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Can lawmakers finally finish Pa.'s budget?

Plus, Pa. leads nation in Lyme disease cases, and deforestation is making it worse.

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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

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

Monday, November 13, 2023
In today's edition: Impasse progress, tick concerns, accelerated test scores, machine error, assault lawsuit, and child abuse claims.
Pennsylvania lawmakers are showing signs they may cooperate and advance legislation after a year that has seen a prolonged dispute over spending and few bills crossing the finish line.

Gov. Josh Shapiro recently signed bills that cut into the five-month budget impasse, addressing items such as increasing ambulance reimbursements, reauthorizing a hospital assessment used to support medical coverage for low-income individuals, and transferring almost $900 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

Read the full report: As partisan tensions thaw in Harrisburg, Pa. lawmakers eye unfunded housing, school priorities

THE CONTEXT: From Spotlight PA:

Democratic and Republican legislative leaders have found it difficult to work together since this summer, when Shapiro rejected a $100 million private school voucher program, a GOP priority, in the face of unified resistance from state House Democrats.

At a news conference late last month, Shapiro said that both chambers “have to learn to work together,” but that he was “encouraged by what I've been seeing as of late.”

Shapiro signed a $45.5 billion budget in August, but state lawmakers must pass additional legislation to authorize spending on several programs included in that bill.
“It’s not like going to a concert, but I'm doing something that I think is helpful and I'm doing something useful for the county."
—Jay Schneider on his first year overseeing a polling place as a judge of elections in Chester County
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» RESULTS REVIEW: Join us, the New Pennsylvania Project, and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts on Thursday, Nov. 16 from 6-7 p.m. for a Q&A on the election results. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

Second Mountain Hawk Watch in Fort Indiantown Gap, via Mary B. Have a photo you'd like to share with the whole commonwealth? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
yellow and red flower fields in front of a vast of green landscape and a blue sky
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.BIG UPTICK: Environmental experts want elected leaders and rural communities to consider the risks of forest fragmentation as Pennsylvania leads the nation in Lyme disease cases, Spotlight PA. Pennsylvania recorded 8,413 confirmed cases in 2022 — a number that has increased almost every year for more than a decade.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.GETTING BETTER: A glimmer of good news for parents worried about pandemic-era learning losses: Standardized test scores are up in Pennsylvania for the first time in three years. They're still below pre-pandemic levels but the state's Department of Education says they've improved in all subjects. Chalkbeat reports most Philly students still aren't testing as proficient and performance gaps persist.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.GLITCH UPDATE: Northampton County GOP Committee officials are investigating whether some county voters were turned away from the polls during a pause in voting prompted by an Election Day glitch. The AP reports that the issue — in which some Superior Court retention votes were flipped — quickly fueled online misinformation. Officials say votes were properly recorded on the backend.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.USE OF FORCE: A lawsuit alleges a Uniontown man was involuntarily committed and removed from a transplant waiting list after being assaulted by a UPMC police officer who lied about the incident, via TribLIVE. The lawsuit says David Drews, 52, who is bipolar, has a life-threatening medical condition that caused psychosis and seizures. They claim the officer was upset Drews called him "dorky."

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.NEGLIGENCE SUITS: Allegheny County's contested plan to reopen the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center is helmed by a private contractor that's been accused of failing to protect children from abuse, according to lawsuits filed days after the $73 million contract was signed. The contractor, Adelphoi, declined comment on the lawsuits but told PublicSource it takes “extensive steps” to protect children in its care.
🏆 NEWS QUIZ: Stay on top of the news last week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Election results, swapped votes, and a Hollywood celeb’s pet plea.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: Harrisburg public radio station WITF is explaining how it plans to navigate potential conflicts of interest as it covers a congressional race featuring one of its former executives.

CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC: Philly is relocating its open-air Megabus/Greyhound station once described by Inquirer columnist Inga Saffron as a "humanitarian disaster." WHYY has the details on the backlash and new placement

MALL MAKEOVERS: The American shopping mall is dying. A bill from state Rep. Josh Siegel (D., Lehigh) would offer developers tax credits, abatements, and state grants to give the sprawling properties new life.

ALL ELECTRIC: Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso reports: The first EV charging station to be built in Pennsylvania using federal infrastructure bill dollars ($610,000, to be exact) is underway in Pittston right off I-81.

BE KIND: A Philadelphia woman takes time out of her day to compliment strangers, via Inquirer (paywall). She hands them a “compliment card” to encourage others to spread joy too.
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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.
Friday's answer: Extrapolate

Congrats to our weekly winner: Alice B.

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Stacy S., Barbara F., Eddy Z., Beth H., Vicki U., Don H., Richard A., Jane R., Tracy S., Bruce B., Judith D., Susan N., Mary H., Jodi R., Kim C., Lynne E., Susan D., Marty M., Daniel M., Dan A., Karen W., Joyce C., Jon W., Carol S., Kimberly D., Carol K., James B., Elaine C.,  Jean B., Jody A., William Z., Julie K., Jerry H., Craig E., Marie B., Elizabeth R., Christina M., Frederick H., Ben P., Valerie F., Starr B., Patricia M., Joel S., Anthony W., John C., Daniel S., Alan B., Becca S., and Wendy A.
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