Jun 23, 2020

Lawmakers Right to End Wolf's Extended Disaster Declaration

Barber shops and hair salons across Pennsylvania have sparked controversy during the prolonged business shutdown. Many have risked crushing fines and license suspensions to defy forced-closure orders and serve their customers. Cindy Schindler, owner of Papillon Salon and Skin Care Center in Lemoyne, says salons could have been operating all along. “When we go to school, we spend many hours just learning about bacteria, illness, diseases,” she said. “We were highly trained in sanitization.” 

But Schindler can no longer serve her community no matter what safety measures she puts in place. She was forced to permanently close as Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown, initially an understandable attempt to preserve public health in the face of uncertainty, has become mired in arbitrary rules and murky data. 

Jun 14, 2020

Working for health of long-term care residents

By Dr. Rachel Levine

The vision of the Pennsylvania Department of Health is a healthy Pennsylvania for all. This includes vulnerable populations like residents in rural communities and minority communities, as well as seniors and those living in skilled nursing homes. 

Since the start of the Wolf administration, we have made it a priority to improve the quality of care provided by the owners and operators of Pennsylvania’s skilled nursing facilities. Many of these facilities already provide excellent care to their residents, and we are continuously working to ensure the safety of every resident in their care through regular updates to guidance and regular inspections, including investigating every complaint. 

Jun 13, 2020

Forced Tolerance Is Intolerable. Time To Stand Up To The Leftist Mob.

When I was a little girl, I distinctly remember my wonderful loving mother consoling me if I was upset about something that someone did to me. I remember her saying, "I'm sorry." And I was confused and would say to her, "Why are you sorry. You didn't do it?" 

I grew to learn what she meant. She was sorry for me out of love, but not offering an apology for the act. These days the apology has turned into a brow-beaten confessional by people who capitulate to public bullying without hesitation only for their own self-preservation? 

But what are they really preserving? Certainly nothing of themselves. They have sacrificed themselves. So why are people afraid of their own beliefs? Why are they abandoning what they know to be the right thing?

Jun 11, 2020

Tom Wolf is No Longer Relevant

On August 7, 1974 Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator Hugh Scott along with Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona and John Rhodes, then the House of Representatives Minority Leader, sat down in the Oval Office and informed President Richard M. Nixon that his support in congress had collapsed and that if he did not resign he would be impeached. Nixon resigned the presidency the next day.

It is rare that there is a specific day and place which can be pointed to as the end of an elected official’s relevancy. Governor Tom Wolf had his Richard Nixon moment on Wednesday, June 3rd when he took what he described as a “real gamble” and walked with protesters through the streets of Harrisburg. 

The “real gamble” had nothing to do with the governor taking his chances of getting COVID-19, rather the “real gamble” was with what left of his credibility – it is a gamble he lost. 

Jun 10, 2020

Wolf Administration Outlines Impacts of Ending Disaster Declaration

Today, the Wolf Administration outlined the potential impact of ending the March 6 disaster declaration while clarifying that the legislature cannot end it unilaterally. The disaster declaration aids in speeding up the state’s response to the pandemic and provides protections for businesses, workers and residents. Importantly, ending the disaster declaration would not end any orders issued by the Secretary of Health that set guidelines for business operations.

Last night, the General Assembly voted to end the disaster declaration with many members claiming their actions ended the business guideline orders. That is not true. Not only does any concurrent resolution need to come to the Governor for approval or disapproval, but the disaster declaration is separate from the orders signed by Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine under the Disease Prevention Act that include provisions for business reopening and for worker and building safety. Those orders remain in place. The legislature did nothing to end those.

Jun 9, 2020

Pa. Legislature Votes to End Gov. Wolf's COVID Disaster Declaration

Today, the Pa. Legislature passed a resolution (HR 836) to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 disaster declaration with bi-partisan majorities in both chambers. Legislators pushed the resolution forward after 2 months and 3 weeks of a shutdown defined by strict controls over information and the highest unemployment rate since the great depression.

“There is a continued need for the state government to respond to the health challenges caused by COVID-19,” said Commonwealth Foundation Vice President Nathan Benefield. “But the time for allowing Wolf to keep our local businesses and communities hobbled without input from the community or from their representatives has passed.”

On May 29th, Wolf admitted to not knowing the reasoning behind the data that his administration has used to justify shutting down small businesses and the stay-at-home order.

Senate Republican Leaders Comment on Senate Passage of Resolution to End Governor Wolf’s Business Shutdown Order

HARRISBURG – Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) hailed Senate passage today of a resolution that would end Governor Wolf’s statewide shutdown, which they said is hurting families and doing irreparable harm to employers.

House Resolution 836 would end the executive order Wolf used to shut down businesses, which was issued on March 6 and renewed on June 3. Scarnati and Corman said the governor has used the emergency declaration to change and suspend state laws, spend state and federal taxpayer dollars without the approval of the General Assembly and prevent shuttered businesses from reopening with new safety measures in place.

