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Pa. State Police resume tracking racial data

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Tom Lisi
January 13, 2021
Swearing in, proposal rejected, misclassified workers, extra doses, local ties, and Free Blockbuster. It's Wednesday.
The Pennsylvania Senate will seat Democrat Jim Brewster after a federal judge upheld the validity of hundreds of votes that sealed his victory, Spotlight PA reports.

His Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli, wanted to throw out mail ballots that weren't dated, as is required by state law. She lost a similar case that went all the way to the state Supreme Court.

In a 14-page ruling, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said his court was “bound by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s interpretation of this state law — which directly applies to the very ballots at issue here.”

CONTEXT:  The latest court loss for Ziccarelli comes a week after Republican senators refused to seat Brewster.

The chamber's top lawmaker, Jake Corman, had previously signaled that if the judge didn’t rule on the case’s merits — finding, instead, it wasn’t a federal matter — the Senate would intervene and decide who to seat.

Senate Democrats accused their Republican counterparts of attempting to steal the election, with Minority Leader Jay Costa (D., Allegheny) saying the party had taken a page from “the Trump playbook.”

Brewster, who won his Pittsburgh-area race by 69 votes, will be sworn in today at 11 a.m. You can watch the ceremony live here.
“If they kept going, I knew there’s no way I can keep going. But if you’ve been a Republican all your life, it’s hard to jump out of a big boat and into a little boat.”
— Ethan Demme, former chair of Lancaster County's Republican Committee, on changing his party registration in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. He's one of dozens in the area to do so.
POST IT: A throwback to Ohiopyle State Park in the fall. Thanks, @md_travler_artist, for tagging us! Send us your hidden gems use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
IMPACT: The Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday that it had resumed collecting racial data during traffic stops, nine years after the department quietly ended the practice and in direct response to a previous investigative report by Spotlight PA. Many police departments across the nation collect racial data from traffic stops in order to detect potential racial bias in policing.

OVERRULED: A three-judge panel ruled that a Philadelphia nonprofit's plan to open a supervised injection site would break federal law, WHYY reports. The organization, Safehouse, is hopeful the Biden administration will be open to the initiative.
PROGRESSIVE PRINCIPLES: The left flank of Pennsylvania's Democratic caucus in the state House will have an official venue this term for promoting progressive legislative priorities, the Capital-Star reports. The subcommittee will be led by Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler of Philadelphia. 

CRACKDOWN: Delaware County's district attorney has brought charges against a construction firm for allegedly misclassifying workers, The Inquirer reports. It's the first time a prosecutor has done so since 2011, when a state statute went into effect. 
'DO NOT WASTE': Faced with extra vaccine doses that will quickly expire, some pharmacists in Central Pennsylvania are creating their own waitlists, Fox43 reports. Health Secretary Rachel Levine endorsed the idea, adding that it's better to give a dose to people who aren't high priority rather than letting any vaccine go to waste.

» FREE FOR SUBSCRIBERS: A live interview with Daniel Greenstein, chancellor of the PA State System of Higher Education, today at 5 p.m. RSVP now and submit questions in advance to ypiper@spotlightpa.org.
CENTRAL PA TO CIA: Before William J. Burns went on to a decorated career in the foreign service, his classmates at Cumberland County's Trinity High School named him "most studious" in 1973. He's now President-elect Joe Biden's pick to lead the CIA.
BIG AUCTION, LITTLE ITEMS: Roadside America, the beloved and now-shuttered Berks County attraction, is auctioning off all the items that made up its amazing miniature villages. If you aren't in need of tiny houses or circus animals, there are also cool handpainted hex signs for sale.
SPECIAL COOKIE: He holds the world record for the longest freestyle rap (31 hours!), and now Pittsburgh rapper Frzy has his own Eat'n Park cookie. Proceeds go to UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
BE KIND, REWIND: Streetside lending libraries for movies and video games sporting the name "Free Blockbuster" are catching on in the Philadelphia area. The idea came from a Delaware County native who started the first one in California.
ON ICE: Not all winter events are going virtual. The outdoor Clarks Summit Festival of Ice is a go for next month, and ice artists will be carving sculptures of essential workers this year.
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: Adoration

Congrats to our daily winners: Karen W., David W., Ron P., Kim C.. Janet T., Carol D., Dianne K., John C., Jill A-S., Joel S., Jessica K., Heidi B., George S., Craig W., Susan D., Patricia R., Mary Ellen T., Tracey C., Theresa T., Bruce B., Irene R., Kimberly B., David I., Neal W., and Jill G.
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