Veronica Degraffenreid and other officials from the Governor’s Department of State failed to attend a public hearing of the Senate State Government Committee on Senate Bill 878, a bipartisan bill that would implement recommendations of the bipartisan Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform, after previously agreeing to attend.

When the Governor was studying at Dartmouth, the University of London, and MIT, he certainly reviewed the very basic, fundamental concept that in our system of government, he’s bound by the Constitution to share powers with the Legislature, not act unilaterally like a King. I cannot understand the unwillingness of the Governor’s Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth to appear before the State Government Committee, at a time and date the Department agreed to weeks ago.

The PA Department of State has been a very troubled department in recent years, with a high degree of turnover at its top position – much higher than usual. Both Governor Rendell and Governor Corbett had just one Secretary during their respective tenures, while Acting Secretary Degraffenreid is now the fourth to serve under Governor Wolf.

Pottsville’s First Oktoberfest on Saturday, Tamaqua Heritage Festival on Sunday!

Photo by Lindsey Shuey / Staff Photographer at the Republican Herald

Pottsville Business Association committee members, as well as President Dave Clews, pose with a beer mug cut-out Monday outside the former Graystone in Pottsville to promote the city’s first Oktoberfest. From left to right: front row: Matt DiRenzo, Kimberly Leaswitch; back row: Becki White, Dave Clews, Jim Humphrey.

This Saturday will mark the first Oktoberfest in downtown Pottsville, thanks to the Pottsville Business Association. This new event will feature live polka music, German cuisine, and a wide variety of vendors on North Centre Street. Festivities begin at noon, at the conclusion of this year’s Yuengling Light Lager Jogger.

2021 has been a busy year in Pottsville’s ongoing bipartisan revitalization, with the announcement of a new branch campus and business incubator of Alvernia University, new products at the 1829 Yuengling brewery and gift shop, improvements at the Schuylkill County Historical Society museum, the opening of a new parking garage on Mahantongo Street, expanded passenger train rides to multiple locations, and new efforts to renovate the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts’ historic Yuengling Mansion. The first Oktoberfest is another example of the Pottsville volunteers working together to breathe new life into their city.

Read more about this Saturday’s event here.

Tamaqua on Sunday will celebrate its 37th annual Heritage Festival from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This event features a wide variety of food and craft vendors. Much credit is due to the Tamaqua Historical Society for making this event a hit year after year.

Learn more about everything that will take place in Tamaqua on Sunday here.

PA Democrats and Republicans have Pursued Election Audits Here, Throughout the Years

9/9/21 - Q&A: Stewart Ulsh, Chairman Board of Elections in Fulton County

Many have criticized the election investigation undertaken by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee as intrusive or unnecessary.  Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat, requested very similar information as part of an audit of the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) just 2 years ago.

The final report issued by the Auditor General’s office encouraged Pennsylvania voters to verify their voter registration online and noted that the audit team “found too many instances of potentially bad data and sloppy recordkeeping.”  Learn more about his findings here.

The Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee plans to build upon Auditor General DePasquale’s findings, due to concerns we hear from many of our constituents about the security of Pennsylvania’s elections. Watch my remarks above at a hearing of the committee about what the Senate can do to help restore the trust of all Pennsylvanians in our elections.

New Census Data: The Shifting Populations of Berks and Schuylkill County

Check out the graphs below to see how the population of Berks and Schuylkill Counties have changed since 1900, including the recently released population figures from the 2020 Census. As you can see, the decline of the coal industry corresponded with a decline in the population of Schuylkill County, while Berks County has seen steady increases throughout the past century.

Does Delaying Natural Gas Pipelines Hurt Pennsylvania Workers?

10/4/21 Argall Q&A_JOINT-CERD-ERE

Last week, I participated in a joint hearing of the Senate Community, Economic, and Recreational Development Committee and the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee about the impact of cancelling natural gas pipeline projects on the lives and livelihoods of Pennsylvania families.

I asked Tony Seiwell, the Business Manager for the Laborers’ District Council of Eastern PA, and Jim Snell, the Business Manager for Steamfitters Local Union 420, about how difficult it is for workers to recover when their projects are cancelled, as well as whether they’ve witnessed Pennsylvania workers leave the state. Watch the full clip above.

Here in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, we have seen the economic devastation in the 1950s and 60s when thousands of manufacturing, mining, and railroad jobs disappeared.

Learn more about the hearing here.

Celebrating Three Key Senate Staff Retirements

Last weekend, I hosted a retirement party at my home for three long-time members of our staff: Linda Fetter, Trish Fry, and Terri Smith. The picture above features past and present members of our staff in the House and the Senate.

Linda’s career included 37 years working for Senator Jim Rhoades and me, helping thousands of constituents in my Mahanoy City office. Trish’s career included 39 years of service to the House and the Senate, and she has been my Harrisburg scheduler for many years. Terri helped thousands of people throughout her 31 years working for Senator Rhoades and me with state government related issues, many of them at our office in downtown Pottsville. I wish all of them the best in their retirement! I’m not sure any of their replacements will be able to decipher my handwriting any time soon!

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