Senators Scarnati and Corman offered the following statements on passage of House Resolution 836.

PA House Votes to End Governor Wolf’s Emergency Declaration

HARRISBURG – On behalf of the millions of Pennsylvanians who remain out of work and who are struggling every day to feed their families, pay their bills and protect their livelihoods, today the House passed a resolution to end the COVID-19 emergency declaration with bipartisan support.

“Since early March, Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth have dealt with the heavy hand of government as a result of this declaration,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Peach Bottom) said. “The governor has used the power afforded to him under this declaration without input from the Legislature, suspending state laws, spending money without legislative approval, and his most unfair action of all, shutting down the family-sustaining careers of millions of Pennsylvanians.”

May 29, 2020

Governor Tom Wolf Announces 16 More Counties Moving Into 'Green' Phase Next Week

Gov. Tom Wolf will lift most of his pandemic restrictions in another 16 counties that are home to nearly 3 million people across western and central Pennsylvania, including much of the Pittsburgh area.

The counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Clinton, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Lycoming, Mercer, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.  These 16 counties will move next Friday to the so-called “green” phase, the phase with the fewest restrictions in the governor’s stoplight-colored three-phase reopening plan. 

The announcement comes as the first round of counties are entering the green phase today. 

May 26, 2020

Gov. Wolf Thanks Pennsylvanians for Their Part to Slow the Spread of COVID-19, Centre County to Move to Green

As part of a COVID-19 briefing, Governor Tom Wolf today thanked Pennsylvanians, including the Pennsylvania National Guard, for the many contributions to the pandemic response. He also announced that Centre County will move to green on Friday.

“I personally want to thank our National Guard members and their families for their work, especially during these trying times,” Gov. Wolf said. “Just like other families across the commonwealth, I know our military families are facing new challenges. Some are overcoming these challenges while coping with one parent being away from home due to a deployment to a COVID-19 site. That’s really showing the strength of these dedicated, courageous Pennsylvanians.”

May 25, 2020

Time to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s charade.

Pennsylvania residents are growing tired of Gov. Tom Wolf’s charade of dragging the Covid Virus “stay-at-home” orders on and on with no end in sight. Gov. Wolf continues to deny the efforts of our State House of Representatives to open for business. The residents of our Commonwealth have become an audience in a poor performance of a Harrisburg drama that is being played out at the Capitol, and directed by Gov. Wolf.

Our elected representatives are working to present legislation to Gov. Wolf to open small businesses safely and have appeared for this dress rehearsal for the last two months.

May 24, 2020

It’s time to reopen Pennsylvania

It has been nearly two months since Gov. Tom Wolf closed Pennsylvania’s economy and only days since he allowed portions of Pennsylvania to start to re-open under uncertain and confusing guidelines.

While every elected official’s top priority is the safety of those we represent, government must not needlessly inflict economic damage. Yet, that is exactly what is happening under Gov. Wolf’s prolonged shutdown order.

May 22, 2020

Gov. Wolf Adds Eight Counties to Yellow and 17 to Green on May 29, Remainder to Yellow on June 5

Furthering his plan for reopening Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf today announced eight additional counties will move to yellow and 17 to green, effective at 12:01 a.m., May 29. All remaining counties in red are expected to move to yellow by June 5 at 12:01 a.m.

The counties moving to yellow on May 29 include Dauphin, Franklin, Huntingdon, Lebanon, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, and Schuylkill.

May 21, 2020

Wearing a Mask is not Pennsylvania State Law

Upon being asked last week if wearing a mask is law in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf responded, “I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know what the issue is here, uh, if you want to stay safe, you ought to wear a mask…again, you can take that as something maybe, uh, has force of law.”

After six years in office, we would assume that the Governor understands how laws are created.

In fact, there is no law to wear a mask in Pennsylvania.

Laws are created by two legislative bodies – the House of Representatives and the Senate, who together form the General Assembly. As a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, no mask bill has crossed my desk. Just because our Governor thinks it into being, doesn’t mean he can snap his fingers and make it so.

May 19, 2020

PA Senator Doug Mastriano joins Tucker Carlson to discuss PA Secretary of Health

PA Senator Doug Mastriano joined Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss PA Secretary of Health , Dr. Rachel Levine’s Covid-19 nursing home guidance. Levine required PA nursing and personal care homes to admit and re-admit patients who were positive for COVID-19.

Levine is directly responsible for directing nursing homes to accept virus-positive patients during the height of the outbreak in Pennsylvania. COVID-19 has killed more than 4,500 people in PA, and about 70% of those deaths were linked to these facilities.

Governor Wolf vetoes legislation that would ease some Covid-19 restrictions.

