While lawmakers in some states are working diligently to try to limit voters’ access to the polls, Kentucky has gone in the opposite direction. This week, the Bluegrass State’s General Assembly approved a measure that would, among other things, put three days of early voting in place, allow voters to “cure” absentee ballots if there is a problem with them, and set up voting centers in counties where voters of any precinct can go cast ballots. The Kentucky Legislature approved the bill with the support of both Democrats and Republicans. Other states should adopt similar measures, rather than putting in place ridiculous and callous provisions like not allowing voters who are standing in long lines access to food and water.
Do you know what the Pennsylvania state song is? It’s “Pennsylvania.” It was adopted in 1990, and it replaced “Hail, Pennsylvania!” If you can’t sing a line from “Pennsylvania,” don’t worry. It’s hardly as recognizable as “Here Comes the Sun” or “Like a Rolling Stone.” In fact, about the only state song that can be readily hummed by the average music enthusiast is “Georgia On My Mind.” For the last 82 years, Maryland’s state song has been a ditty called “Maryland, My Maryland,” but that is likely to soon come to end after lawmakers there have signed off on a measure repealing its status as the state anthem. There have been tiresome cries of “cancel culture,” but c’mon – a song that characterizes Abraham Lincoln as a despot and decries “Northern scum” is more than a bit musty. Consigning “Maryland, My Maryland” to history should have been done a long time ago.
Like most other festivals across the United States, Washington’s Whiskey Rebellion Festival fell victim to the coronavirus last summer. Organizers announced this week that it will be returning this year, but in a scaled-down version. It will be held July 10, just one day this year. Those attending will be encouraged to wear masks and keep their distance, going on the assumption that the virus will not be fully vanquished by then. In the scaled-down version, some of the street theater acts that are festival favorites will do their work in the garden behind the LeMoyne House and the performances will be streamed on Facebook. It won’t be the festival that we’ve come to know for the last decade, but we should be glad that it’s happening. According to Tracie Liberatore, executive director of the Bradford House Historical Association, “If you’re not comfortable, do not come. We will have virtual things. We want everyone to take their health and safety first.”
We can all rejoice in the fact that vaccines for the coronavirus have been developed so quickly, and understand that there is not a dusty playbook that officials can pull out to manage their distribution, since the COVID-19 pandemic has been a once-in-a-century occurrence. Nevertheless, an article put together by the news and investigative unit Spotlight PA that appeared in the Observer-Reporter this week revealed inconsistencies and continuing problems in the distribution of the vaccine across Pennsylvania. The commonwealth has been slow to move out of the 1A phase, where residents aged 65 and older and those with certain conditions can be vaccinated. Also, some rural residents have not been vaccinated at the same rate as their urban counterparts. This week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that all Pennsylvania adults would be eligible to be vaccinated April 19. We can only hope there will be sufficient supply to meet the demand.