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A last-ditch effort to help abuse victims get justice


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Yaasmeen Piper
February 5, 2021
Emergency amendment, vaccine criteria, county jail, state schools, police fee, fake lifestyle brand, rescued pooch, and marriage selfies. You made it to Friday.
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Leaders in the Pennsylvania House will deploy an emergency tactic to revive a derailed referendum that would give survivors of childhood sexual abuse a chance to sue the perpetrators, Spotlight PA reports.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, who is himself a survivor, said Thursday he had received commitments from Republicans who control both chambers to consider an emergency amendment to the constitution.

Senate Republicans, however, signaled caution about using the tactic, saying only that they are committed to “reviewing” what the House sends over.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania’s community of survivors have long pushed for a two-year reprieve in the statute of limitations so they can bring litigation. It gained momentum after the release of a bombshell grand jury report that documented how Catholic dioceses had covered up abuse by priests. 

The legislature was on track to send a question about that change to the voters this May. But that timeline dissolved after the Department of State this week revealed it had failed to advertise the measure as required last year.

As a result, Secretary Kathy Boockvar announced she would resign.

To get the proposal back on track, state lawmakers will now attempt to pass an emergency amendment, which can be done when “the safety or welfare of the commonwealth requires prompt” action. That criteria, however, could leave it vulnerable to litigation. 


“Serving changes every detail and aspect of your life. Our soldiers need additional transitional help."

—Chuck Cott, a 99-year old World War II veteran, on why he decided to become a mentor to other veterans in Lancaster County
VACCINE UPDATE: Health officials refused to disclose the criteria that determines why some counties received more doses than others, while lawmakers grilled the state's acting health secretary about the sluggish rollout. For providers, check Spotlight PA's vaccine map and county-by-county listing.
POST IT: Another snow photo, this time from Hummelstown. Thanks, Sandy M.Send us your hidden gems (or snow pictures!), use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
LITTLE OVERSIGHT: In 2019, the Allegheny County Jail tied inmates to a restraint chair more than any other county jail in the state, PublicSource reports. According to former medical employees, the staff used the chair to punish people, with little mental health oversight, instead of helping them through trauma.

IDENTITY CRISIS: The six state-owned universities that are being merged into two new institutions will be able to keep their names, the Post-Gazette reports. Officials said the mergers should cut prices for students and boost graduation rates.

PAYING FOR POLICE: As part of his budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf once again proposed charging municipalities a fee for State Police coverage. PennLive breaks down what your city, town, or borough would pay under the plan.

PANDEMIC PAROLE: With more than 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases among people incarcerated in the state's prisons, advocates say officials are not acting fast enough to release qualified inmates, The Inquirer reports. Legislation advancing medical parole has stalled, while the state's commutation process remains sluggish. 

NOT ENOUGH: President Joe Biden has signed three executive orders aimed at reuniting families separated at the border and undoing other Trump-era policies. But activists from Pennsylvania want the Democrat to focus his attention on family detention centers, like the one in Berks County, WITF reports. 

IMMORTAL INSPIRATION: Anne Feeney, a legendary Pittsburgh-based folk singer and activist, has died at age 69. Feeney is remembered for activism, such as co-founding Pittsburgh Action Against Rape in 1972, and her music, which she called a "fantastic way of empowering people." 

TO GOOP OR GLOWT: Do you think lifestyle brands that encourage you to buy $800 countertop herb gardens and $345 coffee makers are, to be frank, ridiculous? So do these three Pittsburgh women who created a parody lifestyle brand called Glowt.

SENIOR SAVE: A handful of first responders and kind neighbors helped rescue Omar, a 14-year-old Spanish Water Dog, from an icy pond — a save caught on camera. Despite being in the water for more than 30 minutes, Omar was just fine.

SELFIES IN LOVE: Newlyweds in Philadelphia will soon have a special spot to snap their first photo as a married couple. Mural Arts of Philadelphia will install a "marriage selfie mural" inside the Wedding License Bureau next week, featuring some of the city's more photogenic spots.

ICE ICE, BABY: Harrisburg's annual Ice and Fire festival might be different this year, but those roaming the city in early March will still get a bit of a treat. Between March 5 and 7, the modified "Ice in the Burg" will feature 50 large and small ice sculptures scattered throughout the city. 

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: Infrastructure  

Congrats to our daily winners: Christina H., Dianne K., Sandra G., Neal W., Susan D., Jill G., Becky C., Craig W., Chip K., George S., Joel S., Irene R., Christine M., Patricia R., Cynthia H., David I., Carol D., Jessica K., Ron P., Christopher R., Bill C., David W., John C., Mary Ellen T., and Beth T. 
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