Governor Tom Wolf today vetoed three bills related to the state’s response to COVID-19 that violate the separation of powers and make other changes that go against the administration’s measured plan for reopening the state safely.

Senate Bill 327 would authorize counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county can reopen and includes a provision that prohibits commonwealth agencies from performing an essential governmental operation, the promulgation of regulations, until 90 days after the COVID-19 disaster emergency declaration is terminated unless the legislature grants permission for a regulation to advance.

House Bill 2388 and House Bill 2412 would allow various industries to reopen in red phase counties.

“Since the beginning of this month, my administration has been gradually transitioning counties from the restrictive red phase to an intermediate yellow phase,” Wolf wrote. “The decisions to move counties from the red phase to the yellow phase are based on the advice of expert epidemiologists. These decisions are not based just on the number of cases of COVID-19, but are also based on other critical factors, such as how community members interact, the county’s number of potential transmission points, a county’s geographic location, the capacity to undertake contact tracing, and testing availability.”

Read the veto message for SB 327 here.

Read the veto message for HB 2388 here.

Read the veto message for HB 2412 here.

May 18, 2020

Armstrong County Coroner Calls Out Dr. Levine. Urges Attorney General to Investigate

Breaking News: Tonight in a post on the Armstrong County Coroner’s Facebook Page, Brian Myers, calls for PA Attorney General, Josh Shapiro to investigate the gross negligence Dr. Levine and her department has exhibited throughout this Covid-19 outbreak. Myers in the post below publicly questions the competency of PA Secretary of Health, Dr. Levine, and her department’s staff.

Pennsylvanians deserve an apology from Gov. Wolf

Insults. Threats. Bullying. On Monday, May 11, Gov. Tom Wolf’s video statement featured all three. Wolf launched these salvos against his fellow Pennsylvanians — local elected officials, job creators, and workers in eight counties — seeking to provide for themselves and their families. He called them “cowards” and “deserters” for assessing local risks and daring to think for themselves.

We expect name-calling and temper tantrums on a schoolyard playground. But from the governor’s office, we expect leadership. Leaders don’t keep people in the dark. Since the COVID-19 crisis began, however, Wolf has thumbed his nose at calls for transparency while taking actions that are decimating Pennsylvanians’ livelihoods.

May 17, 2020

This New Normal Will Test Us All

If you ask me what scares me more, “COVID-19” or a “new normal,” it would be the latter. I am confident there will be a COVID-19 treatment and vaccine in less time than we suspect. There’s simply too much at stake. I am most fearful, though, of what the response to this virus is doing to us, our way of life.

As I follow the guidelines to flatten the curve, it seems many people are much more willing than me to concede that those guidelines should be our new normal — one where social distancing and mask wearing is viewed as a civic duty to protect you from me, indefinitely.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry launches program to extend unemployment pay for 13 weeks

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Secretary, Jerry Oleksiak, today announced the launch of Pennsylvania's Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program to provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who exhaust their regular unemployment compensation (UC).

PEUC is included in the new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Pennsylvania has implemented all programs under the new CARES Act and paid out nearly $7.4 billion in total unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Important information about the extended benefits program follows and has also been emailed or mailed via the United States Postal Service to all individuals who potentially qualify for PEUC.

Representative Conner Lamb votes against COVID-19 stimulus, saying bill was ‘not focused’

Representative Conor Lamb (PA-17) issued the following statement following the U.S. House of Representatives vote on H.R. 6800:

“People in western Pennsylvania and all over the country have sacrificed a lot during this crisis. They expect us to put politics aside, work together, and focus on defeating the coronavirus. This bill is not focused, it was rushed to a vote too fast, and it doesn’t help us accomplish that core mission.

May 16, 2020

PA Congressman Scott Perry Calls for Federal Investigation

I just sent a formal request that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Investigations immediately open an independent investigation into whether the PA Department of Health’s guidance to nursing facilities contributed to an increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths in Pennsylvania nursing homes. I will not continue to standby while Governor Wolf continues to endorse and demand policies that harm peoples’ health and well-being. That’s not the Oath I took.

May 15, 2020

PA Senator Doug Mastriano blasts Governor Wolf

In an interview with Next News Network, Senator Mastriano blasts Governor Wolf for extending his stay-at-home order until June 4th. Mastriano says, “The Governor is flying by the seat of his pants. There is no plan.” Feels the Governor is acting as if he is a Monarch. He also criticizes PA Secretary of Health, Dr Rachel Levine for inflating PA Covid-19 numbers.

Gregory Calls for Health Secretary’s Removal, Resignation

HARRISBURG — Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) has signed onto a resolution calling for the removal or resignation of Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.

Gregory co-sponsored a resolution that Rep. Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) intends to introduce. 

“To date, 68% of the Commonwealth’s COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities. ... Secretary Levine also instituted guidance for nursing facilities to admit and re-admit patients who were positive for COVID-19. By doing so, Dr. Levine has put our most vulnerable populations at even greater risk,” Diamond wrote in the resolution. 

