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One county's unusual opioid windfall spending plan

Plus, are more PA Republicans voting by mail?

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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

Thursday, May 2, 2024
Today: Opioid spending, precanvassing vote, Kelly's cut, trouble with the merge, Methodist policy, Tyson pollution, and Earthquaker State. 

Counties across Pennsylvania are spending tens of millions of dollars in opioid settlement money, and records obtained by Spotlight PA and WESA offer the most comprehensive view yet of how they're doing it. 

More than a thousand pages of records obtained by the outlets show the money has gone toward supporting rural jails, child protective services, treatment programs, coroner offices, and in Chester County's case, an effort to curb underage drinking. 

“My thought was just, ‘Why?’” Jordan Scott of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network said of Chester County's Project Sticker Shock plan. The plan entails spending $1,800 of the county’s much larger settlement share on stickers warning people it’s illegal to provide alcohol to minors.

The state’s billion-dollar opioid windfall has brought much-needed funding to a state where thousands are still dying each year from drug overdoses. It’s also brought conflict over the best way to use the money. 

Read the full report: Records obtained by Spotlight PA and WESA reveal how Pa. counties used tens of millions in opioid settlement dollars.

Support Spotlight PA's unmatched election reporting that puts voters first.

“I don’t care who anyone supported in the campaign ... I hope more and more people around the commonwealth, the country, and the world get a chance to eat these darn good rolls as a result of this expansion.”

—Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro who 'broke bread' this week with Martin’s Potato Rolls, one of the biggest supporters of his 2022 opponent

White lilacs in bloom in Adams County, via Cheryl R. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
IN THE MAIL: Is the GOP's bid to reverse years of mail voting vilification working? The Inquirer (paywall) reports GOP voters accounted for roughly 26% of the mail ballots returned in April's primary, up slightly. Former President Donald Trump is shifting his stance, but the damage may already be done.
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.POWER SOURCE: U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.) mocked President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and then used the law to receive a $315,000 grant to install solar panels at one of his car dealerships, Erie Times-News (paywall) reports. Kelly's office sought to distance him from the business' day-to-day operations.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
MERGE POINT: The consolidation of Sandy Township and the City of DuBois in Clearfield County is less than two years away, and some low- and fixed-income families are worried about the financial implications. Spotlight PA reports the merger lacks elements seen with other successful ones. It also highlights the limits of state law.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
MAJOR SHIFT: The United Methodist Church on Wednesday officially lifted a 40-year ban on gay clergy amid a schism around the issue that has coincided with the large-scale disaffiliations of the denomination's more conservative churches in states like this one. More than a third of western Pennsylvania congregations have left.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
WATER FOUL: The Union of Concerned Scientists says a big Tyson chicken plant in Lancaster County released more than 38 million pounds of pollutants into local waterways between 2018 and 2022, potentially impacting drinking supplies, ecosystems, and lagging and litigated efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
PRIDE PIVOT: This year's Pittsburgh Pride is moving again after the "unexpected" denial of access to Point State Park, WTAE reports.

QUAKER STATE: New month, new earthquake. After two in April, Pennsylvanians again felt a small tremor Wednesday, per FOX29.

SECRET SODA: A Pennsylvania court says French mineral water Perrier is actually soda and can be taxed as such, via NY Post.

BABY NAMES: Suggestion boxes are going up around Punxsutawney to find names for Punxsutawney Phil's famous progeny, per The Spirit.

EMAIL ALERT: If you have student debt from an Art Institute in Pennsylvania, be sure to check your email, WPXI reports.
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