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Pa. GOP wants 'election integrity' panel with subpoena power


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Your Postmaster: Yaasmeen Piper
October 1, 2020
Partisan election investigations, a police commissioner resigns, no COVID-19 vaccine this year, and Halloween candy recipes. It's Thursday (and October!).

One day after President Donald Trump said, “Bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things,” part of his manufactured narrative of voter fraud, state Republicans emerged with a new resolution to create an “election integrity” committee and give themselves subpoena power.

The committee would consist of five House lawmakers (three Republicans and two Democrats) tasked with investigating and reviewing the Nov. 3 election. The group would have the power to subpoena witnesses and documents and initiate legal filings.

The House State Government committee passed the resolution 15-10, along party lines.

The Context: The GOP contends they need the oversight panel after the state Supreme Court “hijacked” and “injected chaos into” the voting process by allowing mail-in ballots to be counted for three days after Nov. 3 so long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

Democratic lawmakers called the resolution a “stealth attack” on voting and an overreach of power with a high potential for abuse. 

“To put it simply this is a dangerous threat to our democracy,” House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D., Allegheny) said in a statement.

Rep. Garth Everett (R., Lycoming), who introduced the resolution, said the intent was to only have lawmakers review the election process and make suggestions for improvements, not subpoena ballots, which he said the state constitution would not allow.

The resolution as written, however, does not state when the committee would begin its work, leaving open the possibility it could launch inquiries prior to or during Election Day. To ease those concerns, Everett said he would consider amending the resolution.

The move was even more concerning for Democrats on the heels of state Republican Chairman Lawrence Tabas’ comments to The Atlantic that he had spoken with Trump campaign officials about the possibility of bypassing the results of the popular vote and having the GOP in the legislature choose electors loyal to Trump. Tabas has since walked back those comments.

"It’s ridiculous, they don’t have to do much of anything. This is money from the state."

–– Mike Zwick of Philadelphia, on Wells Fargo's decision not to participate in the state's program to help homeowners pay their mortgages. 
POST IT: Who else loves hiking in the fall? Thank you @ethan_constable for this shot of Easton. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
STEPPING DOWN: York City Police Commissioner Osborne "Moe" Robinson has resigned after holding the position for less than a year. The York Daily Record reports that Robinson, who participated in recent Black Lives Matter protests, had clashed with the local police union.

CLEARING THE AIR: After passing a law that requires large building owners to report their energy usage to the city, Pittsburgh is now publicizing that information as well as specifics on greenhouse gas emissions. A representative for the city told PublicSource releasing the information is one way to help the public hold businesses accountable for meeting climate goals. 

BRUTAL HAZING: A student is suing Bucknell University over claims of "brutal" fraternity hazing in early September. PennLive reports that the student said he was punched, kicked, burned with cigarettes, and forced to drink a dangerous amount of liquor.    

NOT GONNA HAPPEN: A COVID-19 vaccine is "not going to happen" this year, according to UPMC doctors. TribLIVE reports that one doctor even called the race for a vaccine "this generation’s moonshot."
FOOD INSECURE: Duquesne residents are mourning the loss of Save A Lot, their only grocery store. Many locals walked to the store, and while there's another just outside the city, they don't have the means to get to there. The community is scrambling to find ways to help.  

IS THAT YOU ET? Early-risers in the Pittsburgh area were greeted by a mysterious flash of light Wednesday morning. Sadly, the occurrence wasn't a visitor from another planet but a tiny piece of rock — as small as a grain of sand! — burning up in Earth's atmosphere. 

ORLANDO, WELCOME TO ORLANDO: Is your name Orlando? If so, Frontier Airlines is offering you a free trip to Orlando, Florida. Orlandos are eligible for the free flight from Oct. 13 to 20. 

HERE IN MY CAR: Drive-in movie theaters are at the top of my “in-the-time-of-coronavirus” bucket list. If you’re like me, or just like to watch a good movie without leaving your car, check out this list of drive-in movie theaters in Pennsylvania.

CANDY OVERLOAD: Though trick-or-treating may look a little different this year, that doesn’t mean your Halloween candy has to go to waste. The Morning Call has a list of recipes you can make using leftover Halloween candy

FALL IN A MUG: I love everything about fall, but especially the seasonal drinks. Check out these 15 amazing fall-flavored drinks that go way past pumpkin spice.

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.

Yesterday's answer: Emissions

Congrats to our daily winners: 
Craig W., Theodore W., Chris W., George D., Chip K., Lynne E., John C., Tracey C., Alex L., John H., Brandie K., Kim C., Lynne P., Jill A.S., Thomas B., Scott R., Ron P., Heather D., Patricia R., Irene R., Beth T., Patricia M., Mary Ann M., Dianne K., David W., Joel S., Tish M., Susan D., Carole W., Karen W., Carol D., Maureen G., Joan S., Sue C., Kathleen M., and Jarrod B. 
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