PAGOP Chairman demands resignation of Health Secretary

“It is unthinkable that PA Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, would move her mother out of a personal care home, and into a hotel, while ordering nursing and personal care homes to accept COVID patients,” said PAGOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas.

“It is no coincidence that nearly 70% of COVID-related deaths in Pennsylvania occurred in nursing and personal care homes."

"If this is true, Dr. Levine should accept responsibility for this horrific tragedy, beg forgiveness from those who’ve lost loved ones inside these facilities — and resign immediately."

“Pennsylvania families have suffered too much for too long under the authoritarianism, secrecy, and threats of Governor Tom Wolf and Dr. Rachel Levine.”

Gov. Wolf: 12 More Counties to Move to Yellow Phase on May 22

Governor Tom Wolf announced 12 additional Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, May 22. Those counties include Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York. Twenty-four counties moved into the yellow phase of reopening on May 8 and another 13 moved to yellow beginning today. 

With these additional 12 counties, there will be a total of 49 counties in the yellow phase. The remaining 18 counties are in the red phase. 

May 12, 2020

Beaver County Commissioners Respond to Gov. Wolf Saying There will be Consequences.

The Commissioners of Beaver County were disappointed in Governor Wolf’s remarks today and felt it necessary to issue this press release in response. Nothing the Governor stated makes us change the position we previously held in that it is illogical to keep Beaver County in the “red” phase while moving the entire bordering counties and regions into the “yellow” phase. We do not believe our residents will be corralled inside invisible county lines on the map.

May 11, 2020

UPDATE: Mercer County DA, Peter Acker, Drops Citations Issued to Local Gym

Update: Last Friday on our PennPatriot Blog Facebook page we highlighted a situation in Hermitage PA. The District Attorney in Mercer County, Peter Acker, issued citations and fines to PREP Fitness a local gym owned by Joe Joseph. Mr. Joseph opened his businesses in violation of Governor Wolf’s Covid-19 orders.

On Friday at 3:20 in the afternoon, Hermitage Police Chief Eric Jewel and Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker arrived at the fitness center and issued Joseph two citations for violation of administrative code and another for violation of the Disease Prevention and Control law.

Acker threatened Mr. Joseph with fines and even jail time if he did not comply with the Governor’s orders. Acker told the WKBN news that Joseph the owner of PREP Fitness would be fined between $10 to $50 for violation of administrative code and $25 to $300 dollars for violation of the Disease Prevention and Control law. If the fines aren't paid within 30 days, he will be faced with jail time.”

Breaking News: Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman Warns of Risks, Increased Liability with Non-Compliance of Business Closure Orders

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today reminded businesses of the importance of complying with Governor Tom Wolf and Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine's orders – for counties in both the red and yellow phases.

In addition to the critical public health objectives, Commissioner Altman warned non-compliant businesses defying the governor and secretary's business closure orders that many insurance policies contain provisions that exclude coverage for businesses or individuals engaging in illegal acts or conduct. These exclusions may apply to property coverage, liability coverage, advertising injury coverage, and a host of other essential coverages.

Breaking News: Representative Russ Diamond Responds to Governor Wolf’s Comments

I find it incredibly insulting and offensive of Governor Tom Wolf to call millions of Pennsylvanians aching to get back to earning a paycheck and feeding their families “cowardly” or “deserters.”

It was the Wolf Administration that deserted the workers of Pennsylvania who sacrificed their livelihoods and freedom based on a promise that such efforts would be temporary to “flatten the curve” at our hospitals.

They were also promised that government unemployment assistance would be on the way in the meantime. Both of these promises from Governor Wolf have proven to be hollow.

May 10, 2020


The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office will not prosecute citations pursuant to the Disease Prevention and Control Law regarding violations of state-mandated stay-at-home orders and closure orders of “non-essential businesses.”

The Pennsylvania Governor’s administration on May 8 issued the latest extension of its order that non-life sustaining businesses remain closed. The Governor also granted waivers to numerous businesses, allowing those businesses to open while others of their kind remain under closure order.

May 9, 2020

Pennsylvania deserves better

Pennsylvania’s fight against the covid-19 pandemic has upended its economy and rendered one in four workers jobless, all while putting our seniors in care homes at greater risk because of a serious policy flaw by Gov. Tom Wolf.

In mid-March, the governor issued an executive order — he has run virtually none of his decisions past the legislature — requiring nursing and personal care homes to accept covid-19 patients. His order was similar to orders in New Jersey and New York.

All three states suffered enormous mortality rates in these nursing homes. In Pennsylvania, nearly 69% of covid-19 deaths were from senior homes. The difference is that New York and New Jersey have rescinded these “must-accept” orders or amended them to require that covid-19 patients be isolated.

