Looking for a summer read? Join our book club | Five for the Weekend

By: - June 12, 2021 6:30 am

(c) Chinnapong – Stock.Adobe.com

Happy weekend, everyone!

Looking for a summer read? The Capital-Star has you covered! A few months ago we launched our own book club on Goodreads and are now halfway through our second book as a group. Currently reading: “Amid Rage” by Joel Burcat.

Anyone who wants to join is welcome! It’s free – all you need to do is create a Goodreads account to get started. You can find our group here. 

Group members can join the weekly discussion about books we are currently reading, view what we’ve already read and make recommendations for future group reads.

So before you adjourn to the beach, the mountains or just the couch, this summer, we hope that you will consider joining our growing group and be apart of the discussion.

As always, the Top 5 Most-Read Stories from this week are below. 

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

1. After a year of Zoom and telework, Capitol staff make steady return to Harrisburg

Pennsylvania is on pace to normalcy. And for some Capitol staff, that means heading back to the office.

Statewide COVID-19 mitigation measures have been lifted, so offices can operate at full capacity — meaning that when lawmakers return to Harrisburg next week, more staff will come with them for the first time since remote work became the norm in March 2020.

Beginning Monday, all offices under Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, will return to the office, spokesperson Brittany Crampsie told the Capital-Star. Though individual members can establish their remote work policies, most Capitol offices will be staffed by Monday, she added.

2. Pa. GOP lawmakers threaten state funding for Penn veterinary program over vaccine policy

A group of House Republicans are threatening to withhold almost $32 million in state funding for Philadelphia’s largest private employer over its employee vaccine policy.

In a June 3 letter, 25 House Republicans told the Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Health System that they would oppose any state budget plan that provides the system with public dollars because the system was requiring all staff to be vaccinated by Sept. 1.

The system, which runs seven hospitals, announced the policy May 20. At that point, 11,000 out of 44,000 employees were not yet vaccinated, PennMedicine said in a statement at the time.

Staff who are not able to be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons would be required to apply for an exemption, similar to the system’s flu vaccine policy that the system has had in place for more than a decade.

3. Even with Wolf’s disaster powers clipped, Pa.’s mask mandate remains. Why?

Pennsylvanians may have voted to restrict Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency powers this week, but it will not impact the single most visible sign of the COVID-19 pandemic on citizens’ lives: masks.

Under current state health orders, unvaccinated individuals should wear masks when they’re indoors, and outdoors if they’re unable to maintain social distance.

Matching updated federal guidelines, the state recently lifted these rules for vaccinated individuals. Under the new orders, vaccinated individuals should only wear masks in some crowded settings.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks at a Capitol steps rally in Harrisburg on June 5, 2021. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

4.Walk as free people’: Conservatives rally at the Pa. Capitol to celebrate referenda wins

As pandemic restrictions lifted across the state this week, critics of Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive actions over the past 15 months took a victory lap on the Pennsylvania Capitol steps on Saturday.

For two-and-a-half hours, about 100 attendees whose ranks included three state lawmakers, bikers, and skeptics of the 2020 election, listened to music, prayed, and listened to speeches celebrating the passage of two constitutional amendments limiting Wolf’s — and all future governors’ — executive powers during an emergency.

“When the governor is no longer acting for our good, it is a right, it is a good, it is a necessity, to rebel,” Matthew Bellis, head of ReOpen PA and an organizer of rallies opposing Wolf during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, told the crowd.

Bellis was among the organizers of the very first anti-lockdown protests in April 2020, which saw thousands of people crowd the Capitol steps to hear speeches opposing Wolf’ and his policies.

5. After colleagues visit Arizona, top Pa. Senate Republican weighs election audit; House GOP says no

(*This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, 6/3/21, to include comment from Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny.)

The key Pennsylvania Senate committee chair overseeing state election law opened the door for an audit of the 2020 election on Thursday, one day after three state lawmakers toured an Arizona facility where a similar process is being carried out.

“We are still reviewing the pros and cons,” of a legislative election audit, Senate State Government Committee Chairman Sen. Dave Argall, R-Schuylkill, told the Capital-Star.

Argall, and his counterpart in the House, State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove, R-York, have key voices in any proposed changes to state election law.

On an audit, they do not agree. Grove tweeted Thursday that “the PA House of Representatives will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election.”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.