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Senate GOP kicks Fetterman out of first session

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Tom Lisi
January 6, 2021
First day fireworks, chamber rules, flouting restrictions, rejecting Biden, multiple Batmans, and scavenger hunts. It's Wednesday.
The first day of the Pennsylvania Senate's new session was ugly, as Republicans blocked a Democrat from taking his oath of office, Spotlight PA reports.

In the process, GOP lawmakers also removed Lt. Gov. John Fetterman from his role of presiding over the chamber, claiming that he wasn't following the rules. You can watch that unfold here.

Democrats, in turn, responded by refusing to back Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre) from assuming the top leadership position — an unusual maneuver on what is most often a largely ceremonial and bipartisan vote.

THE CONTEXT: In December, the state certified Sen. Jim Brewster, of Allegheny County, as the winner of a close race. His Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli, went to court in an attempt to throw out ballots that weren't dated in accordance with state law.

She lost in state court, but another challenge is pending on the federal level.

The bitterness and rancor on display was a departure from the normally staid and sedate workings of the chamber. And it potentially sets the stage for a tumultuous two-year session, which will be governed by rules that Democrats say fuel intense partisanship.

“This poverty is breeding some of this frustration. You just have people that don’t have nothing to live for and nothing not to kill for.”

— Stanley Crawford, founder of the Black Male Community Council of Philadelphia, on one of Philadelphia's most violent years in recent history

POST IT: Thanks, James G., for this frosty shot near Huntingdon.  Send us your hidden gems use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
THEY OBJECT: All but one member of Pennsylvania's Republican delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to object to the state's electors today, despite winning their own races, USA Today's Pennsylvania Capitol Bureau reports. Only U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, from the Philadelphia suburbs, did not sign on to the letter.

FISCAL BOOST: State tax revenues in 2020 came in $467 million above what Pennsylvania officials had predicted, TribLIVE reports. But that hasn't wiped away the damage from last year's downturn, a Department of Revenue spokesperson said.

ON YOUR DIME: Taxpayers were billed $3,000 to cover the costs of a Senate hearing in Gettysburg where Rudy Giuliani and state lawmakers aired unfounded claims of election fraud, The Caucus reports. That includes $1,188 for a buffet.

UNRELATED: State Rep. Mike Reese's death at 42 from a brain aneurysm likely had nothing to do with his recent bout of COVID-19, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, even though the disease has been tied to strokes. For most people, the causes of aneurysms are unclear.

FLOUTING: Since July, 20 Allegheny County bars and restaurants have received at least three citations for not following COVID-19 public health guidelines, a PublicSource analysis found. Some have even stayed open despite county orders to close.

» FREE FOR SUBSCRIBERS: A live interview with Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education, at 5 p.m. Jan. 13. RSVP now and submit questions in advance to ypiper@spotlightpa.org.
HIGH TREK: Western Pennsylvania families have another tool to get everyone outside whiling avoiding total tech withdrawal: a GPS-powered scavenger hunt on the Rachel Carson Trail.

SWEET KARMA: On his Snapchat-based show, Philly native Will Smith showered gifts and recognition on the family behind Haircuts4Homeless, based in Philadelphia. Smith's offerings included $25,000, and even better, a PlayStation 5.

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS: If you're reading this right at 7 a.m., you just missed a glimpse at the International Space Station zooming through Pennsylvania's sky. But fear not, it'll make another pass through tomorrow morning at 6:05 a.m.

REHABILITATION: A $8.7 million plan to give Washington Crossing Historic Park in Upper Makefield a facelift is set to start next month. The project will restore 11 historic homes on the site and other structures.

HE'S STILL BATMAN: Pittsburgh-area native Michael Keaton will make a brief appearance as the dark knight once more in a new movie "The Flash," set for summer 2022. Ben Affleck will also play Batman, presumably part of a scintillating plot device.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Hypothermia 

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Jill G., David I., Neal W., John C., Bette G., Kim C., Heidi B., Lynne P., George S., Karen W.., Dianne K., Ron P., and Carol D. 
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