Pennsylvania, under Wolf, has not.

May 8, 2020


LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA – Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf announced her Office will not prosecute or pursue legal action against any local business that wished to reopen. Open businesses must comply with the restrictions set forth in the April 15th Order issued by Dr. Rachel Levine.

On May 7th, Governor Wolf announced Lebanon County will remain under his ‘Stay at Home’ Order until at least early June. This meant the continued closure of local business, and the further decimation of our community’s livelihood. Within minutes, my Office received emails and messages from concerned citizens.

Breaking News: Altoona City Council Passes Resolution Stating that the City will not Cite Businesses for Violating Wolf Administration Covid-19 Order

Breaking News: The Altoona City Council held a special meeting today at 5:00PM to address the closure of businesses located in the City pursuant to the March 19, 2020 order of Governor Tom Wolf. Wolf’s order forced all “non-essential” City businesses to close.

According to Councilman Dave Butterbaugh,  a resolution was passed at the special meeting stating that the City of Altoona will not be citing city businesses for opening in violation of the Wolf Administration's Covid-19 order. According to Dave, the resolution that passed is geared more to warning and educating businesses as opposed to giving out citations and fines. Mayor Pacifico, Councilmen Bruce Kelley, Jesse Ickes, Joe Carper, Matt Cacciotti and Dave all voted yes for the passage of the resolution.

Mayor Matt Pacifico issued a statement on Facebook stating, “ The resolution that we passed tonight states that the City will issue warnings to noncompliant businesses, and provide educational information about the Governor’s order. What we also did in the resolution tonight will place the burden back on the appropriate State Agencies or licensing boards if they choose to further enforce with citations. Essentially we’re saying: “we’ll warn you, but we can’t promise that the state won’t fine you”.

Below is a letter that Mayor Pacifico has sent to Governor Wolf.

May 7, 2020

It’s Time for Rachel Levine to Resign

Guest Column by Lowman S. Henry

The Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a tragic number of deaths in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Here in Penn’s Woods the tragedy has been compounded by the fact about 65% of the deaths have occurred in nursing homes or personal care facilities.

And that horrific death rate can be attributed in large measure to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s policies requiring COVID-19 positive patients to be housed in such facilities. Officials need to be held accountable and the first person responsible is Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine who should resign immediately – or be fired by Governor Tom Wolf.

May 5, 2020

Snitch Line in Harrisburg – Welcome to East Germany…Pennsylvania

By State Senator Doug Mastriano

I was an exchange student in West Germany in the early 1980s during the Cold War, when that nation was divided into a free western half and the oppressed socialist eastern half. A group of five of us (two Americans and three Germans) visited Checkpoint Charlie, the famed crossing point between West and East Berlin.

My German friends tried to talk me into taking a trip into East Berlin stopping at Freidrich Strasse, and then return to West Berlin. We already had a trip planned the next day for East Berlin. But, my German “brothers” would not be deterred, and we were soon on the U-Bahn.

I snapped a picture of a sign that said “Friedrich Strasse” as proof of our adventure. As soon as I took the photo, a fellow in uniform snatched the camera from my hands and called the Volkspolizei (Peoples Police). I soon found myself detained by three Volkspolizei, firing questions at me. Things went from bad to worse when he asked for my passport.

Thankfully, my German host brother – Jorg – was quick on his feet and managed to de-escalate the situation with the compromise that I would destroy the film.

May 4, 2020

Turzai to Rivera: What’s the Plan to Bring Kids Back to the Classroom?

Responding to the state education secretary’s assertion that schools may be closed in the fall, in a letter Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) demanded the Wolf Administration share its plan to ensure Pennsylvania’s students return to school in the fall and continue, uninterrupted, their education.

“The secretary’s comments are irresponsible and raise some serious concerns,” Turzai said. “What is the plan to return our students back to their classrooms? Very sadly, these comments typify a ‘can’t do’ attitude, as if the administration really does not want schools to reopen.”

May 3, 2020

Why We Protest

Guest Column by Dr. John McGinnis
Host of WRTA’s Two Way Radio. Former PA 79th District State Representative

[Remarks made at the Blair County Tea Party Rally on May 1 to Re-Open PA.]

What exactly are we doing here? Petitioning an out of control government? I’m guessing Kim Jong Wolf and his secretary of health are having a pretty good laugh right now—they’re saying, “look at the schmucks appealing to us to allow them to exercise their God-given rights. How pathetic!” They have a point.

Please allow me a moment of nostalgia.

In his farewell address one generation ago, President Reagan talked about America as a shining city … a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds, living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity.

The Gipper summed things up this way: “After 200 years, that shining city is still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom….”

Apr 30, 2020

Matthew J. Brouillette: There is a lack of transparency

By Matthew J. Brouillette
President and CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs

It’s not an understatement to say every Pennsylvanian has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands have faced the virus itself, over a million children are not in school, and more than 1.5 million workers have lost their jobs as a result of Gov. Wolf’s shutdown.

