It’s Juneteenth in Pa. Here’s how and where to mark this historic day near you | Five for the Weekend

By: - June 19, 2021 6:34 am

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Happy Weekend, all.

On Thursday, Juneteenth joined the list of federally-recognized holidays. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation designating June 19 “Juneteenth National Freedom Day” in Pennsylvania.

Reflecting on its adoption, Wolf said in a statement this week: ”I was proud to sign the legislation recognizing Juneteenth as a state holiday, and it is past time for this important holiday to be recognized by the federal government, as well. Thank you to the lawmakers who worked so hard to pass legislation this week recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday, and to President Biden for signing it into law.”

Calling for Pennsylvanians to “take a stand against injustice and build lasting change,” Wolf said in a statement, “On Juneteenth, we celebrate the day when America first began to live up to the promise of freedom for all. This holiday is a time for both celebration and reflection. It is a time to honor African American history and to recommit ourselves to doing the hard work it will take to truly build a society that lives up to the American dream of equality, liberty and justice for all people.”

Here a few resources to Juneteenth celebrations happening across the commonwealth this weekend:

As always, your Top 5 Most-Read Stories of the week start below.

Cheers to a leisurely weekend,

Cassie Miller | Associate Editor

1. U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-W.Va? How the Dem Senate hopeful is trying to turn progressive rage over Joe Manchin into votes | Monday Morning Coffee

It takes a little less than two hours to drive from Lt. Gov John Fetterman’s hometown of Braddock, Pa. to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s, W-Va., birthplace of Farmington, W.Va., a tiny coal mining community with a population of just 365 people. Which means you’d really have to stretch your imagination to think it was part of the Keystone State.

But from the way Fetterman was talking to supporters in an email blast last week, and in a subsequent op-Ed for CNN, you could be forgiven for thinking that Gov. Tom Wolf’s No. 2 was launching a very early primary challenge against the Mountain State senator instead of seeking the Democratic nomination for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s soon-to-be vacant seat right here in Pennsylvania.

“Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is wrong to choose to vote against the For the People Act, a bill that would increase election security and access to voting and reduce the influence of big money in politics,” Fetterman wrote in the June 9 op-Ed published on CNN’s website. “To pretend that former President Donald Trump’s Republican Party will act in good faith to preserve democracy is naive.”

2. Imagine what would happen if the GOP treated the 1/6 riots like they treated Benghazi | John A. Tures

A decade ago, there were more than a half-dozen Congressional committees investigating the attack upon the U.S. Consular Office in Benghazi, Libya.

Yet chances are dimming for even a single Congressional investigation of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol itself on January 6, 2021. But Congress should not be barred from investigating an attempt to overturn the election results by force.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is right; we need a second vote, free from political pressure.

As of October of 2012, there were more than seven Congressional probes of the Benghazi attack, mostly led by Republicans.  These included (1) the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, (2) The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, (3) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, (4) The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, (5) The House Committee on the Judiciary, (6) The House Committee on Armed Services, and (7) The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. There’s also (8) The House Select Committee on Benghazi. This list does not account for non-Congressional investigations of the terror attack.

The Poynter Institute’s Politfact found this of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s view of the findings: “As for her comment that there was no overt wrongdoing, just room for improvement, that’s a rosy assessment. But it is also largely accurate.”

3.  What’s holding up Harrisburg lawmakers from making to-go cocktails permanent?

Pennsylvania lawmakers’ vote to cut off Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 declaration this week claimed an unexpected casualty: to-go cocktails.

Since May 2020, state law has temporarily allowed Pennsylvanians to get take out Bloody Marys with their Sunday brunch or a Moscow Mule with their power lunch.

But that allowance was temporary and tied to the existence of the COVID-19 state of emergency, Melissa Bova, chief lobbyist for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, told the Capital-Star.

Ending the emergency, then, also ended this small pandemic perk, to the detriment of restaurants’ bottom line.

A bill to make these drinks a permanent part of take-out nights passed the state House with only token opposition, and appeared on track to fly through the Senate to Wolf’s desk.

But the bill’s unexpected detour back into the committee of state Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, shows the perilous path from bill to law in Harrisburg, and how a simple idea can be knocked off track.

4. Philly Sen. Hughes says he’s ‘deathly afraid’ GOP will squander $10B in surplus, federal stimulus

Philadelphia’s top Democratic state lawmakers are raising the alarm over uncertainties surrounding Republicans’ plans to spend $10 billion in surplus revenue and federal coronavirus pandemic stimulus funding.

With a state budget due by the end of the month, state Sen. Vincent Hughes, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, says he is “deathly afraid” that the GOP-controlled legislature will squander the opportunity to use the funding to address long-term, systemic issues, including many that disproportionately affect African Americans.

Hughes and House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton say Republicans have kept Democrats in the dark about their spending plan.

“The silence, I think, from our Republican colleagues is deafening. … We don’t know what they’re going to come out with,” Hughes said during a recent meeting with The Philadelphia Tribune’s editorial board.

5. Pa. General Assembly votes to terminate Wolf’s COVID-19 emergency declaration

For the first time in 15 months, Pennsylvania is no longer operating under a COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Using its newly expanded emergency powers, the GOP-controlled Legislature voted to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic disaster declaration this week. With a 30-20 Senate vote and 121-81 House vote, Wolf has no power to veto the resolution.

“For all practical purposes, the state of emergency in our commonwealth is over,” Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said on the floor. “Our businesses are open 100 percent. We have had less than 500 cases a day on the average over the past two weeks.”

All statewide COVID-19 restrictions, except the mask mandate, were lifted before Thursday’s vote. But the final vote brings to the end a long, running conflict between Pennsylvania’s elected chief executive and the elected legislature over how to address the pandemic.

Wolf will not be able to issue another order if COVID-19 cases were to rise again either, according to two constitutional amendments voter approved last month that curtailed Wolf and all future governors’ emergency powers.

And that’s the week. Enjoy the weekend. See you all back here next weekend.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.