WEATHER: Philadelphia: partly cloudy, high of 44; Harrisburg: mostly cloudy, high of 44; Pittsburgh: cloudy, high of 37.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* Coronavirus update: Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill Wednesday authorizing the Pennsylvania National Guard to start getting involved in distributing vaccines and inoculating residents, the Penn Capital-Star reports… Wolf also expressed hope that under his new plan to give state teachers the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, the bulk will be able to return to work by the end of the month, NBC Philadelphia reports.
* U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey voted against confirming former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as President Joe Biden’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services at a Senate Finance Committee meeting, the Penn Capital-Star reports.
* A psychologist and Penn State professor, Brian Allen, is planning to run against U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-York) in the Republican primary, Politics PA writes.
* Toomey’s Senate seat is considered the most likely to flip in 2022 according to a CNN analysis, Politics PA reports.
* The man accused of firing a gun at Montgomery County Democratic offices, Anthony Nero, was taken into federal custody after appearing at a district judge's office in Norristown for a hearing, the Inquirer reports.
* Three politically connected individuals have been handed plush state jobs on key state oversight boards in the last month, the Penn Capital-Star reports.
* The Luzerne County Council is now seeking new election board members after it voted to remove three members, leaving only one left, while County Council Member Stephen J. Urban is still claiming the council didn’t have the right to remove him, the Times Leader reports.
* The former Philadelphia police officer who founded the Protect Our Police PAC says the PAC’s political mission is expanding from Philadelphia to across the nation, Philadelphia Weekly reports.
* Attorney Suzanne S. Smith of York will run for judge of the Court of Common Pleas in York County, PennLive reports.
* Third-grade teacher Jocelyn Rawls will run for Harrisburg City Council, PennLive reports.
* ABC Harrisburg reports on the advances made by women in various elected offices in the Capitol.
* The Inquirer calls on the state to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour if the federal government doesn’t.
* John Baer reviews the challenges facing the Wolf administration and says that Wolf has it better than most other Democratic governors in an op-ed for PennLive.
* The Tribune-Review cheers the reopening of Pittsburgh Penguins games to 2,800 ticket-holders under the state’s 15% occupancy limits and urges fans to follow social-distancing rules so that capacity limits can increase further.
* A Penn Capital-Star op-ed discusses how a pending Supreme Court case over free speech involving a cheerleader from Mahanoy School District could influence students’ social-media free speech rights across the country.
* House Democrats pushed through a sweeping expansion of federal voting rights over unified Republican opposition, opening a new front in a raging national debate about elections aimed at countering GOP attempts to clamp down on ballot access, the Times reports.
* President Joe Biden has agreed to narrow eligibility for a new round of $1,400 stimulus payments in his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, a concession to moderate Senate Democrats, The Washington Post reports.
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9 a.m. – The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing will hold its quarterly meeting, streaming online on the Commission’s website.
10 a.m. – The House Appropriations Committee will hold a budget hearing for the Budget Secretary and Governor's Executive Offices. House Chamber, Capitol, Harrisburg.
10 a.m. – Philadelphia City Council will hold its weekly meeting. Council Chambers, City Hall, Philadelphia.
11 a.m. – Wolf administration officials will outline plans to provide the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to teachers, school staff members and childcare workers at a press conference that will be streamed online at pacast.com/live/doh.
12 p.m. – First Lady Frances Wolf will host a virtual discussion on COVID-19’s impact on the tourism industry and outdoor events and how these sites can be safely enjoyed. Streaming online at www.facebook/onelenspa.
12:30 p.m. – Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin and business leaders will hold a virtual media briefing to highlight how Gov. Wolf’s Back to Work PA plan will help the economy recover from coronavirus through strategic investments.
1 p.m. – Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding will hold a press conference with elected officials to announce the $500,000 Farm to School grant program to provide students with healthy, local foods and give them agricultural experience.
1:30 p.m. – The House State Government Committee will hold a public hearing to review voter registration issues. Room G50, Irvis Office Building, Capitol, Harrisburg.
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KICKER: “They cannot take any action representing the board of elections in any capacity. If that occurs, there will be consequences.” Luzerne County Assistant Solicitor Vito DeLuca on a removed election board member’s claims that the County Council didn’t have the authority to remove him, as quoted by the Times Leader.