The Governor assures us his decisions are ‘data-driven,’ and that we need to ‘believe the science’ in combating COVID-19.

But what exactly is the data driving these decisions? And what is the science we are to believe?

Unfortunately, we don’t know. For weeks, Wolf has refused repeated requests to release the data behind his shutdown order. He has also ignored lawmakers’ requests for information surrounding his wavier process, shuttered Open Records offices to block the media and the public from accessing information, and failed to disclose the medical experts we are told to trust.

And while the Department of Health provides daily counts of COVID-19 cases and deaths, Secretary Levine has ignored requests to provide data on recoveries—clearly not all the ‘total cases’ reported daily are active. St. Luke’s hospital recently discharged its 500th COVID patient. Earlier in April, we learned UPMC had discharged 130 COVID patients and has had so few patients that it will resume elective surgeries. The number of recoveries and discharges statewide is undoubtedly far higher.

But we don’t know how high, because Wolf’s administration won’t tell us.

Instead, we are told the ‘virus determines the timeline’ for re-opening, and we’re simply to trust the experts.

Apr 26, 2020

Joe Biden is searching for a Vice President. Why Not Governor Wolf?

Something interesting is playing out in this year’s presidential election and it is a perfect example of how identity politics is destroying the Democratic Party. Joe Biden, now bunkered down in his basement, is currently Zooming the internet vetting his potential vice presidential candidate. Biden’s choice is supposed to be announced in the next few weeks.

A vice presidential vetting process and the actual choice itself is always overblown. It gets way too much media coverage. Most voters don’t even care who the running mate of a presidential candidate is. But this is not the case this election cycle. Considering Biden’s age, 77, and his numerous gaffs on cable news interviews lately, Biden’s selection of a vice presidential running mate might be the most critical choice he has made in his political career.

And as usual “middle class” Joe is blowing it. In the last Democratic Party debate against Bernie Sanders, Biden boxed himself in by committing to picking a woman as his running mate.
“I commit that I will, in fact, pick a woman to be vice president. There are a number of women qualified to be president tomorrow,” said Biden, adding, “I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”

Governor Tom Wolf: Covid-19 Press Conferences

Apr 24, 2020

Covid-19 Bocephus Style

Governor Wolf says call the state’s mental health hotline, While the money in our bank accounts are going dry.

Covid-19 deaths are always up and the stock market is down. And you might get arrested if you walk downtown.

I live back in the woods you see, The woman and the kid, and Tiger King on the TV!

I got a shotgun rifle and a four-wheel drive, and a country boy can survive. 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

We work in a factory, a mine, and drive big ol’ trucks. If you think Covid-19 is going to kill us all we don’t give a f#%ck!

The state liquor store is now open but you still can’t get a haircut. If you got to call the state’s UC hotline, buddy good luck!

I got a shotgun rifle and a four-wheel drive, and a country boy can survive. 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

LIVE: Press Briefing with Coronavirus Task Force

Apr 23, 2020

Across the divide: Rural Pennsylvania stares down the coronavirus

By Becky Bennett

Here in rural Pennsylvania, we’ve always had a built-in physical distance between ourselves and others, which has fostered an us-against-the-world self-sufficiency. It may be only a temporary advantage during this pandemic—we know the train wreck is coming—but we’ll take any edge we can get.

Here are some of the ways we’re managing. A lot of us don’t have the kinds of jobs you can do from home. We have the “life-sustaining” jobs that in many cases sustain those who can, in fact, work from home—many of us are garbage collectors, delivery people, caregivers, grocery store clerks, mail carriers and farmers.

Really, the true life-sustaining job in this country is farming. And thank goodness, farmers are still farming. For the rest of us, seeing farmers out and about doing the things they typically do in the spring lifts our spirits as always. But in seeing the farmers this year, we feel, with greater intensity and more fervent hope than ever, that life goes on. The more practical result is that we can get eggs, dairy products, produce and meat locally.

Many other jobs, for instance in construction, manufacturing and retail, are suspended, so those who can work are grateful albeit worried about the interpersonal contact required. (Hopefully, these jobs will continue to prove life-sustaining—rather than deadly—for us too).

We have other things going for us for which we’re also thankful. We find ourselves starting (properly distanced) conversations with, “At least we have . . .” and “If we had to, we could always . . ." There are bona fide preppers among us and we salute them, but nearly everyone in rural America has a prepper streak.

Thus, we say, “At least we have . . . a freezer full of deer meat . . . all the tomato sauce and peaches we canned last year . . . enough wood for the woodstove . . . well water . . . plenty of ammunition.” Yes, guns are involved in our conversations. More on that in a moment.

