In this email edition:
Argall to Governor: Nominate a Non-Partisan Secretary of State
After the recent resignation of Kathy Boockvar from her position as Secretary of the Commonwealth, which administers the state’s elections, I penned a letter to Governor Wolf requesting that her replacement be a non-partisan professional. As the chair of the Senate State Government Committee, I will lead the review of any nominations for this vacant post the Governor puts forth.
My letter cited a recommendation from an Election Reformers Network report that stated, “the problem of secretary of state conflict of interest exists in the context of a country facing accelerating partisanship and rapid destruction of political norms, where armed confrontation over election-related concerns is an increasingly imaginable scenario. This context demands that we address risks and potential sources for flashpoints and conflicts.”
To read the full letter, visit this link.
COVID-19 Vaccine Telephone Town Hall
Due to the huge volume of questions my office has received about Pennsylvania’s troubled COVID-19 vaccine rollout, I will be hosting a telephone town hall on Tuesday, February 16 at 6:00 pm. I will be joined by local health professionals from hospitals throughout Berks and Schuylkill County to help connect those of you who have questions or concerns about the vaccine process to the experts who are best equipped to provide the answers. Visit this link to pre-register for the call or to watch a live stream of the event.
Bipartisan Concerns with Pennsylvania’s Vaccine Rollout
Last week’s joint hearing on Pennsylvania’s troubled vaccine rollout unified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents together in criticism of the Wolf Administration’s efforts thus far. Senator John Yudichak (I-Luzerne/Carbon) noted that our neighboring states of New York and Ohio have both done a significantly better job at vaccinating residents in nursing homes. Senator Maria Collett (D-Montgomery/Bucks) raised concerns about a story she heard of a 49-year-old man with no preexisting conditions who received a vaccination despite not being eligible. I questioned why our state is lagging behind states like West Virginia or North Dakota. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Pennsylvania currently ranks 46th in the country by percentage of vaccines administered while West Virginia ranks 4th and North Dakota ranks 2nd.
After weeks of widespread criticism, Governor Wolf announced a joint vaccine task force to help develop new ideas to improve our vaccine rollout. As Governor Wolf himself noted three times in recent remarks he gave on our state’s vaccine rollout process, we need to do better. Forming a bipartisan, bicameral task force is a good place to start.
A Balanced Review of Challenges Faced by the Wolf Administration
Our state government works best when the different branches and agencies collaborate, especially when faced with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published a balanced review of some of the most controversial actions Pennsylvania’s executive branch has taken in recent months, featuring both supporters and detractors of Governor Wolf. To read the full article, visit this link.
Resources Available to Answer Unemployment Claimants’ Year-End Tax Questions
Unemployment claimants who have year-end tax questions can find answers through a new Frequently Asked Questions page developed by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity’s office. The page includes information on what claimants should do if they have not received their 1099G, how to dispute the amount reported on a 1099G form, and what Pennsylvanians should do if they receive a 1099G because they were a victim of fraud or identity theft, among other topics.
Information is also available on how state residents can report identity theft and fraud related to unemployment benefits, as well as how Treasury can provide evidence that fraud has taken place so victims of these crimes can resolve the issue. The Department of Labor and Industry also has its own FAQ page that covers questions about how to obtain forms, report fraudulent activity and more.
New Fraud Attempts Target Social Media Users
The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is urging social media users to be on the lookout for fraud attempts involving fake Facebook pages and profiles. By creating fake pages and social media profiles posing as department employees, criminals can attempt to obtain the personal information of Pennsylvanians.
A few helpful reminders:
If you have a question pertaining to unemployment benefits, the contact information for the Department of Labor and Industry is:
2021 Trout Stocking Schedule Available Now
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently announced its 2021 trout stocking schedule for all Pennsylvania waterways. This year, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission plans to stock approximately 3.2 million trout in 701 streams and 128 lakes open to public angling.
Trout season will officially open on April 3, following a single statewide Mentored Youth Trout Fishing Day on March 27.
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