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Wolf vetoes restaurant bill as COVID-19 cases rise


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
October 19, 2020
Another coronavirus veto, new cases hit concerning level, today's voter registration deadline, BEES!, and a really big Slimer. Welcome to Monday.

The Republican-controlled legislature continues to try to clawback Gov. Tom Wolf's coronavirus restrictions, and Wolf continues hitting back with his veto pen. In the most recent round, Wolf vetoed a bill designed to loosen coronavirus restrictions on restaurants and bars.

At the moment, restaurants that self-certify to follow state and federal guidelines can serve up to 50% capacity inside. The bill would have done away with the Wolf administration's requirements, including one that establishments must serve food with alcohol. 

“This bill jeopardizes public health and safety as it permits eating establishments, including restaurants, bars, clubs and banquet halls, to operate up to 100% capacity, without having to follow any mitigation guidelines of the Centers for Disease and Prevention or the commonwealth," Wolf wrote.

The Context: The veto comes as COVID-19 cases rise across Pennsylvania. Saturday marked the 12th straight day the Department of Health reported at least 1,000 new daily infections. It was also second-highest number of cases reported in a single day since the pandemic started in March.

Republican leaders in the legislature could attempt a veto override of the bill, which would require two-thirds support in both the House and Senate. The legislation passed with support from some Democrats, although a past override attempt shows that doesn't guarantee victory

It's undeniable that restaurants have been suffering. And when the weather turns, LNP | LancasterOnline reports things could get much worse. Wolf and the legislature have still yet to decide how to spend a remaining $1 billion in federal CARES dollars, though both Democrats and Republicans are open to a bailout for restaurants and bars. 


“If I have time to buy vegetables, I probably don’t have time to cook them."

–– Zulma Guzman, of Southwest Philadelphia, on the struggles to provide healthy food options for her children
POST IT: Thank you, @riehldusty, for this view of Sproul State Forest in the fall. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT: With so much going on between COVID-19 and the election, you may have forgotten: Pennsylvania has a budget deadline to meet in late November. The Associated Press reports that Gov. Tom Wolf and the GOP-led legislature must negotiate a deal after Election Day, which brings its own set of challenges. 

DEADLINE DAY: Today is the last day to register to vote in Pennsylvania. TribLIVE reports nearly 9 million people are registered in the state, a record. Have questions about how you can become one of them? WESA has answers.

BRACING: Nursing home operators are bracing for more COVID-19 outbreaks, according to TribLIVE. "About a quarter of Pennsylvania’s nearly 700 nursing homes reported not having enough personal protective equipment during September," an AARP analysis showed. 

SEEING DOUBLE: ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer report that 372,000 requests for mail-in ballots have been rejected in the state. The vast majority of those applications were duplicates.

MORE FIZZLE THAN SIZZLE: Rock stars returned to York to build a better city. But an investigation by the York Daily Record found the project has failed to deliver on its lofty promises, despite receiving millions of dollars in public money.

» JOIN US TODAYRegister now for our 10 a.m. live interview with Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar on ensuring a fair and accurate election in Pennsylvania.

Also today, don't miss Inquirer LIVE Don’t Panic, Vote at 12:15 p.m., an exclusive conversation with Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman to learn everything you need to know to vote in PA for the 2020 Election. Register here!

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Think your Halloween decorations are good just because you bought one of those really tall skeletons? Sorry but — think again! This restaurant in the Mon Valley went all out with this "Ghostbusters"-themed display featuring a truly great Slimer

ELECTION ADVICE: Are you confused by Pennsylvania's ballot tracker? No sweat. This guide will tell you what you need to know. | Also: Yes, people are allowed to carry guns to the polls. No, not everyone is OK with that.

THE LATEST BUZZ: A truck carrying nearly one (!) million (!) honey bees (!) crashed in Northeastern Pennsylvania on Friday. No one was injured, except a firefighter who was stung on the lip.   

HOLIDAY CHEER: The outdoor holiday market Christkindlmarkt is open in Bethlehem several weeks earlier than usual to give vendors a chance to earn more profits as the festival enacts social distancing guidelines. Get all your holiday knickknacks while the weather is still bearable.

LIVE FROM YOUR COUCH: Art institutions across the state are adapting to COVID-19 by streaming their performances online. That includes the Greensburg Civic Theatre, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Open Stage in Harrisburg

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answer: Abridged

Congrats to last week's winner: Craig W.

Congrats to Friday's winners: Susan D., Thomas B., Tracey C., Theodore W., Chip K., Steve D., Irene R., John C., Sherri A., Lynne E., Jill A.S., Kathleen M., George S., Joel S., Victor P., Patricia R., Ann and John, Heidi G., Karen W., Bruce B., Ron P., Carol D., Dianne K., Chris W., John H., and Beth T. 
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