Lower Gwynedd, PA — April 30, 2020 — Senator Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery/Bucks) issued the following statement after a party-line vote in the Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness (“VAEP”) Committee meeting today to move forward with the issuance of redundant, burdensome subpoenas of Governor Wolf and cabinet officials:
“Rather than convening to discuss pressing issues pertaining to veterans affairs and emergency preparedness, such as the alarming 47 COVID-related and other deaths at a Chester County veterans’ home since March 1st or the urgent, ongoing testing and PPE needs of our first responders, I’m disappointed that the Senate VAEP Committee was convened today solely to address a request to issue subpoenas upon the Governor and Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) to investigate the life-sustaining business waiver process.
“Subpoenas became unnecessary when our Auditor General announced this morning that his office would be moving forward with a thorough investigation of the DCED waiver process. Many businesses in the 12th District have fallen victim to the fallibility and inconsistencies in the waiver process. A prime example is A&F Machine Building, a Bucks County manufacturer vital to the toilet paper supply chain, whose waiver was initially denied. And there were classifications within the guidelines that my constituents and I disagreed with and challenged. (See, e.g., my April 2 letter to Secretary Davin regarding outdoor garden centers, to which I received no reply.)
“I agree there is much we can learn from the failures in this process and I fully support the Auditor General’s decision to investigate it. I don’t, however, support the issuance of burdensome and redundant subpoenas that will take the administration away from the more pressing matters of the ongoing crisis. Right now, I want Governor Wolf looking forward at ongoing problems like the availability of testing and the safety and oversight in our congregant care facilities, including veterans’ homes. I want DCED focused on the swift and equitable distribution of additional funding to small businesses with actual losses in hardest hit areas. Issuing subpoenas now that will take people away from the good work of helping our communities just to spend countless hours sifting through documents to satisfy discovery requests is undoubtedly a huge waste of taxpayer money. And it further wastes the energies of the same administrators and staff we so desperately need to continue working to get our Commonwealth back on track for a safe, effective re-opening.
“I am very disappointed in both parties that this conversation has become so heavily politicized. My decisions and votes have been and remain guided strictly by the public health and economic experts, the data from my district, and the input of my constituents and local businesses. To that end, I remain vocal in my calls for the Wolf administration to better target their relief efforts to make sure the money gets in the hands of those who need it the most, in districts like mine that have been closed the longest and to the families and small businesses that have been hardest hit. (See, e.g., my April 27 letter to Governor Wolf regarding SEPA businesses, to which I have received no reply.) This is what I want Governor Wolf and DCED doing right now. My no vote in VAEP reflects the distraction I think launching this type of legal investigation now will be towards the goal of bringing desperately needed financial relief to my constituents and my district.”