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5 obstacles Pa. faces as it expands broadband

Plus, what Pennsylvanians say about Gov. Josh Shapiro's performance.

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

Friday, August 25, 2023
Internet access, Shaprio's performance, crypto mining, funding boost, child welfare, bypassed promotion, and lingering questions. It's Friday. 

More than $1 billion in federal funding will soon be coming to Pennsylvania to provide residents access to high-speed internet.

The move is considered a historic opportunity and a serious challenge, according to a new plan from the state Broadband Development Authority that highlights how it will accomplish the goal over the next five years. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Obstacles abound as Pa. plans for surge of federal broadband funding

THE CONTEXT: One notable challenge is the limited competition of providers — more than half the responses to a state survey said residents had no choice. The lack of competition can result in higher prices, the plan notes.

From Spotlight PA:

Federal rules limit states’ ability to use grant funding to increase competition in areas that already have high-speed internet. But the plan says that when scoring grant proposals, Pennsylvania “may prioritize” companies that “bring competition into the market statewide” by offering a chance for small local companies to grow.


"This is a crime against humanity.”

Attorney Shaka Johnson calling for criminal charges against the Philadelphia police officer who fatally shot 27-year-old Eddie Irizarry in Kensington last week.

Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
» Pennsylvanians approve of Gov. Shapiro’s job performance, via PoliticsPA 
» Pa. mayors urge Biden to provide protection to immigrants in “legal limbo,” via City & State Pennsylvania
» DeSantis to make campaign pitstop in Harrisburg on Sept. 5, via PennLive
» Trump leads among Pa.’s GOP voters, according to poll, via LNP 
» Two Pennsylvania state employees unions ratify proposal with Shapiro administration, via AP
MISSED CONDUCT: Join us Thursday, Aug. 31 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel discussion on Penn State’s post-Sandusky misconduct policies, transparency in higher education, and how universities can keep students and employees safe. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
A spotted lanternfly in Cranberry Township via Michael S. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
a red-orange insect with black dots
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CRYPTO MINING: A state House Democrat known as the chamber’s most outspoken environmentalist wants to exclude crypto-mining operations from a state tax exemption passed in 2016, Capital & Main reports. The lawmaker, state Rep. Greg Vitali, fears the exemption will fuel the buildout of facilities where supercomputers mine bitcoin, which when powered by fossil fuels can exacerbate climate change. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TRANSIT FUNDS: SEPTA officials are pushing Pennsylvania lawmakers to boost the annual share of state sales-tax revenue devoted to paying for public transportation by 45%. The Inquirer reports SEPTA CEO Leslie S. Richards said the proposal would be able to “prevent a draconian service reduction and extraordinary fare increases.”

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
MISDIAGNOSED ABUSE: Lehigh County families and the county controller are calling for systemic reforms after a recent report found an “abnormally high number” of unsubstantiated claims of medical abuse made by doctors, the Morning Call reports. Local health systems criticized the report saying it oversimplifies a complicated issue.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.WHISTLEBLOWER LAWSUIT: A State Police trooper argues in a lawsuit she was passed over at least eight times for promotions while less-qualified troopers were elevated to higher ranks. TribLIVE reports she believes the reason is because of her husband’s role as a whistleblower; he reported allegations that a supervisor’s political beliefs affected a criminal case.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
SKILL GAMES: Pennsylvania could bring in $250 million in revenue annually by regulating and taxing so-called skill games, but questions over the legality of the machines leaves the opportunity in limbo, the Capital-Star reports. As Spotlight PA has previously detailed, casino lobbyists have pushed to ban skill games, which aren’t regulated under the state’s gambling law or subject to the same high taxes as slot machines.
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🏆 SMART SCORE: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news this week? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: COVID-19 hospitalizations, falling unemployment, and Fetterman’s stache.
RECOVERY GRANTS: A proposed grant program would improve support for Pennsylvanians recovering from substance use, The Center Square reports, by offering services like mentoring and job assistance

SHORTSTAFFED SERVICES: Pittsburgh’s controller’s office suggests signing bonuses and “more aggressive recruitment campaigns” to solve the city’s shortage of EMTs and paramedics, WESA reports of an audit released on Wednesday.

COMPANY LAYOFFS: Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods has cut hundreds of corporate jobs. An analyst told the AP that a large portion of the company’s quarterly profit drop appeared to be from theft.

MOVIE DISCOUNT: You have the chance to see movies for $4 as part of National Cinema Day this Sunday only. Select theaters in Pennsylvania are a part of the deal.

LONGEVITY STUDY: Age is nothing but a number is the message this 96-year-old Philly geneticist is trying to spread after participating in a study looking at the genetics of longevity, via The Inquirer (paywall).
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: Esoteric or coteries

Congrats to our daily winners: Eric F., Barbara F., Daniel S., Don H., John W., Beth T., Jon W., Susan N., Kimberly D., Wendy A., Julie K., Carol S., Adrien M., Vicki U., Dennis M., Kim C., Daniel M., Park B., Susan D., David W., Michael T., John E., Dan A., Mark C., Tom M., Becca S., David W., William Z., Margaret D., John P., and Eddy Z.
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