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Pushback, lawsuit threaten local stormwater plans

Plus, mail ballots highly requested in PA.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Friday, April 5, 2024
Today: Stormwater suit, election outlook, Medicaid purge, voting by mail, official protest, and Pittsburgh's policing changes. 
More Pennsylvania municipalities are turning to stormwater fees to alleviate the burden they face in fixing aging infrastructure that’s being tested by climate change.

Municipalities argue stormwater fees should apply to all properties that benefit from the projects funded, even those that are exempt from taxes. 

The fees have opponents, among them farmers who employ separate mitigation practices and large property owners confronted by pricey bills. 

A related case has made it all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Andy Yencha, a water resource educator at Penn State Extension, said if a legal decision forces municipalities to find a new way to generate revenue for stormwater infrastructure, local governments could turn to raising property taxes instead.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Some Pa. municipalities are turning to fees to cover rising stormwater costs, but pushback and a lawsuit threaten that revenue.

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“I think the Latino vote could be the deciding factor.”

—Victor Martinez, aka “DJ VJ Mar,” who believes Latinos in Pennsylvania should be prioritized by the presidential election campaigns
  • Find key dates and answers to voter FAQs here
  • Guides to state attorney general, auditor generaltreasurer
  • Guias de fiscal general del estado, auditor general y tesorero
  • Races to watch: state Housestate Senate
  • Elections 101: poll watchers, pollbooks, voting machines

    ROW RACES: Join us Thursday, April 11 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a live guide to Pa.’s candidates for attorney general, auditor general, and treasurer and how their terms would impact you. Register here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
    📷 POST IT
    A grackle at Willows Park in Villanova, via Elliott C. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
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    Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PRESIDENTIAL POLLS: In a two-party race, President Joe Biden is leading former President Donald Trump by 10 points among Pennsylvania voters, according to new F&M College polling. But when third-party candidates are included, Biden’s lead drops to two points, within the margin of error. Support for third-party candidates is something Democrats have been concerned about in this election. 

    Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
    REQUEST RATE: Over 800,000 people have requested mail ballots for Pennsylvania’s April 23 primary, WHTM reports. Allegheny County has the most mail ballots requested with over 92,000, followed by Philadelphia, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties which each have fielded more than 40,000 requests so far. Spotlight PA compiled a voter guide on how to request, fill out, and return your mail ballot. Applications must be received by your county election board by 5 p.m. on April 16.

    Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
    MEDICAID ROLLS: Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services expects its Medicaid “unwinding” to be largely completed by June, WESA reports. So far, 1.8 million people statewide have had their coverage renewed, while 738,600 lost their coverage. State officials are determining the status of more than three million Pennsylvania residents enrolled in the program. The “unwinding” followed the end of a pandemic-era federal continuous enrollment policy.

    Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
    DRAG PROTEST: East Hempfield Township supervisors in Lancaster County have voted to withhold funds from a public library until another library in the same system agrees to stop holding drag queen story hour events, WGAL reports. The $26,700 is being withheld from the Mountville Library, which belongs to the same network as the Lancaster Library, where a Drag Queen Story Hour recently drew threats that extremism experts say fit a familiar pattern, per LNP (paywall). 

    Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
    CRIME CONCERNS: Mayor Ed Gainey said concerns about Pittsburgh's public safety being impacted by overnight police staffing reductions does not reflect the city’s crime data, WESA reports. Some, including local officials, were worried the force reduction between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. would be exploited. But Gainey said weeks in, there has been no spike in crime during those hours. 
    WRESTLE-VANIA: If you smell what the Philadelphia International Airport is cooking … you might just be one of the many fans coming to the town for WrestleMania 40 this weekend. The airport rolled out a new replica wrestling ring and title belts display just in time for the two-night event.
    FOOD AWARD: A Philadelphia chef was named a finalist for the prestigious James Beard Award. Royal Sushi & Izakaya's Jessie Ito is the lone Pennsylvania finalist for the Mid-Atlantic category. 
    SPORTS SURVEY: The possibility of bringing an NBA and/or WNBA team to Pittsburgh is being studied, and you can share your thoughts here. Officials hired a consulting firm to gauge interest in the idea, and its feasibility.
    RACCOON RAGE: A raccoon attacked two guests at Hersheypark last week, WHP-TV reports. Video, obtained by TMZ, shows guests running from the Sooperdooperlooper line and, it appears, one person being bitten.
    PERCHED PROPERTY: A building in Greene County was left hanging over a landslide following heavy rains that hit the region and much of the state this week. KDKA-TV has the images and reports the property is a garage. 
    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. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
    A S I N E O L T O D

    Yesterday's answer: Cognizance 

    Congrats to our daily winners:  Elaine C., Jody A., Marty M., Bob C., Jon W., Jane R., Don H., Richard A., Stacy S., Gabrielle G., Alan B., Amelia M., Christina M., Susan N.-Z., Malachy M., Janet S., David W., Lynne E., Vicki U., Barbara F., Jeffrey F., Dan A., Wendy A. Tom M., Rick W., William Z., Daniel M., and Ada M.
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