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Pa. borough will let teens become cops


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 30, 2021
Plastic wrap, audit anger, teen police, drug war, Capitol attack, longshot bid, and a stolen clown head hits a nerve. It's Wednesday, and very hot outside.
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Pennsylvania has opened the door to local bans on plastic bags that were blocked by a rule vesting only the state with such power. 

Spotlight PA reports that a statewide preemption clause preventing local bans was not renewed in the state budget passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last week, effectively enabling cities and municipalities to approve new prohibitions or enforce existing ones

Officials and activists from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh hailed the decision as a win for curbing the environmental impact of plastic.

Philadelphia and some of its surrounding townships had filed suit to challenge the state's preemption, asserting it was unconstitutionally slipped into a budget-related bill.

THE CONTEXT: The soon-to-be expired preemption clause went into effect in 2019.

It was introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre), who at the time cited a plastics manufacturer in his district and a township considering a plastic bag fee as reasons.

Republican lawmakers, including Corman, haven't said why they did not move to extend the ban this time.

In its absence, David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, said he "wouldn't be surprised if we see a bunch of municipalities moving swiftly to try and get their own policies on the books." Some have a head start.

Philadelphia's citywide plastic bag ban will go into effect next month, but it will not be fully enforced and implemented until April 2022.

Pennsylvania's second largest city, Pittsburgh, is considering a ban of its own.
Huge issues are being debated in Harrisburg, from voting changes to redistricting, that could have ramifications on our state for years to come. Now more than ever, we need unflinching investigative journalism in Pennsylvania.

And Spotlight PA is answering the call in a bold new way.

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If you value our vital investigative journalism, make a contribution of any amount and become a member now. 

"We are asked to decide whether the federal government can constitutionally confer on pipeline companies the authority to condemn necessary rights-of-way in which a state has an interest. We hold that it can." 

—U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts announcing the court's decision to allow the PennEast Pipeline Co. to sue New Jersey for key land-use rights for its 116-mile natural gas pipeline project

VACCINE UPDATE: The CDC reports 750 people have died and 3,000 more have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. after being fully vaccinated. Officials say the breakthrough cases are not unexpected, given the vaccines are slightly less than 100% effective. For vaccine providers, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
A petunia makes sweating look much more glamorous than I have this week. Thanks, @joyceoverly, for sharing! Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
AUDIT FUNDS: There is disagreement over the budget deal state lawmakers just struck, with Republicans insisting it includes money for a new Bureau of Election Audits and Democrats vehemently opposed to that. City & State reports that while unlikely to sink the larger deal, the spat highlights an election audit fight just getting underway in Harrisburg.

POLICE SEARCH: Berwick, Pennsylvania will begin hiring police officers as young as 19 amid a shortage of interested applicants, the AP reports. The Columbia County borough says rules forbidding people under 21 from entering bars don't apply to responding officers. Other U.S. municipalities are doing the same amid a nationwide shortage of recruits, but research shows it could have unintended consequences.

DRUG LAW: Experts say a Pennsylvania law meant to prevent overdose deaths by imposing harsher penalties on dealers is actually doing the opposite. TribLIVE says that's because many people who witness an overdose are afraid of being blamed and delay calling for help. "The last person holding the drugs often is the one to take the fall," an attorney said.

CAPITOL ASSAULT: A Mechanicsburg woman authorities say filmed and encouraged an assault on a New York Times photographer during January's U.S. Capitol siege has been arrested. Sandra Weyer faces six federal counts. Per WITF, court documents say that after the journalist got up, Weyer yelled "F—g traitor, get the f—k out!" and "Mace her!"

MULLIGAN MAN: A retired police officer who ran and lost in Pittsburgh's Democratic mayoral primary in May is now running to become the city's first Republican mayor in nearly a century. WESA reports Tony Moreno's new longshot bid is made possible by the 1,379 Republican write-in votes he earned on May 18, enough to get him on the November ballot
LOST AND FOUND: Two years after losing her dog, Aisha Nieves of Schuylkill County was looking to adopt a new one when she spotted a very familiar face at the shelter. "I thought, 'Wait, that can't be him,'" Nieves said of her long-lost Kovu. "Then, I saw the little scar over one eye." 

HEAT SAFE: A heatwave is blanketing Pennsylvania, and it's likely to be a few days before things cool down. The CDC has safety tips, most of them intuitive, like dressing sensibly, and some less so, like avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks that promote dehydration, per PennLive.

HOT TOPIC: Yesterday, I asked you to settle a running dispute in my house: Does "turn the air conditioner down" mean make it colder or warmer? The results were evenly split between the two, with one reader sharing sound policy (and marriage) advice: always ask for clarification when unsure.

MONEY TALK: Pittsburgh-made language learning app Duolingo is going public. With $161.7 million in revenue last year, Duolingo will begin selling stock in the company on Wall Street and plans to list on the Nasdaq under "DUOL." Duolingo offers 95 courses across 38 languages, per TechCrunch.

CAN CAN: Someone stole a clown-shaped garbage can lid from the Hellertown Community Pool, and people are not OK. "Return this now — or pay the consequences!" the mayor wrote, per the Morning Call. "To jump a fence and steal this piece of our property — we are coming for you!!!!"
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: Ambulatory

Congrats to our daily winners: Mary Ellen T., Craig W., Michelle T., Diane P., Elaine C., David I., Irene R., Neal W., Al M., Doris T., Kevin H., Bruce T., Jessica K., Susan D., Dianne K., Beth T., Karen W., Elizabeth W., Heidi B., Michelle C., Barbara A., Don H., Steve D., Jill A., Ann and John P., Elijah R., Daniel M., Patricia M., George S., Elisa S., Mike B., Tish M., Craig E., Paul M., Suzanne S., Bob R., Paul H., David W., Dennis M., Alice B., Carol D., Lance L., Mary Kay M., Lex M., Cathy S., and Yvette R.
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