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Blurred lines between Pa. lawmakers and lobbyists


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
September 14, 2020
Evictions spiked when Pa.'s moratorium ended, art museum layoffs, the Big Ten discusses a return to football, and squashing a winged invader. Monday. Go. 
As if those falling behind on their rent aren't already under enough stress, the on-again, off-again state and federal eviction moratoriums are adding to families' anxiety and fear. Don't miss this story from Spotlight PA's Charlotte Keith on one family's harrowing story of going down to the wire to find out if they could stay in their home or if they had to leave. It hasn't been roses for landlords either, who in many cases are also having trouble paying their bills.

Joseph Fallacaro in Bucks County worries about his 10-year-old daughter.

“As much as I try not to let her see anything, she sees when the constable comes, she sees when I’m arguing on the phone,” Fallacaro said.

THE CONTEXT: Brand new data from the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University and figures compiled by Philadelphia Legal Assistance show the potential wave of evictions pent up in the system. In the week leading up to the expiration of the state moratorium, there was an average of 60 new eviction filings per day. On Sept. 1, the day it expired, there were 1,911 filings statewide, according to the data. The numbers fell sharply after the federal eviction ban was announced, dropping to 328 on Sept. 4.

"Asking for kind of running the table in those and holding everything else is, I think, optimistic on their part, short of an absolute wave election."

— Chris Borick, a Muhlenberg College political science professor, on the Pennsylvania House Democrats' chances of regaining the majority this November. Retaking the Senate? Even more of a reach, the AP reports.
POST IT: "Windolph Landing Nature Preserve in Lancaster County is a great place for a secluded walk." Thank you to our Deputy Editor Sarah Anne Hughes for submitting this gem! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
CAREER CHANGES: Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman has a new chief of staff: Krystjan Callahan, a well-connected lobbyist with close ties to the man who runs Corman’s campaigns. The move is the latest high-profile example of the cozy ties between lawmakers in the Capitol and special interests trying to influence them, Spotlight PA and The Caucus report. 

PRISON OUTBREAK: This weekend, York County saw a spike in COVID-19 cases. It's the second time that's happened this month, and both times look to be rooted in cases at the prison, the York Daily Record reports.

STATE OF THE ARTS: While some Philadelphia museums are beginning to reopen, the Please Touch Museum will stay shuttered for the rest of the year, The Inquirer reports. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which recently opened to the general public for the first time in six months, is laying off 20% of its staff. 

READY TO RETURN? The presidents of the Big Ten (which includes Penn State) met Sunday about a possible return to play this fall. Still, a final decision hasn't been made: The school leaders did not vote after hearing a two-and-a-half-hour presentation Sunday, according to the Associated Press. 

A TALL ORDER: An eatery outside Pittsburgh has become "the staging ground for an unlikely anti-government rebellion," the Washington Post reports. Al's Cafe has refused to stop serving bar patrons despite an order from Gov. Tom Wolf. It's not alone, according to TribLive.
SQUISH SQUASH: By know you've seen them — the dreaded spotted lanternfly. But there are things you can do to stop them, according to a top state official: "Squish them, scrape them, get rid of them." You can find out more about the pests and how to defeat them via Penn State

TAKE 5: Stretch! You'll be surprised how good it feels. Get out of that desk chair and move your muscles — they'll thank you for it later. Here's a good guide for one routine that might work for you.

FILL IT OUT: Have you taken the census yet? It helps you and your community get the funding it is entitled to, and your information is confidential by law. About 68% of Pennsylvanians report filling out the 2020 survey so far. Time is running out.

ARE YOU READY? The Eagles and Steelers are back in action. The Philadelphia team on Sunday did [redacted for spoilers] while the Steelers take on the Giants tonight. True, the games are different in the COVID-19 era, but there's something comforting about seeing football back in action.

WHAT TO READ IF ... You need a break from the day's news: I love turning to The New York Times' Modern Love series for a break from the constant chaos in the world. Read something funny, silly, sweet, or romantic — but almost certainly always relatable — and you'll be surprised at how many people are going through such similar things.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Friday's answers: Education (or cautioned or auctioned)

Congrats to our weekly winner Sharon E., who will receive some Spotlight PA swag.

Congrats to our Friday winners: Tracey C., Chris W., Timothy P., John C., Brandie K., Cory N., Beth M., Lynne E., Jill A.S., Dan M., Thomas B., Elijah R., Patricia R., Evelyn S., David W., Theresa O., Karen W., Daniel G., Ken A., Patricia M., Amanda G., Beth T., Geoff M., Sharon E., Tim P., and Ann and John.
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