In this email edition:
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 Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth to appear before the State Government Committee, at a time and date the Department agreed to weeks ago.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that the 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.
Democratic House Member from Philadelphia Supports Mandatory Minimum Sentences?
Earlier this year, a freshman member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Amen Brown, introduced House Bill 1587, which would establish stricter legal penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for previously convicted felons who are found with illegal firearms. Despite the fact that his proposal faced significant criticism from activists in his district, Rep. Brown argued that this bill was an important part of the conversation on how to end gun violence in Pennsylvania.
This bill was promptly passed by the House Judiciary Committee and is now under consideration by the House. Read more about this controversy here.
Former Auditor General DePasquale Pursued Similar Audit to Senate Republicans in 2019
Many have been quick to criticize the election investigation currently being undertaken by the Intergovernmental Operations Committee as intrusive or unnecessary. What they fail to mention is that 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.
I will continue to support the Intergovernmental Operations Committee’s investigation, due to the many concerns I continue to hear from my constituents about the security of Pennsylvania’s elections. Watch my remarks above at a hearing of the committee about what the Senate can do help restore the trust of all Pennsylvanians in our elections.
My Bill to Prevent Department of State Failures Passes Senate
After an error by the Department of State derailed a bipartisan effort to bring justice to victims of childhood sexual abuse and led to the resignation of its top officer, Secretary Kathy Boockvar, the Senate passed my bill to make sure the department never makes such an awful mistake again.
Senate Bill 764 is based on the findings of an investigation undertaken by the Office of the Inspector General after the Department of State failed to advertise a proposed constitutional amendment earlier this year. The bill will require formal training for the Department’s employees regarding their legislative responsibilities and the constitutional amendment process, ensuring these critical requirements never again are allowed to slip through the cracks.
Watch my remarks on the floor of the Senate below. Read more here.
11 Bills Passed by Senate State Government Committee During September
While the State Government Committee continues to hold hearings on election reform and redistricting, the Committee also met twice this month to send eleven different bills to the full Senate, most of them with bipartisan support. The bills passed include Senate Bill 428, which would move up the date of the Presidential Primary Election; Senate Bill 573, which would expand the requirements for being a poll watcher; and Senate Bill 507, which is a transparency measure that would require the recording of all committee meetings in the Senate and the House.
If you do not wish to receive this email, click here to unsubscribe.