“If we had to, we could . . . head for the cabin or deer camp . . . ” Camps are our version of second homes in the Catskills or Hamptons. They may be trailers or shacks and don’t have much in the way of amenities other than some cans of baked beans, but they don’t have close neighbors either.

Of course, we still need social connection as much as anyone—and its absence has been a painful rift in the fabric of rural life: no more church services and suppers, bingo, AYCE feeds, meat raffles at the firehall—not even spring yard sales, for God’s sake. No one can go and see a new baby or the grandchildren. Like everyone else, we’ve turned to social media, where, unfortunately, we’re uniquely susceptible to scams, scares and fake news.

There’s talk of getting the gardens started and increasing their size. When you drive around, you see people outside . . . just digging. In the small towns, the lawns have greened up and those whose jobs are on hold have already mowed twice and precision-trimmed the bushes. We’re grateful to be able to go outdoors, walk, look off into the distance, hear birds singing and breathe fresh air.

Turkey season and trout season are around the corner. Which brings us to guns. For rural people, guns are both a link to potential food and a source of security. We can call 911, but realistically, a law enforcement response has always been many minutes or even hours away. It can only get worse in the weeks ahead.

So we’re cleaning guns and target-shooting just to be ready—during the week now, not just on weekends, you can go outside and hear bang, bang, bang all around. It can be oddly reassuring, although it does get old. More ominously, there are rumors of home break-ins and people are blustering on social media about confronting intruders with AR-15s. Sanity needs to prevail over edginess, so nobody shoots a family member. We need to remember we can’t shoot fear of the unknown.

While the pandemic has accentuated the working-class/urban divide in many ways, it will likely prove to be a great social leveler. We’re all in the same precarious canoe. Despite our swagger, many in rural America have been living on the edge for some time, and it won’t take much of a shove to tip us into the abyss. Our open spaces and lower incomes mean a lack of paid sick days, lack of health insurance, and limited health care, mobility, child care and elder care. We’ll need outside reinforcements.

We don’t control our fate, only what we do for each other. We’ll need the help of urban and suburban people, and they’ll need our help—our farmers, our ingenuity, resourcefulness and generosity—in ways we haven’t fully grasped yet. But when we do, may the rural determination to persevere and “figure it out” uplift us all.

Becky Bennett lives in south-central Pennsylvania and is a freelance writer and editor. She was editor of the Public Opinion newspaper in Chambersburg for 18 years. “Across the Divide” examines rural perspectives on issues facing Pennsylvania and the nation.

Coronavirus: Don’t Question the Science or Our Models

Apr 22, 2020

Governor Wolf: Residents in North, Central, and Northwestern parts of Pennsylvania projected first in the state to be released from stay-at-home order

BREAKING NEWS: In today’s news conference, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf outlined a phased approach to reopening Pennsylvania’s economy. Wolf wants to begin easing some pandemic restrictions on May 8 in areas of Pennsylvania that have been lightly impacted by the coronavirus.

Full Press Release: Gov. Wolf: Reopening Targeted for May 8 in North-Central, Northwest

Regions and counties will move from red to yellow, and then, eventually, to green, meaning that all pandemic restrictions are lifted, aside from any federal or state health guidelines that remain in effect.

“Tonight, I’m announcing our plan to slowly reopen Pennsylvania.We will use a measured, scientific approach. We will not just be flipping a switch to go from closed to open. And, ultimately, #COVID19 will set the timeline.

There will be three phases: red, yellow, and green.

Wolf says he is looking to move the less impacted regions in the North, Central, and Northwestern parts in Pennsylvania to the Yellow Phase on May 8th. These areas 
The yellow phase is the first phase of reopening:
Yellow = Fewer restrictions with exceptions
✅ Telework must continue where feasible
✅ Stay at Home restrictions lifted
✅ Retail and child care reopens with strict protections in place

Wolf also announced construction will begin to resume, with limitations and social distancing, on May 1. The previous date was May 8.

Apr 21, 2020

Coronavirus Has Changed My Life

As a Distribution Supervisor of one of North America's largest auto suppliers, I had a front row seat as the Coronavirus crisis began to cripple American industry and bring it to its knees. I witnessed something that I thought never in my life would happen. One by one America's big three automakers began to shutdown their plants.

It began around 9AM on the morning of March 19th. We started receiving a flurry of calls and emails. One by one the four F150 Ford plants my company supplies began to shutdown. Each call directing me to cancel all current and future shipments until further notice. At around 1PM, Chrysler and General Motors followed suit.

A sense of uncertainty began to grip all of us. Truck drivers we turned away were in a general state of confusion. Their companies began calling me to see if I could help get the driver loads out of the state.

As I walked out of the factory that day to go home, I could not stop the overall feeling of shock and sadness that overwhelmed me. I thought to myself, OMG I just watch the titans American industry just die in front of my eyes.

