Pennsylvanians go for gold in Tokyo | 5 for the weekend

Have a nice weekend everyone.

That Olympic Summer Games 2020 (of course 2021) officially began in Tokyo on Friday when Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lit the kettle.

While this year’s Olympic Games look different than in previous years, more than 600 American athletes have traveled to Japan to compete in their respective sports, including 21 who comes from the Keystone state.

From baseball and rugby players to rowers and archers, some of the best and brightest Pennsylvanias will take to the stage (field, court, etc) in Japan in the next two weeks.

You can learn more about Pennsylvania’s 2020 Olympians here and here.

But before you start cheering Team USA, You may have noticed on Thursday that our website looks a little different.

We switched to a new website design that we hope it will be easier to navigate and more user-friendly. Don’t hesitate to browse the website between events this weekend.

As always, this week’s top 5 stories are below.

The Harrisburg Capitol (Capital Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

1. Pa. GOP lawmaker is considering constitutional amendment to avoid veto and restrict senior health officials

With a new approach to passing laws, Republicans in the GOP-controlled legislature are now trying to restrict the state’s top health official through the constitutional amendment process.

The latest attempt to avoid a governor’s veto comes from Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Fayette, who announced plans for a change in a memo on Friday to colleagues that would curtail the Pennsylvania’s health minister’s emergency powers.

Describing the March 2020 statewide shutdown and subsequent efforts to contain COVID-19 as “unilateral orders from an unelected bureaucrat that violated their rights and ceased business,” Warner said lawmakers should have a say on emergency measures and orders have public health.

Love Park in Philadelphia (Photo via Flickr Commons)

2. Philly sees a “small but real spike” in COVID-19 cases, the city’s top doc says

According to the city’s top doctor, the number of COVID-19 cases will most likely increase slightly due to the Delta variant.

Philadelphia’s vaccination rate – 60.4 percent of the city’s adults are fully vaccinated – will help protect the city, said incumbent Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole on Monday.

Philadelphia has recorded an average of 56 new cases of COVID-19 per day over the past two weeks, according to city health officials.

“We’ve been watching the number of COVID cases increase in other states lately, most likely due to the Delta variant, and now it looks like we’re seeing a small but real increase here in Philadelphia,” Bettigole said in a statement her office issued on Monday.

Former Pennsylvania State Representative Rick Saccone (Facebook screenshot)

3. Former US State MP Rick Saccone has made an offer for the lieutenant governor

Former State Representative Rick Saccone did not have the smoothest transitions after serving in Harrisburg. In 2018, he lost a special election to US MP Conor Lamb, D-17th, in a district that former President Trump was 20 points ahead of. Saccone also started a blog called “Veritas 007” and filled it with arch-conservative ramblings and conspiracy theories.

Then, on January 6, Saccone posted a photo of himself and State Senator Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, with a group of insurgents outside the Capitol gates. This resulted in Saccone losing his job at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe.

But these weaknesses did not stop Saccone’s political ambitions. According to statewide political news site PoliticsPA, Saccone said he was keen to run for the open office of lieutenant governor in 2022.

“There are many excellent candidates running for governor and senate, but the field for Lt. The governor seems to be pretty open, ”Saccone wrote in a written statement to PoliticsPA. “Yes, I am carefully considering running for Lt. Governor.”

State Universities of Pa. (Via the PASSHE website)

4th Pa. State System unanimously resolves to consolidate six schools into regional campuses

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors approved the most transformative reorganization in the system’s 38-year history when it voted on Wednesday to consolidate six state universities into two regional campuses.

The unanimous vote, following weeks of heated public debate, will make Bloomsburg, Lock Haven and Mansfield Universities in the northeast and California, Clarion and Edinboro in the west a single institution.

The decision ends years of lobbying to combat falling enrollment and rising tuition fees; “However, it is a journey that will take us years to complete,” said CEO Cindy Shapira.

As per the approved plan, each of the six campuses will remain open and provide a residential experience, but they will operate under different names.

(Image via The Healing Center / Pittsburgh City Paper).

5. Pgh gets its first drive-through medical marijuana pharmacy

The Healing Research Center’s medical cannabis company is expanding into Robinson Township and will serve the Pittsburgh area with its first drive-through medical cannabis dispensary. The pharmacy in western Allegheny County is expected to open on Friday, July 30th.

The new drive-through pharmacy owned by Verano Holdings will be located at 6300 Robinson Center Drive near the Mall at Robinson and will include four different drive-through booths. Chris Kohan, co-founder of The Healing Center, said he looks forward to bringing the first medical marijuana dispensary to western Pennsylvania.

The Healing Research Center in Robinson Township is the second pharmacy in the state under this name, with the first in Chester County. The Healing Center, a partner of the Healing Research Center, announced earlier this year that it had acquired a 50 percent stake in Agronomed Biologics, based in Chester County, allowing the expansion of four additional locations in Pennsylvania and one additional facility.

According to a press release, the six new pharmacies will eventually support medical marijuana research with the Drexel University Medical Cannabis Research Center as part of Pennsylvania’s Chapter 20 Clinical Research Program.

And that’s the week. See you again next weekend.

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