MLK Day of Service takes a new form amid pandemic | Five for the Weekend

By: - January 16, 2021 6:30 am

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Happy Weekend, all.

On Monday, Jan. 18. we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day of community service and giving back.

While we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the ways in which we volunteer and serve our communities has had to adapt to the changes, as well.

For those interested, there are in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities available.

You can find volunteer opportunities here. 

In this article, Real Simple lists a few ways individuals looking to put some good juju back in the universe can help out while practicing COVID mitigation measures.

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

Enjoy your weekend,
Cassie Miller, Associate Editor

1. Capitol siege lays bare GOP electoral misinformation in Harrisburg

As President Donald Trump egged on his supporters and called for a “fight” before they marched to the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, he cited a false statistic that traces its origins back to Harrisburg.

“Pennsylvania had 205,000 more votes than you had voters,” Trump falsely claimed.

The president’s false claim can be traced back to a Dec. 28 letter signed by 17 of the state’s Republican lawmakers, who used incomplete data to claim that the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results was ”premature, unconfirmed, and in error.”

The Pennsylvania Department of State responded to the letter, which originated from Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, the next day, laying out the flaws in their methodology.

But that response was too late. Earlier that morning, Trump had tweeted the findings out to his millions of followers, claiming it as evidence in his futile effort to deny his loss to President-elect Joe Biden.

2. Pa. House GOP pushes measure to restrict Wolf emergency response, remake judiciary

Republicans leadership pitched a sunny new attitude this week as lawmakers returned to Harrisburg to take up their duties again.

“We want to think about what’s going on in the future. Some might want to dwell on the past,” House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said at a press conference Tuesday.

His remarks proved telling. The very next day, on Wednesday, House committees moved to resolve two long simmering grievances over the separations of powers in Pennsylvania state government with a pair of constitutional amendments that could impact state politics for decades to come.

Combined, they address concerns the GOP-controlled General Assembly has raised with the state’s Democratic judiciary and executive branches, concerns that have boiled over this year in light of the 2020 election and COVID-19 pandemic.

And both could be put to voters as soon as this May for final adoption into the commonwealth’s governing document.

3. Scott Perry tried to take away the votes of thousands of Pa. residents. They deserve an explanation | Opinion

This is an open letter to U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District.

Dear Rep. Perry:

Officer Brian Sicknick died of injuries sustained protecting you and your colleagues on January 6.

Sicknick was 42 years-old when he died. He was a member of the Air Force National Guard and a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police.  And, according to news reports, a supporter of President Trump.

His death now brings the total number of those killed during the attack on the U.S. Capitol to five.  Among the other four who died was a man from Pennsylvania. These deaths are in addition to the over 50 U.S. Capitol police officers injured.

Can you please tell me – – tell all your constituents – –  how this happened?

4. Pa. Senate Republicans need to seat Sen. Jim Brewster | Bruce Ledewitz

The refusal of the state Senate’s Republican majority to seat Democrat Jim Brewster after his election victory in the 45th District makes no legal sense.

Brewster won a 69-vote victory that was certified by state election officials based on a ruling by the State Supreme Court concerning counting contested ballots in Philadelphia and Allegheny County. Under state law, Brewster is the winner. There is no legal authority for the Republicans to second guess the election result.

The Pennsylvania Constitution provides that “[e]ach House…shall judge of the election and qualifications of its members.”

But, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in an analogous case in 1969, Powell v. McCormack, such a power must be narrowly construed. Unlike the 2/3 vote expulsion power, which the Pennsylvania Constitution also confers on each House, the General Assembly may only judge whether a member meets the formal criteria of election.

5. As Mastriano faces calls to resign, Senate GOP leaders say they have ‘no cause’ to make him

Senate Republican leaders said Thursday they did not have cause to censure one of their members who attended a protest at the U.S. Capitol and has waged a disinformation campaign against Pennsylvania’s election results.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, issued a statement Thursday afternoon defending the right of Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, to attend the Wednesday pro-Trump protest that spawned a violent takeover of the U.S Capitol building.

Corman said he would not heed the calls of his Democratic colleagues, who said Mastriano’s attendance at the protest and his embrace of conspiracy theories about the presidential election disqualified him from serving in the Senate.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you back here next week. 

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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.