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on Cloud nine
Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette
Ella Nguyen, 4, delights in seeing a cloud form in a bottle during an experiment as part of Carnegie Science Center’s Earth Week activities Wednesday on the North Shore. Ella was visiting with her family from Columbus, Ohio.
Rep. Joyce opposes fed vaccine passport

WASHINGTON — John Joyce in­sists he wants ev­ery­one to get the COVID-19 vac­cine.

The sec­ond-term Re­pub­li­can con­gress­man from Blair County, who spent more than 25 years as a der­ma­tol­o­gist and of­ten re­fers to his med­i­cal back­ground on health care mat­ters in Wash­ing­ton, be­lieves the vac­cine is the key to stamp­ing out the pan­demic. Mr. Joyce al­ready re­ceived his jab and has re­peat­edly pressed, in let­ters

and con­gres­sio­nal hear­ings, Penn­syl­va­nia’s Demo­cratic of­fi­cials to speed up vac­cine dis­tri­bu­tion.

But when it comes to the mat­ter of fed­er­ally man­dated vac­cine pass­ports, which would be gov­ern­ment-ver­i­fied doc­u­ments prov­ing some­one has re­ceived the vac­cine, Mr. Joyce sees a ty­ran­ni­cal act.

This week, he in­tro­duced the Pro­tect­ing Amer­i­cans’ Safety, Se­cu­rity and Pri­vacy Over Re­pres­sive Tyr­anny Act, or PASSPORT Act, which would pro­hibit fed­eral funds from be­ing used to de­velop, im­ple­ment, sup­port or en­dorse vac­cine pass­ports.

The bill would pre­vent tax­payer dol­lars from sup­port­ing any sys­tem un­der which an in­di­vid­ual is

re­quired to pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion that shows vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus for that per­son to con­duct an ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing to travel or at­tend an event.

The text of the bill ap­pears to go fur­ther than sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced by Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and co-spon­sored by 18 of his House Re­pub­li­can col­leagues ear­lier this month.

Mr. Biggs’ bill, the No Vac­cine Pass­port Act, blocks fed­eral agen­cies from is­su­ing any stan­dard­ized doc­u­men­ta­tion that could be used to cer­tify a U.S. cit­i­zen’s COVID-19 sta­tus to a third party, such as a restau­rant or an air­line. It also pro­hib­its proof of COVID-19 vac­ci­na­tion from be­ing a re­quire­ment for ac­cess to fed­eral or con­gres­sio­nal

prop­erty and ser­vices.

Mr. Biggs’ bill ef­fec­tively leaves open the pos­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ment sup­port or en­dorse­ment of pri­vately is­sued vac­cine pass­ports, while Mr. Joyce’s bill blocks any en­dorse­ment or sup­port.

In an in­ter­view, Mr. Joyce said he sup­ports — de­spite his per­sonal views that vac­cines are ef­fec­tive — a per­son’s right to choose not to get the vac­cine and wor­ries about loss of per­sonal free­doms those peo­ple would face as a re­sult of not be­ing vac­ci­nated. He called gov­ern­ment-man­dated pass­ports a “dan­ger­ous and rad­i­cal in­fringe­ment on Amer­i­cans’ fun­da­men­tal rights.”

“As a doc­tor, I be­lieve that ev­ery

By Daniel Moore
Post-Gazette Washington Bureau
Believes in shot but not having to prove it
Your guide to Pa.’s
2021 ballot questions

All Penn­syl­va­nia vot­ers — yes, that in­cludes in­de­pen­dents and mi­nor-party mem­bers — will be asked to con­sider four bal­lot ques­tions on May 18. Two of them are about as non­con­tro­ver­sial as pos­si­ble. The other two? A dif­fer­ent story. Be­low, Spot­light PA breaks down the ba­sics of what they would do, who is in fa­vor, and who is op­posed.

Ques­tion 1

What would it do? This is a state­wide ref­er­en­dum (as op­posed to a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment) that would al­low mu­nic­i­pal fire de­part­ments or com­pa­nies with paid per­son­nel, as well as EMS com­pa­nies, to ap­ply for a loan through an ex­ist­ing state-run pro­gram for vol­un­teer com­pa­nies. The money can be used to mod­ern­ize or pur­chase equip­ment.