I began to think of all the auto workers and their families. The families of those who work at the nation’s automotive suppliers and how they will be impacted. I was gripped by the sadness of what I just witnessed.

Looking back now that day was surreal. A day I will never forget.

Like many Pennsylvanians this Coronavirus outbreak has flipped my life upside down. It has forced all of us to evaluate what is really important in our lives. As our work and professional lives have been placed on hold or paused, many of us have discovered just how truly blessed we really are.

Coronavirus has forced us to focus on family. It has given us all a greater appreciation of our neighbors. A heightened awareness of just how important our overall health and well-being really is. Although we are all practicing social distancing and confined to our homes, I cannot help feeling even more connected and more focused on my life.

We all know what we lost.  We all know what is at stake moving forward. What does that look like? I feel confident that we will all figure that out.

Apr 20, 2020

Mastriano Seeks Legislative Oversight & Input on Emergency Actions

HARRISBURG – State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) recently introduced a measure that aims to enhance legislative oversight and input on current emergency actions.

Mastriano is concerned about unilateral decisions made by the administration during the COVID-19 pandemic, without consultation or feedback by the General Assembly.

As a result, Mastriano introduced Senate Resolution 323 in an effort to generate discourse between the executive and legislative branches during the health crisis.

“The current decision-making process is not working. There has been no dialogue between the Governor and lawmakers, whatsoever,” said Mastriano. “I cannot recall any Governor in our history who has exercised so much power, with so little accountability or transparency as Governor Wolf. The Governor has not worked with the General Assembly, nor sought to build a coalition with Pennsylvanians, to come up with a plan to intelligently guide us through these times.”

The concurrent resolution was recently assigned to the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee. State Representative Russ Diamond (R-Lebanon) has introduced the House version of the measure (HR836).

Mastriano cited concerns about numerous mandates that have been imposed by the administration, including the Governor’s flawed business waiver system. The criteria that was used during the process has been called into question, and lawmakers – led by Mastriano – have officially requested documentation depicting how those decisions were reached.

“We are a constitutional republic, where power is divided amongst three branches of government, and checks and balances should be in place to prevent any branch from wielding so much authority,” said Mastriano. “It is the constitutional responsibility of the General Assembly to provide oversight over the actions of the executive branch, especially during this crisis. We need to restore accountability, oversight and transparency before more damage is done.”

CONTACT: Scot Andrew Pitzer; spitzer@pasen.gov

Breaking News: Governor Wolf Extended His Stay At Home Order to May 8th.

Governor Wolf announced today that his Stay-At-Home Order will remain in place until at least May 8. After that, Gov. Wolf says Pa. will begin gradually reopening with continuing "hyper vigilance".

Governor Wolf announced that he is going to take "small steps" to reopen state's economy. Curbside liquor sales started today and he plans on lifting the ban for some construction projects on May 8th. Auto sales can resume this week online.

Apr 19, 2020

Mask Confusion Grips PA Residents

So it starts. All of us must now follow the latest Covid-19 edict of the Pennsylvania Health Secretary, Dr. Levine. The edict requires that a face mask be worn by all workers and customers at essential businesses henceforth to, “protect the safety of those life sustaining workers".

So if you show up at an "essential business" Sunday at 8PM and you are not wearing a face mask the essential business is supposed to turn you away or not serve you. There goes that customer first best business practices. Now it is government first!!

One has to wonder if you are wearing a face mask but no shoes or shirt will you be served at this point? We may need more clarification from Dr. Levine on the shoes and shirt aspects.

Failure to comply with these requirements will result in an enforcement action that could include citations, fines, or license suspensions.

Wolf has directed the following state agencies and local officials to enforce orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic to the full extent of the law:

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Department of Health
Department of Agriculture
Department of Labor and Industry
Pennsylvania State Police
Local officials, using their resources to enforce closure orders within their jurisdictions

Now in the land of Dr. Levine, issuing an edict on high of this magnitude is just not that simple. Of course you have your exemptions. Apparently if you have a "medical condition" you don't need a mask. Not sure how that is going to be enforced but ok. Oh and if your are under the age of three you don’t have to wear a mask.

For Pennsylvania residents who are now scrambling to buy face masks, today Governor Wolf’s office has provided us with some clarity. There is an exception to that rule now. When “the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of such goods”.

Feel better now? Not confused any more?

Needless to say this could have been handled a little better by our beloved Dr. Levine and Governor Wolf. Instead of issuing an edict, they could have said we strongly recommend the use of face masks. But they don’t care about niceties or decorum at this point.

Together Wolf and Dr. Levine have placed more burdens on these essential businesses already struggling during this crises and have ordered them into an adversarial relationship with their customers.

Good luck!

Many customers will refuse to wear a mask just because they were ordered to do so. Or they will shop at businesses that will not enforce the order.

Welcome to the new normal in Pennsylvania!