December 17, 2021
We kick off our missive this week by sending our condolences to all who lost family and friends in the horrific storms in Kentucky and across the Midwest this week. If you are searching for some ways to celebrate the holidays, please consider reaching out to the Red Cross and parting with a few bucks.
The U.S. Senate temporarily shelved the filibuster in order to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. We can only assume this is the end of democracy, as we have been told repeatedly that the filibuster was the only thing standing between us and communism. It was nice while it lasted.
President Biden expressed optimism that his Build Back Better plan will become law in a few weeks. Alternate President Joe Manchin responded, “Aw, he’s so cute.”
If you live in Pennsylvania and didn’t spend Thursday under a large rock, you know that the Legislative Reapportionment Commission released the new maps. Based upon a quick inspection by our experts, 2022 looks like it will be the most interesting legislative election year in recent memory. The 30-day public comment period is open, and we expect LOTS of comments and perhaps some profanity.
The legislature wrapped up its 2021 business this week by passing a flurry of bills. First, the House sent the Senate a constitutional amendment bill that institutes voter ID requirements, mandates post-election audits and limits the timeframe of gubernatorial executive orders. The power struggle between the executive and legislative branches of government is reaching UFC-fight levels in Harrisburg.
There was also some real bipartisanship on display, however brief, as the legislature sent Governor Wolf a bill that will set up the framework for high-speed internet deployment across the state. This one was a long time coming and both sides of the aisle spent some time slapping each other on the back before they resumed just simply slapping each other.
Perhaps the most pitched battle of the week came on a vote to override the governor’s veto of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulation. A few Democrats joined the entire GOP in voting to override the veto, but the vote ultimately fell short of the two-thirds necessary. RGGI continues to be the legislative version of Rasputin, except that it hasn’t drowned yet.
Health officials are warning Pennsylvanians to not have indoor Christmas celebrations this year due to the COVID surge. In most years, this would present quite a problem, but since it’s been 60 degrees outside all week, you can go ahead and celebrate Christmas in the yard.
The state Senate narrowly passed a measure legalizing the sale of some to-go, pre-packaged cocktails outside of the state store system’s iron grasp. Soon you may be able to grab some to-go cocktails so that you can sip them in your yard at your outdoor Christmas party.
The state Senate also advanced a measure that would move up the primary elections in Pennsylvania during presidential election years. Because, you know, who cares what Iowa and New Hampshire think? Glory hogs.
On the heels of the Wolf administration’s mask mandate being scuttled by the courts, most school districts have quickly moved to making masks optional. We are hopeful that this will make perpetually outraged people stop coming to school board meetings and causing ruckuses. Nobody like ruckuses, especially public servants who don’t get paid to deal with ruckuses.
With mask use on the wane across the Commonwealth, health officials are pointing out that the regular old flu is coming out of the gate this year like a Derby favorite. Seems like masks were multi-tasking the entire time and we didn’t even know it! Efficient little buggers!
If you wanna eat at a restaurant in Philly, you will need to provide proof of vaccination. The new policy is just like the one recently put in place in New York City, where a bunch of people just got arrested for trying to get into an Applebee’s sans vaccinations. We totally understand trying to make a political point but really? Applebee’s is the hill you are gonna die on? The bourbon steak ain’t that good.
Pittsburgh’s north shore is about to become home to a brand new mixed-use development that will feature a 170-foot-tall Ferris wheel, because who the hell doesn’t wanna see a giant Ferris wheel in the city? Did you know that the Ferris wheel was the invention of Pittsburgh engineer G.W. Ferris? WELL NOW YOU DO!
Over on the Triad socials this week, come help us bid farewell to intern Cameron as he wraps up his time at Team Triad.
In our We Can’t Make This Up segment this week, we take you to Wisconsin, where a team of college professors has discovered that sharks have antibodies that make them immune to COVID. This means that shark-infested waters are the safest place to be of you don’t wanna catch COVID, although the downside is that you might get eaten by a shark instead. Life is full of difficult choices, people.
That’s what passes for news around here as General Assembly members went home to presumably get nestled snug in their beds, with visons of new legislative boundaries dancing in their heads. Until the next time we meet, have a great weekend!