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Supreme Court pauses $6B Purdue opioid settlement

Plus, Whole-Home Repairs Program in limbo.

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Purdue pause, code bills, theft charges, COVID counts, tax talk, and booing The Boss. Thanks for checking in and enjoy your weekend.

The U.S. Supreme Court has pressed pause on a bankruptcy deal involving the maker of OxyContin that promised large sums of cash to states, like Pennsylvania, that were impacted by the epidemic the drug turbocharged.

The justices on Thursday granted an emergency request from the Biden administration over a provision in the deal between Purdue Pharma and local and state governments nationwide that would have shielded the Sackler family — the owners of Purdue — from opioid-related civil lawsuits.

Through the deal that's now on hold, the Sackler family agreed to pay roughly $6 billion — Pennsylvania's share was $225 million — but only in return for a complete release from any liability in future cases. The Biden administration and a number of states balked at the immunity clause.

Read the AP's full report: Supreme Court blocks OxyContin maker’s bankruptcy deal that would shield Sackler family members.

THE CONTEXT: The high court's action in the case has set the stage for oral arguments this year over whether the settlement can proceed.

But settlement funds are already reaching Pennsylvania from other opioid-related legal cases, many looking to recoup money municipalities have spent responding to the crisis and a connected wave of overdoses.

Disagreements are emerging over how one such windfall — a finalized deal worth $1 billion here, most of it going to counties for distribution — should be spent. Some officials want local shares invested in familiar war on drugs tactics meant to disrupt illicit drug supplies, while harm reductionists urge human-focused investments in treatment.

Read more, via Spotlight PA's archives: 


"I consider that to be unfinished business, something the House and Senate need to keep working on."

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro reiterating his support for private school vouchers, funding for which he line-item vetoed in this year's budget
We've been challenged to raise $25,000 by Aug. 19 to unlock a HUGE $25,000 matching gift. That means your contribution will be DOUBLED. Help sustain Spotlight PA's vital reporting for the remainder of 2023 now.

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» $1.16B broadband plan approved by Pa. officials, via Capital-Star

» Supplemental state funding for poorest schools uncertain, via WESA

» Philly's Bluestein adopts Forward Party affiliation, via City & State

» U.S. Rep. Lee eyes a primary challenge in 2024, via PoliticsPA

» Ciresi wants humans working state phones, via @StephenJ_Caruso

Wild berries, courtesy of Doug W. in Monroeville. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Two small berries — one black and one red — grow on a bush in a wooded area.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.IN LIMBO: WHYY reports additional funding for Pennsylvania's bipartisan-backed Whole-Home Repairs Program is in limbo despite Gov. Josh Shapiro signing this year's budget bill. That's because a separate fiscal code bill is needed to release the money ($50 million in total), the talks around which might offer a chance for Republicans spurned by Shapiro's school voucher about-face to assert some control.
  • RELATED: Demand is set to swamp Pa.'s Whole-Home Repairs Program as some rural counties are left out, via Spotlight PA archives
  • The Whole-Home Repairs Program is remaking Pennsylvania's housing landscape, via City & State
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.MONEY-MOVER: In other fiscal code bill-related news: The Shapiro administration says it will fund women’s health programs with state money stripped from an anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy center" group. Senate Republicans told The Inquirer (paywall) the change will need to be addressed in ongoing fiscal code negotiations.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.FELONY THEFT: Six felony theft charges have been filed against former Pennsylvania corrections union president Jason Bloom, who authorities say used a union credit card to cover more than $8,000 in personal expenses. Lawyers for several union rank-and-file say officials spent members' money on golf outings, NFL games, and more.Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.COVID CASES: Pennsylvania COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising, reflecting the virus' national summer surge. New York Times data from the end of last month showed hospitals in Olean, New York, just across the border, Punxsutawney, and Danville had the highest per capita numbers. New Hampshire's rate has nearly doubled.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.WHAT NOW? A years-old push to make the neighboring borough of Wilkinsburg Pittsburgh's 91st neighborhood is on ice — possibly for good — after a court ruling that significantly raised the bar for approval of the annexation plan. Now, PublicSource reports the depressed borough is pondering its future and a home rule tax hike.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
🏆 TEST TIME: Test your grip on the week in news with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz. This week's covers property tax rebates, Penn State's gender pay gap, and a pet alligator

SNEAK SHOT: Congrats to Michael Lorenzen, who pitched a no-hitter in his second start as a Philadelphia Phillie on Wednesday, a feat made even cooler by the fact that he did it while wearing a pair of Vans.

SKIN DEEP: Barbara Fox of Lebanon isn't your everyday tattoo artist. She's a restorative one who helps fellow cancer survivors "feel whole again" by tattooing areolas or doing scar camouflage, via LNP/WITF. 

TAX FREE: Most stuff you buy in Pennsylvania is subject to sales tax, but there are notable exceptions. Among them, per Billy Penn, shoulder pads, candy apples, sunburn treatments, and more.

LEAVING BRUCE: The Inquirer's Jeff Gammage writes that after decades of devoted fandom and live shows, he's left the church of Bruce Springsteen over the artist's embrace of dynamic ticket pricing (paywall).

CORRECTION: Thursday's issue identified Williamsport as the location for this month's Little League World Series. Reader Scott G. pointed out it's actually neighboring South Williamsport, right across the Susquehanna River. 

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.

Yesterday's answer: Portmanteau

Congrats to our daily winners: Stacy S., John E., Don H., Kimberly D., Jon W., Barbara F., Beth T., Richard A., Dana D., Bruce B., Susan N.-Z., Adrien M., Beth H., Judith D., Dennis M., Kim C., Elaine C., Tom M., David W., Margaret Mary H., Kevin M., Craig W., James B., Wendy A., Doug W., William Z., and Eddy Z.
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