Friday, May 21, 2021
If it’s in the New York Times, it must be true. And this time, it’s good news: “The pandemic is in retreat. In the United States, there is now an excellent chance that the retreat is permanent. Victory over COVID has not yet arrived, but it is growing close. After almost a year and a half of sickness, death, grieving and isolation, the progress is cause for genuine joy.” Wow. It feels good to pass that along.
There are other positive signs regarding the pandemic. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is dropping, and the extended benefits program that offered out-of-work people an extra 13 weeks of benefits is being closed down as a result.
And, gaming revenues are on the upswing as coronavirus cases drop. April was the second consecutive month with revenue in excess of $400 million. Compare that with the $46.1 million seen in April 2020, when non-life-sustaining businesses were forced to shutter because of the covid-19 pandemic, and it’s about $120 million higher than revenues recorded in April 2019, when gambling revenues totaled $283.8 million.
Don’t ditch those masks just yet, though. The Transportation Security Administration’s mask requirement, set to expire May 11, has been extended to Sept. 13. It requires that masks be worn in airports and on commercial aircraft, trains, subways, buses, and public maritime vessels, including ferries.
This week’s primary election provides the other big news, and the biggest primary election news was that Pennsylvanians voted to relieve Pennsylvania governors of some of their authority to call the shots in emergency declarations. Voters also inserted the General Assembly into the decision-making process. Although ballots are still being tallied, it appears the vote was about 54%-46% on both of the power-limiting ballot issues. In essence, the move puts 253 more cooks into the kitchen.
Two other issues – a constitutional amendment providing for prohibition against denial or abridgment of equality of rights because of race and ethnicity and a ballot question making municipal fire departments or companies eligible to apply for loans from an already existing state loan program – were approved by comfortable margins.
In candidate-related primary news, winners of note around the Commonwealth included Harrisburg Council President Wanda Williams as the city’s Democratic mayoral nominee, Philly DA Larry Krasner re-nominated to his post, state Rep. Ed Gainey defeated incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Republican Leslie Rossi won a special election to replace the late state Rep. Mike Reese, Lebanon Republican Christopher Gebhard won a special election to replace the late state Sen. Dave Arnold, Republican Abby Major won a special election to replace her old boss, state Rep. Jeff Pyle, who had retired for health reasons, and Democratic state Rep. Marty Flynn won a special election to replace state Sen. John Blake, who resigned to take another job.
Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson of Dauphin County defeated two GOP rivals and in November will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, a Philadelphia Democrat who ran unopposed.
PennLive/Patriot News columnist John Baer weighed in with a few too-early predictions for the 2022 primary, set for May 17, good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. Among his observations is that, for the first time since 1968, there will be no incumbents in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial Pennraces, making it even harder to make predictions about the future.
Speaking of gubernatorial races, former PA Congressman/Trump pal Lou Barletta jumped into the fray for 2022, making his official announcement on Monday. But wait! A day later, state Sen. Doug Mastriano said Trump had asked him to run for governor. Note to former President Trump: here in the Keystone State, we take our governors one at a time.
Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin said he will reintroduce legislation that would allow independents to vote in the party primary of their choice, a move that would tend to give more of a voice to pragmatists in choosing nominees and less to extremists at both ends of the spectrum. Hmmmm. A similar bill was introduced by former Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati in 2019. It was approved by a 42-8 vote in the Senate that spring, but went no further.
With the exception of Our Nation’s Capital, we usually don’t venture very far out of Pennsylvania. But what’s happening in Arizona lately begs for some attention. The Maricopa County (where Phoenix is) Board of Supervisors – Republican-controlled – is going at it hammer and tongs with the Arizona Senate – also Republican-controlled – over the Senate-ordered audit/recount of the county’s 2020 election results. The five-member board has unanimously called for the Senate to halt the audit, which is being conducted by a firm with no experience in election audits. Two previous audits in Maricopa County, where Biden won by more than two points, found the count had been accurate.
This week’s We Can’t Make This Up segment takes us to the kitchen, where we discovered that “cicada snack experts” are actually a thing. So, we present to you a recipe for spicy popcorn cicadas, along with this helpful tip about which insects to choose: experts say that their full adult stage isn’t as tasty, so look for nymph-stage bugs.
And that’s what passes for news around here this week! From your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend and meet us back here again next week!