Friday, May 28, 2021
President Joe Biden next week will take the wrapper off of his first budget proposal, and the little bugger is expected to clock in at a very healthy 6 TRILLION DOLLARS, or roughly the amount that Elon Musk is prepared to spend to colonize Mars. The price tag will drive government spending to levels not seen since World War II, back when Biden himself was a second-term senator from Delaware.
The Senate GOP this week delivered a counteroffer to the president on his infrastructure plan, so the good news is that both sides are talking. The bad news is you could drive the entire Galactic Empire fleet through the space between the two offers. It has been a while since we threw a Star Wars reference at you, we figured this was as good of a time as any, since this entire debate is fantasy anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had avoided running headlong into a filibuster this year, but that streak came to an end as the Senate GOP blocked a House-cleared measure that would have set up a special bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6. Alas, we may never know if those fun-loving characters who stormed the Capitol that day were just visiting the building or really did want to dismember Vice President Mike Pence.
Back here where things are relatively sane, acting Health Secretary Alison Beam finally spoke the words that so many in the Commonwealth have been waiting to hear, announcing the mask mandate will end on June 28, or when the Pennsylvania population is 70% vaccinated, whichever comes first. Those pesky pieces of cloth that somehow became the most controversial symbol of the pandemic and spawned thousands of fights at the local grocery store will soon be a thing of the past, just in time to save the damned Republic.
Vaccinations saw a jump in Pennsylvania because the newest eligible cohort, 12-to-15-year-old kids, jumped into the game en masse with 60,000 of them getting jabbed in week one. Might as well get your shot now, school is just around the corner! Goodness, we were channeling our mother for a second. We are sorry; carry on.
As more and more restaurants emerge from limited hours and begin throwing open their doors, food shortages have begun to pop up across the state. If you have not yet had the chance to see what a dozen wings cost at your local watering hole, be prepared. You might be better off just ordering the New York Strip with a side of foie gras and saving a few bucks.
The state’s inspector general issued a report on the bureaucratic bungle that prevented the constitutional question on child sex abuse victims from getting onto the spring ballot. Seems like the folks in charge at the Department of State did nothing intentional (and are very sorry), but the systematic failure along the way was, shall we say, fairly comprehensive! The new head of the department assured lawmakers that there is a new process in place to prevent such lapses again.
Governor Wolf and some business leaders are once again calling on the General Assembly to raise the state’s minimum wage, and again the General Assembly ignored the governor. Wash, rinse, repeat.
In early June, there will be two whole days of public comments on the State System of Higher Education’s plan to consolidate itself. If the reaction from lawmakers over the past weeks is indicative of how this is going to turn out, these two days in June might turn out to be better than the Firefly Festival this year. Editor’s note: Upon further investigation, the Firefly Festival is gonna be pretty awesome. Megan Thee Stallion, Tame Impala AND Cage the Elephant? Nicely done, Firefly.
As lawmakers debate vaccination passports and people make asses out of themselves in airports over COVID restrictions, there has been a lot of discussion of whether private businesses can make their employees get the vaccine. The answer to that question, it turns out, is pretty clear. In most cases they can, and many are. The same people who can choose to pay you $7.25/hour or $15/hour can also choose to protect the health of their employees. Who knew?
The Pennsylvania House this week took steps to eliminate the concealed carry permit requirement for handguns that is currently in law. The actual elimination is not a huge policy change as pretty much anyone with a heartbeat can get that permit, but expect disproportionately apocalyptic rhetoric to follow this bill. No elected body anywhere in the country can rationally talk about firearms.
The Keystone State is poised to become the 50th state in the union to allow local police to use radar. Again, this is some mystifying stuff. We trust our police to carry 9mm handguns, shotguns, mace, clubs and tasers, but somehow, we are not quite sure we can trust them with a RADAR GUN! There are radar guns affixed to the fence at some batting cages for Pete’s sake!
According to an informal poll of Triad Staff, one of the best things to come out of the pandemic from a regulatory standpoint was the legalization of cocktails to go. The legislature is moving to make this change permanent, which is awesome. Thank you, legislators.
The folks who have doled out an astounding $40 billion in UC benefit payments during the pandemic are putting work requirements into place for those wishing to continue to collect unemployment. This is the end, beautiful friend. If you are looking for work, might we suggest truck-driving as a career, since there are currently 60,000 of those jobs open right now. We hear that the boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana.
We send a shout-out this week to Independence Blue Cross CEO Greg Deavens, who penned this open letter on the importance of voting rights in our country. Sage words as policy makers dive into this topic across America and right here in Pennsylvania.
As we head into a Memorial Day Weekend that feels a whole lot different that the last one, PennLive’s John Baer gives us all a little to think about.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Chicago, where we were once again reminded that while dogs are the loveable, amazing companions of choice in many households, it is sometimes hard to beat a cat for straight-up bad-assery. Take, for example, this gato, who launched herself out of the fifth-floor window of a burning building, got up, shook it off and sauntered away. We would not have been shocked in the least if the cat turned and flipped off the person behind the camera.
That’s what passes for news around here as we wrap up another week in the cradle of your state government. We will keep the cradle rocking next week, but not until we spend a little time celebrating those who have served and sacrificed for all of us. We hope you do, too. From all your friends at Team Triad, have a great weekend!