By Rep. Anita Kulik
This time of year is a time when seasons change. The changes bring us to what is, for many, the most wonderful time of the year — football season. For most, it is the realization that the holiday season is just around the corner, a time for families to gather, to be thankful, to enjoy being together.
As I travel through the district, I see Halloween decorations, and decorations celebrating the fall season, and signs and decorations celebrating sports. We want to be cheerful, we want to see a return to some degree of normalcy.
Years ago, I worked with the Montour Football Boosters as I watched our son play in his junior and senior years. Parents drove to the away games, or we rented buses. I joined my husband and others as we took snacks and hoagies and drinks for the players and coaches.
I enjoyed those times and cannot imagine being a parent and not being able to be present when your child is competing.
Beyond the joy of watching your child do something he or she loves to do, there is the safety issue. Now, we have asked parents to watch a video stream of their child’s game and watch with concern as their children lay on the ground, wondering if there is some serious injury.
Some of you may have heard about a local player, who suffered a broken arm and had to wait for the parent to be notified and arrive at the game site. As we hold parents responsible for the well-being of their children, I find this to be unacceptable.
I co-sponsored a bill, House Bill 2787, that would have allowed parents to attend sporting events. While I recognize that some people feel that sports should not even be held at this time, the decisions have been made to allow sporting events, and I believe that we should not bar parents from being present. As you probably know, this bill was approved by the House and Senate, and then vetoed by the Governor.
Last week, I received a message at 5:40 p.m., telling me that I had to be in Harrisburg the next day for an unscheduled session. I knew that very important matters would be addressed.
Several bills were considered, and we voted to override the Governor’s veto of 2787. This effort fell a few votes short. There is talk that this bill, or a variation of it, will again be brought up for consideration. I am committed to the belief that, as we encourage parents to play a full and meaningful role in the children’s lives, and as we hold them accountable for the actions of their children, those parents (or guardians) have the right to be present.
I have co-sponsored a similar bill, which addresses capacities for indoor sports facilities and event venues.
The bill addresses the need for appropriate safety measures but will allow people to attend their child’s hockey games, or band concerts, or other events that are held at indoor facilities. As we debated over the provisions of HB 2787, and other proposals, it was clear that this separate bill, HB 2832, is necessary to address indoor events.
We again are worshipping in our churches, while practicing safety measures, and I believe that we can do the same in our auditoriums, gymnasiums, fire halls, and other indoor venues.
I firmly believe that the vast majority of people are going to do the right thing. They will follow safety protocols as we work our way through this. We need to get back to a sense of normalcy, while following protocols to assure that we stay safe and stay well.
I anticipate other legislation will be forthcoming, just as we see new court decisions, new directives from our County Health Department, and the like.
This has been a novel virus; this has been a strange year. Working together, I know we will overcome this.