Who is in fa­vor? The mea­sure passed the Leg­is­la­ture with unan­i­mous sup­port from Dem­o­crats and Re­pub­li­cans. The Penn­syl­va­nia Fire Emer­gency Ser­vices In­sti­tute is urg­ing a “yes” vote, as is the Penn­syl­va­nia Ca­reer Fire Chiefs As­so­ci­a­tion.

Who is op­posed? Spot­light PA could not iden­tify any op­po­nents.

Ques­tion 2

What would it do? Cur­rently, only Penn­syl­va­nia’s gov­er­nor can end a di­sas­ter dec­la­ra­tion, like the one the state is cur­rently un­der to deal with the cor­o­navi­rus pan­demic. State law gives the Gen­eral As­sem­bly the op­tion to pass a res­o­lu­tion to ter­mi­nate the dec­la­ra­tion, al­though the state Supreme Court ruled last year the gov­er­nor still gets the fi­nal say. The Leg­is­la­ture can over­turn a gov­er­nor’s veto with sup­port from two-thirds of mem­bers.

This pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment would al­low a ma­jor­ity of law­mak­ers to ter­mi­nate the dec­la­ra­tion at any time, with­out the gov­er­nor’s con­sent. What hap­pens af­ter that is the mat­ter of some de­bate.

Who is in fa­vor? This pro­posal, born out of a con­ten­tious re­sponse to the Wolf ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to the pan­demic, has been cham­pi­oned by the House and Senate Re­pub­li­can cau­cuses, with sup­port from a few Dem­o­crats.

The Penn­syl­va­nia chap­ter of the con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal group Amer­i­cans for Pros­per­ity has also launched a cam­paign to urge a “yes” vote on the ques­tion.

Who is op­posed? Most Dem­o­crats in­clud­ing Gov. Tom Wolf are urg­ing Penn­syl­va­nians to vote “no,” as is the grass­roots Demo­cratic group Turn PA

Sarah Anne Hughes
Spotlight PA
B-PEP calls on officials to ‘immediately’ end various traffic stops

The Black Po­lit­i­cal Em­pow­er­ment Proj­ect is call­ing for changes in lo­cal po­lic­ing and ask­ing that sev­eral types of po­lice traf­fic stops be halted “im­me­di­ately” to avoid trag­e­dies like the re­cent death of Daunte Wright out­side Min­ne­ap­o­lis.

Tim Stevens, B-PEP chair­man and CEO, is­sued a state­ment Tues­day — the same day that for­mer Min­ne­ap­o­lis po­lice Of­fi­cer Derek Chau­vin was found guilty of mur­der­ing an­other Black man, George Floyd — di­rected at Pitts­burgh po­lice, Mayor Bill Peduto’s of­fice and other city and county of­fi­cials. In it, Mr. Stevens ac­knowl­edged that city po­lice have al­ready be­gun re­view­ing their use-of-force pol­i­cies, but he urged them to make that re­view an even “higher pri­or­ity.”

“We are call­ing for po­lit­i­cal lead­ers and the heads of po­lice de­part­ments in Pitts­burgh and Al­le­gheny County to help pre­vent fu­ture un­nec­es­sary ar­rests and deaths re­sult­ing from what his­tor­i­cally has been re­ferred to as ‘rou­tine traf­fic stops,’ ” Mr. Stevens said in the state­ment. “The Black Po­lit­i­cal Em­pow­er­ment Proj­ect is in fact urg­ing all po­lice de­part­ments in our area to take what­ever steps are nec­es­sary to im­me­di­ately sus­pend traf­fic stops.”

Wright was shot and killed by Min­ne­ap­o­lis po­lice on April 11 af­ter be­ing pulled over due to an ex­pired ve­hi­cle reg­is­tra­tion. And while Floyd’s death didn’t oc­cur dur­ing a traf­fic stop — his in­ter­ac­tion with po­lice be­gan when he was ques­tioned about a coun­ter­feit bill — much of Mr. Stevens’ state­ment was framed in the con­text of the Black com­mu­nity be­ing dis­pro­por­tion­ately tar­geted by po­lice.

