Pa. House Committee could vote Monday to move up Pa.’s April 28 primary | Monday Morning Coffee

March 23, 2020 7:15 am

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
After a whole bunch of back-and-forth, it looks like state lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would move the date of Pennsylvania’s April 28 election — a move that could turn into a major headache for office-seekers up and down the ballot, who are already dealing with a coronavirus-interrupted campaign season.

As our friends at the Associated Press report, the House State Government Committee could vote on a primary bill as soon as Monday, get the bill through the Republican-controlled House this week, and off to the majority-GOP Senate for action. Wolf administration officials have been saying for days now that discussions about moving the primary, which is now almost comically late in the presidential nominating season, had been ongoing.

Speaking to the APHouse State Government Committee Chairman Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, said he believes the bill, which would move the spring canvass to June 2, has bipartisan backing.

“We want to get ahead of the game, rather than the Ohio example, where we pull the trigger at the last minute and scramble around,” Everett told the AP. “We want to do it in organized fashion.”

As the AP notes, “With the virus spreading and Wolf asking residents to stay in their homes, election directors don’t see how they can get ballots printed and poll workers hired and trained to conduct a primary on April 28.”

(Dsw4/WikiMedia Commons)

Meanwhile, it also looks like there’s some movement on a proposal that would allow for speedier processing of mail-in ballots.

From the AP:
“Pennsylvania’s five-month-old mail-in ballot law lets any voter cast a ballot by mail. But Everett said usage of mail-in ballots will far exceed earlier projections of 20% because of the coronavirus.

“To help county election directors process the crush of mail-in ballots, Everett said he wants the legislation to allow them to process the ballots in advance, to verify that the ballot is valid, and then start counting them at 8 a.m. on Election Day.

[Gov. Tom] Wolf, a Democrat, has said that he is working with lawmakers on it, but has not said exactly what sort of changes he will support.”

In a wide-ranging online news conference on Sunday night, Wolf said he had not reached an agreement with lawmakers on moving the spring election, but he did note that lawmakers appeared to recognize the necessity for moving it.

WikiMedia Commons

Our Stuff.
Associate Editor Cassie Miller
 has what you need to know about the rest of that online news conference. That includes Wolf’s answers to questions ranging from when the schools might reopen and whether the state will issue a stay-at-home order to whether the liquor stores might reopen. Spoiler Alert: Everything is under consideration, Wolf said Sunday.

Some 10,000 firms affected by the Wolf administration’s shut-down order have applied for waivers, officials said Sunday. Miller has the details there, too.

As of midday Sunday, COVID-19 infections had spread to 33 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, health officials confirmed Sunday. Dauphin County, home to Harrisburg, notched its first case. Our full rundown, along with our continuously updated map of the spread and our charts tracking the outbreak are right here.

Pennsylvania’s second COVID-19 death is in Clairton, Allegheny County, the suburban Pittsburgh community’s mayor confirmed Sunday.

And just because: Here’s 60 seconds of sidewalk chalk art in Camp Hill, Pa. It’s pure joy. 

On our Commentary Page, a University of Oregon law school professor runs down what you need to know about the new federal sick leave law — who qualifies, and who does not.

En la Estrella-Capital:  Con RGGI, Pensilvania tiene la oportunidad de mostrar liderazgo en la nueva era de la energía. Y miles de empleados de servicio de alimentos están sin trabajo mientras que el desempleo demuestra estar en su pico.

The Inquirer
 has what you need to know about Mayor Jim Kenney’s stay at home order, which takes effect this morning.
Pittsburgh City Paper updates on the latest on COVID-19 in Allegheny County.
Central Pennsylvania distilleries are manufacturing hand sanitizer to get through the coronavirus crisis, PennLive reports.
The Morning Call runs down the status of the stalled economic stimulus package on Capitol Hill. U.S. Sen Pat Toomey, R-Pa., touted its benefits. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and other Democrats, voted against advancing it. Casey called it ‘a rigged corporate giveaway,’ according to the Call.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM explains why workers compensation might not help employees sidelined by the virus.
A drive-in theatre in Walnutport, Pa., became a church on Sunday, serving as an open air alternative, in the midst of the coronavirus, Keystone Crossroads reports. profiles the governors, including New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who are stepping up in the midst of the outbreak.

What Goes On.
The House is in non-voting session this week. The Senate remains on a 12-hour call.
Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine
 holds the daily update on the COVID-19 epidemic. Time is TBD, but tends to be 1 p.m. or 2 p.m.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to BillyPenn Editor Danya Henninger, and Rob Tornoe, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and long time Friend O’the BlogChris Brennan, of Camp Hill, Pa., all of whom celebrated on Sunday. Our belated best wishes for a good day all around.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s some new music from The Killers. It’s ‘Caution.’

Monday’s Gratuitous History Fact.
Today in 
1775Patrick Henry proclaims “Give me liberty or give me death” in a speech supporting Virginian troops joining the American Revolution.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.