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GOP eyes options as Wolf renews disaster order


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 21, 2021
Halfway there, Capitol commission, school choice, cooperating witness, rank-and-file, history making, and a bar haunting by William Penn's child. It's Friday! 
Half of Pennsylvania adults are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, officials say, bringing the state closer to its 70% benchmark for the removal of a statewide mask mandate still in place.

It's unclear how long it might take to bridge that 20% gap, with the pace of vaccinations slowing statewide for weeks. 

Health department data show Pennsylvania ordered only a quarter of the vaccine doses it was entitled to last week, signaling a steep drop in demand, per the Associated Press. New coronavirus infections are also down about 50% statewide.

Meanwhile, Gov. Tom Wolf for the fifth time renewed his pandemic disaster declaration Thursday, two days after Pennsylvania voters backed new limits on his emergency powers.

"As previously announced, we are lifting all mitigation measures on Memorial Day, but we need just a little more time under this current disaster declaration," Wolf said in a statement.

THE CONTEXT: With certification of the election results still weeks away, Republican leaders are considering next steps and will discuss what to do when they reconvene for voting sessions next week, the Capital-Star reports.

State Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) has announced plans to resurrect a resolution to terminate the emergency order, while House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) signaled his at least short-term support for its continuation.

"At least on paper there needs to be an emergency ongoing so that we can continue to have some of the flexibility with the school code and the medical exams as well as some of the federal funding," Cutler said, via CBS21.

There is new consensus, however, on what to do about the company Pennsylvania paid millions to for contact tracing services and whose lax security jeopardized the private information of some 72,000 people.

Wolf's administration now says it is firing the company, Insight Global, weeks after Republicans demanded it and the administration said it would let the contract expire at the end of July instead. 

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"He had asked me to run some months ago. He said, 'Doug, run and I’ll campaign for you.'"

—State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) saying former President Donald Trump encouraged him to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2022. Trump adviser Jason Miller later stressed no endorsement has been made.
VACCINE UPDATE: The University of Pennsylvania Health System is requiring employees to get vaccinated by Sept. 1, a rare move officials hope will inspire other employers to do the same. Employees who can’t get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons will be allowed to apply for an exemption, NBC10 reports. For vaccine providers, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
Another great sunrise shot to start your morning, this time of Chester Spring. Thanks, Thomas T.! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.
OFFICIAL INQUIRY: All U.S. House Democrats voted this week for a 9/11-style commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. They were joined by 35 Republicans, one from Pennsylvania. Hours earlier, insurrection charges were announced against two McKean County residents authorities say stormed the Capitol and threatened to hang lawmakers, per KDKA-TV. The commission proposal is headed to the U.S. Senate.

'ANTI-INDOCTRINATION': Husband-and-wife school board candidates in Elizabethtown who attended the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the U.S. Capitol attack and who subscribe to the false belief that the 2020 election was stolen have advanced to November's general election, LancasterOnline reports. The couple is running on an "anti-indoctrination" platform and secured two of four GOP nominations in Tuesday's primary.

LEGAL HISTORY: Anu-Malik Johnson faces the death penalty for a 2019 movie theater shooting in York — and Johnson's anguished father blames himself. According to the father, Johnson believed the victim had targeted him in a shooting two years earlier. And Johnson's dad believes that prior shooting was tied to his own cooperation in a federal firearms sting, telling the York Daily Record, "This is all because of me."

POLICE DIVERSITY: Pennsylvania police are overwhelmingly white, even in cities like Philadelphia and Harrisburg, USA Today Network found. The number of officers of color holding high-ranking positions here is also exceedingly low. The disparity is reflective of a larger, national trend. But activists say part of the reason is departments are going about recruiting candidates of color in entirely the wrong way.

VOICE VOTE: Tyler Titus was a winner in Erie County's Democratic primary this week and could be the first transgender county executive in the U.S. if successful in November. Titus defeated fellow Democrat and Erie County Councilman Carl Anderson in a four-way race and faces Republican Brenton Davis in the fall. Anderson wants to re-enter as an independent, via Erie News Now, despite a decades-old sore-loser law
SPORTS FILM: "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" star Rob McElhenney bought a tiny Welsh soccer club with fellow Hollywooder Ryan Reynolds. Everything that came next is in a forthcoming documentary about two celebs taking on a working-class town's struggling team.

BIG LEAGUE: Artist Jeremy Raymer's massive Josh Gibson mural will be formally unveiled in Homestead today, NEXTpittsburgh reports. There's also a petition drive underway to name Major League Baseball's MVP award after the Homestead Grays and Negro League legend.

ART AS FOLK: The "Millennium Folk Arch and Art Enclave" is a trove of offbeat folk art on the campus of Lehigh University in Bethlehem. Ray Out There serves as tour guide in a 20-minute YouTube walkthrough of the quirky, open-air exhibition.

GHOST STORY: A haunting inspired the name of Kennett Square's new tavern Letty. During renovations, the owners say they heard the sound of a child running overhead. Then they learned about an eerie local legend starring William Penn's daughter Letitia, The Inquirer reports.

BIKE CLUB: Black Girls Do Bike is a cycling group that started in Pittsburgh and has grown into a national program with nearly 100 chapters across the U.S. since 2015. "Street riding can already be intimidating and even more so for a female cyclist," founder Monica Garrison told City Paper.
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: Epitome

Congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., Irene R., Elaine C., Kevin H., Christine M., Lex M., Becky C., Bill C., Stephanie J., Susan D., Al M., Kim C., Bob R., Diane P., Don H., Beth T., Joan S., Tom L., Bruce B., Adrien M., Barbara F., Jimmy N., Janet C., Alice B., Mary Kay M., Elizabeth W., Eileen B., Parker B., Alice B., Damon D., Michelle T., Dennis M., David S., David S., James B., Geoff M., Carol D., Jackie S., George S., Gwen B., Katrina B., Deborah S., Tina P., Kathy B., Joel S., Kenneth J., Dixie S., Tish M., Jill A., Dianne K., Suzanne S., Ann and John P., Mike B., Christine M., Rick D., Debra K., Anne G., Bruce F., Johnny C., Skip B., Myles M., David W., John H., Guy M., Doris B., and Ed R.
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