Friday, April 30, 2021
Scranton Joe Biden made his first address to Congress as president, marking the 44th time he has been a spectator/giver of such a speech in his career. Fun fact: Biden proposed more federal spending in his speech than those other 44 speeches combined. He also sent Pennsylvania Political Twitter into the stratosphere by simply mentioning Pittsburgh. Imagine if he whipped out a slice of Mineo’s Pizza after. It would have melted the internet.
For three days this week, social media networks, politicians and even one major news network (cough cough FOX cough cough) spent a good deal of time promoting the lie that Biden’s climate plan was going to restrict the amount of beef Americans can eat. No, seriously, this happened. The president responded by going to Five Guys and knocking back a double with bacon.
The country’s GDP grew by a fat 6.4% last quarter, a sure signal that Americans are ready to party and spend money after enduring one of the darkest times in our history (we are referring to the pandemic and NOT the tenure of the former president, lest we get more complaints).
And in another sure sign that the country is looking to cast off its COVID hangover, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that his city will be 100% open for business on July 1. Mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang hailed the decision on Twitter, writing that New Yorkers are anxious to get back to Times Square, conveniently forgetting that most New Yorkers would rather actually get COVID than go to Times Square. He probably gets his NYC-style pizza at Sbarro’s.
The CDC issued new guidance that allows vaccinated folks to cast off those masks while they are outdoors. Perhaps the CDC hasn’t gone outside much lately, but it looks like they may be a wee bit late to the party on that one. There are more masks clogging the sewer at the corner of Pine and Second than there are on people’s faces in downtown Harrisburg.
There is likely to be a gas shortage this summer, says the media. The media also says that the reason for that gas shortage will be that many tanker truck drivers have retired, and the workforce may not be there to fill enough truck driving jobs. Question to media: doesn’t that therefore make it a truck driver shortage and NOT a gas shortage?
Anyway, semantics aside, if you are traveling this week and are lucky enough to have gas, remember that it is National Work Zone Awareness Week, so SLOW THE HELL DOWN!
Pennsylvania is going to lose another congressional seat next year, thanks to slow population growth. This news set off an avalanche of stories about congressional reapportionment, featuring nervous Democrats, already fretting over how the mean ol’ GOP will gerrymander them all out of existence. This may come as a shock to our progressive friends, but Gov. Tom Wolf is, in fact, still alive and still needs to sign the ultimate bill. So calm down. There are other existential crises out there you can worry about.
The state Senate this week unanimously passed a bill that would provide additional funding for facilities that provide ventilator and/or tracheostomy care in the Commonwealth, right after unanimously passing a bill to provide a tax credit for pediatric cancer research. It is almost like if you listen/watch closely enough, there are actually tons of bipartisan things going on in Harrisburg while everyone focuses on gridlock.
One of those places that there is wide disagreement, however, is the fate of the Commonwealth’s 14 universities, which could be the Commonwealth’s 10 universities when all is said and done. A pitched battle has begun over consolidation, which is always a sticky and tough topic for lawmakers and policymakers alike. People, it would seem, do not like change, especially wholesale structural change. At the heart of the matter is one simple question: can the proposed cost-saving measures for the financially strapped system be implemented without consolidation?
A group of lawmakers is pushing a new bill that would allow minor league stadiums to forgo the now-standard six-foot social distancing mandate for spectators, cutting it in half to three feet. Pennsylvania has a lot of minor league stadiums that could use the help, in addition to a NASCAR venue up in the Poconos that we are mighty proud to represent.
Speaking of distancing, the cruise industry is looking to set sail again in July, after a crippling 2020 that almost destroyed it. The hope is, of course, that ship safety precautions will be enough to protect you from COVID, allowing all of us to just get back to regular old ship-wide norovirus outbreaks.
A report from the Pew Foundation noted that some environmental groups are getting increasingly concerned that wind and solar farms are eating away at open green spaces and farms in our country and are posing a threat to… wait, what? When did we start running out of space around here? America is both massive and largely empty in the middle. HAVE THESE PEOPLE NOT BEEN TO MONTANA??
A group of transportation experts who were tapped by the governor to solve our looming transportation infrastructure crisis is kicking around the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax, since the proliferation of electric vehicles is making that revenue source more and more inadequate every day. Sometimes big, structural change is unavoidable, and this debate qualifies.
On Monday, be sure to check in on our own Brendan Schubert as he moderates a discussion on legal weed in Pennsylvania. Brendan will be joined by our friends at Jackson Kelly, as well as State Rep. Jake Wheatley, the godfather of PA legalization efforts. Registration details are here.
And also on our Triad socials, say goodbye to our most recent rock star intern, Sean Coogan. Just another Owl getting ready to fly the nest!
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Daytona Beach, where a woman driving under an overpass on I-95 had a turtle smash through her windshield and conk her on the noggin, causing quite a bit of bloodshed but, thankfully, no serious injuries. The incident prompted her daughter to say her mom has the worst luck, but we are gonna say that title belongs to the damned turtle, which was knocked airborne, bounced off a vehicle, flew over the bridge and through a windshield. Yeah, the turtle wins.
That’s what passes for news around here as round two of the NFL draft kicks off tonight and we spend some time online watching Eagles fans complain about how Howie Roseman has doomed them to eternal failure, while overly optimistic Steelers fans believe every Kevin Colbert pick is a future Hall of Famer. So goes the dichotomy of football fans in the Keystone State! Until next week, from all of us at Team Triad, have a great weekend!