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(WKBN) – Gov. Tom Wolf criticized Republican legislators, who he said are undermining his COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
He said some legislators are “playing politics” with the virus. During a news conference Thursday, he called on the legislature to pass his government reform plan “to rein in special interests and hold politicians accountable.”
Wolf said his efforts have earned the praise of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 coordinator as well as researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.
A federal judge recently ruled that some of Wolf’s pandemic restrictions were unconstitutional, striking them down.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman, IV, an appointee of President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling that the Wolf administration’s pandemic policies have been overreaching, arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights.
Wolf said, however, that everything he is doing is to save lives.
“The driving force of the mitigation efforts in Pennsylvania and other states is to save lives,” said Wolf. “Everything that my administration has done is based on the most up-to-date research on COVID-19, and it is working. We must not allow these Harrisburg political games to distract us from fighting this virus, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and social distancing.”
Governor Wolf’s Government Reform Plan includes:
- Banning Gifts for Public Officials: Gov. Wolf says he has banned members of his administration from accepting gifts and believes that all public officials should be held to the same standard. Pennsylvania is one of 10 states with no specific law limiting gifts to public officials. Outside the executive branch, politicians in Harrisburg can take unlimited gifts from special interests, Wolf said.
- Campaign Finance Reform: Enacting new campaign finance laws that would place limits on contributions to candidates seeking elected office, implement aggregate limits for races, place “sensible restrictions” on Political Action Committees (PACs), and strengthen reporting and disclosure requirements.
- Outside Income Transparency: Requiring public officials to disclose sources, type of work and amount of outside income received.
The governor was joined by Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.
“Transparency in government is essential to a healthy and strong democracy. That’s why Common Cause works to strengthen transparency laws across the country,” said Almeida. “Secret spending erodes people’s trust in government and that trust is more important now than it has ever been. Transparency promotes accountability and makes it possible for voters to make informed decisions.”