In its re­quest, B-PEP asked that po­lice dis­con­tinue traf­fic stops for the fol­low­ing in­frac­tions: out-of-date tags or plates; bro­ken tail­lights; par­tially ob­scured li­cense plates; fail­ure to use turn sig­nals; fail­ure to stop at stop signs; go­ing through stop lights; fail­ure to obey “yield” signs; driv­ing over the speed limit; fail­ure to slow down in and around con­struc­tion sites; pass­ing in a “no pass­ing” zone; fail­ure to stop at a rail­road cross­ing; ig­nor­ing “No U Turn” signs; fail­ure to stop for a pe­des­trian in a cross­walk; and fail­ure to stop for school buses with flash­ing red lights.

A spokes­man with Mr. Peduto’s of­fice de­clined to com­ment di­rectly on B-PEP’s de­mands.

“Mayor Peduto has long worked with Tim Stevens and B-PEP on po­lice re­form is­sues and will re­view their lat­est re­quest,” may­oral spokes­man Tim­o­thy McNulty said via email Wed­nes­day.

By Lacretia Wimbley
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Councilwoman Deb Gross endorses Peduto challenger Gainey for mayor

Buck­ing her col­leagues on Pitts­burgh City Coun­cil to be­come the only mem­ber to en­dorse the sit­ting mayor’s pri­mary chal­lenger, Coun­cil­woman Deb Gross said state Rep. Ed Gainey should be the next mayor be­cause he’d take ac­tion on the press­ing is­sues fac­ing the city and not just talk about them.

Ms. Gross, who rep­resents coun­cil’s 7th Dis­trict, said Pitts­bur­ghers de­serve a mayor they can trust and who trusts them back, and one who will lis­ten to them.

That’s Mr. Gainey, she said, and not Mayor Bill Peduto.

In mak­ing her an­nounce­ment Wed­nes­day night, the coun­cil­woman de­scribed a city that is chang­ing rap­idly, with some neigh­bor­hoods see­ing mas­sive de­vel­op­ment in re­cent years — to the tune of mil­lions of dol­lars — while oth­ers suf­fer from blight, aban­don­ment and dis­in­vest­ment.

“What we need to do now is take ac­tion. We’ve had plans. We’ve had re­ports. We’ve had task forces. But

we have not seen ac­tion,” Ms. Gross said at a news con­fer­ence in Law­renceville, “and we’ve waited long enough.”

As his cam­paign deemed Ms. Gross the city’s “most pro­gres­sive coun­cil­woman,” Mr. Gainey claimed the in­cum­bent mayor has run an ad­min­is­tra­tion of bro­ken prom­ises over two terms, and claimed his op­po­nent hasn’t kept his word on bring­ing af­ford­able hous­ing to the city, bet­ter­ing po­lice-com­mu­nity re­la­tions and cre­at­ing an eq­ui­ta­ble city for Black and white res­i­dents.

By Julian Routh
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Butler newspaper sues Google, Facebook for harm to ad sales

The But­ler Eagle is the lat­est news­pa­per to sue Google and Face­book on an­ti­trust grounds, say­ing the two dig­i­tal be­he­moths con­trol most of the dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing in the U.S. and are threat­en­ing the sur­vival of news­pa­pers by si­phon­ing off ad rev­e­nue.

The pa­per, which does busi­ness as Eagle Print­ing Co. and also pub­lishes the Cran­berry Eagle, filed the suit Mon­day in fed­eral court in Pitts­burgh and is

ask­ing a judge to en­ter an or­der de­clar­ing the com­pa­nies’ ac­tions il­le­gal.

The suit also asks for tri­ple dam­ages for di­rect harm suf­fered by the news­pa­per at the hands of the two gi­ants.

News­pa­pers around the coun­try have in re­cent years filed sim­i­lar suits chal­leng­ing the dom­i­nance of Google and Face­book, with many say­ing the tra­di­tion of a free press in Amer­ica is at risk with­out gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion.

By Torsten Ove
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Andrew Rush/Post-Gazette

It’s April, right? Snow cov­ers the green of spring on some trees in Brigh­ton Heights af­ter a snow­storm on Wed­nes­day.