In this Update:
Mastriano reacts to attempts by the Wolf Administration and the Attorney General to obstruct a forensic investigation
Senate Doug Mastriano issued the following statement in response to attempts by the Wolf Administration and the Attorney General to obstruct a forensic investigation of the 2020 General Election and 2021 Primary:
“On Friday, the Acting Secretary of State issued a veiled threat disguised as a “directive” to all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. This threat implied that any county who participates in a forensic investigation and allows access of electronic voting systems to “third party entities not directly involved in the conduct of elections” will have their machines automatically decertified and retired before the next election.
Even worse, the directive stated that counties would be forced to pay for new voting system equipment and prevented from seeking reimbursement from the State Department.
The General Assembly is in fact directly involved in the manner and conduct of elections across the Commonwealth as it is responsible for reforming and amending all election laws.
Nowhere in statute is the Secretary of State mandated to make a predictive finding, automatically retire voting systems after third party access, and force counties to pay for that decision.
The authority of such a directive from the “Acting” Secretary is also in question as she has yet to go before the Senate to be officially confirmed. The inclination of the Acting Secretary to act outside of the scope of her constitutional powers is deeply concerning and will certainly be considered during her confirmation process.
The scare tactics last week did not just emanate from the Acting Secretary.
Attorney General Shapiro has made numerous tv appearances and social media statements to threaten costly legal action and make baseless claims about how much an investigation would cost to taxpayers.
Perhaps the AG’s time could be better spent on important law enforcement issues rather than nightly CNN/MSNBC appearances, childish name calling, and tweets of incessant broad, yet empty platitudes. Here are some issues that could use the attention of the Attorney General:
In my letter to request information from several counties on July 7th I clearly stated that the Intergovernmental Operations Committee would be open to any requests from county officials to maintain the security of responsive materials and the privacy of all voting information.
What we are seeing is a convergence of scare tactics from Wolf Administration and the Attorney General to intimidate county officials and obstruct a forensic investigation.
Governor Wolf and AG Shapiro are standing in the way of the constitutional authority of the General Assembly. For people who once lectured the state about transparency and accountability, we all ask, what do they have to hide?
The Intergovernmental Operations Committee will press forward in the pursuit of a forensic investigation.”
Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Webinar
Legislative Reapportionment Commission Update
The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission held an administrative meeting and public hearing Tuesday to focus on staffing, census data, primary election deadlines and reapportionment criteria.
You can view the agenda and video here.
The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that the legislative districts for the state House of Representatives and Senate be redrawn each decade following the federal census. This process is mandated so that each citizen’s vote ultimately carries the same weight in the ballot box. The Legislative Reapportionment Commission consists of five members: two members of both parties and a chair.
2021 Legislative Roundup: Children & Families
Among the key bills passed by the Senate in the first half of the year are several that strengthen protections for children and older Pennsylvanians. They include:
Act 20 of 2021 aligns the Family Caregiver Support Act with federal standards, expands the definition of “care receiver” to add a child being raised by a grandparent and an adult with a disability who is cared for by an older adult, and makes other changes to help families.
Act 42 of 2021 allows a criminal justice agency to share information relating to an allegation or instance of child abuse with a county agency or the Department of Human Services to investigate, or with a children’s advocacy center to provide services to investigating agencies.
Act 48 of 2021 gives the Attorney General’s office concurrent jurisdiction with county district attorneys to investigate individuals who use their position of trust to financially exploit older adults and care-dependent people.
Act 49 of 2021 targets elder abuse by making it a misdemeanor for a professional caretaker to post pictures of care-dependent individuals on social media without permission with the intent to ridicule or demean.
Act 53 of 2021 increases the penalties for those convicted of child pornography and permits the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to increase penalties for those convicted of the sexual abuse of children when the victim is known to the defendant.
A complete list of notable bills passed by the Senate this year can be found here.
State Government Merger to Save Taxpayer Dollars
Legislation merging the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole was recently signed into law.
The new law transfers supervision of offenders and certain administrative functions from the Board to the Department, but preserves parole decision–making responsibilities within the Board. The merger is projected to save taxpayers $29.6 million through 2023 when fully implemented by eliminating redundant procedures and sharing of resources and personnel.
Preventing Child Deaths in Hot Cars
Since 1998, an average of one child per year has died in Pennsylvania after being left in a hot car. All of these tragic deaths could have been prevented.
More than half of pediatric vehicular heat stroke deaths involve children under 2 years of age. By far, the leading circumstance is children forgotten by a caregiver.
The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last look before walking away. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access and teach them that cars are not play areas. And look in the back seat before you leave and lock your vehicle.
Increased Unemployment Compensation Fraud and Identity Theft
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, unemployment phishing attempts are at an all-time high. Before clicking on any link or responding to suspicious messages, claimants are asked to review all verified UC contact methods.
What to do when someone files for unemployment benefits using your identity:
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