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Telehealth free-for-all a major headache for some

Plus, Pa. congressional map bill moves — without the map.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 14, 2021
Legal void, map maneuver, invisible force, water bills, recovery homes, in limbo, and a 'cannoli catastrophe' becomes a 'miracle.' It's Tuesday.
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Dear reader, 

Without giving it all away, we've got some big news coming in 2022 to grow Spotlight PA and deliver more vital journalism. But first it's essential we hit our $70,000 end-of-year fundraising goal.

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—Christopher Baxter, Editor in Chief

“As I prepare to conclude my final term in the Senate, I want to thank the great people of the 34th senatorial district for all of their support and encouragement." 

—Senate President Jake Corman (R., Bellefonte) confirming he won't seek reelection and will instead focus on his campaign for governor
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Don't miss this chance to have your contribution TRIPLED. The future of Spotlight PA depends on your support, and we can't afford to lose this critical journalism. Make a tax-deductible gift right now and help us keep it going.
» STEPPING DOWN: Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam will resign at the end of the year, capping an 11-month stint at the center of Pennsylvania's COVID-19 response and related controversies, per Capital-Star. 

» MASK STUDY: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University found states with indoor mask rules saw lower numbers of cases during the delta variant-driven summer surge, the Post-Gazette reports.

» INDOOR DINING: Philadelphia will require proof of vaccination for indoor dining starting Jan. 3, WHYY reports. The rule applies to restaurants as well as catering halls, movie theaters, and indoor sports stadiums.

» NO PROOF: If you lost your vaccination card and received your shot outside of Philadelphia, officials have a form that allows you to request a replacement. In Philly, you should contact your vaccination site.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» LAWFUL VS. AWFUL: Join us Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom for a free panel discussion on why killings by police often are ruled justified and who oversees the process. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Out on the town for a gorgeous Friday night in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. Thanks, Dennis B.! Send us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
SANS MAP: Republicans on a key state House panel did not vote Monday on a proposed congressional map that experts say clearly benefits their own party, instead advancing empty placeholder legislation with future legal challenges in mind, Spotlight PA and Votebeat report. The panel's ranking Democrat called the move an all-too-familiar “shell game” to push through the map Republicans ultimately want.

NO DATA: A voluntary FBI program meant to offer a definitive look at how U.S. police use force on citizens could shut down next year because too few departments are participating, per the Washington Post. Reporting published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month identified Pennsylvania as having one of the lowest participation rates in the country, with just 1% of police agencies here having shared their stats.

WATER WORLD: A TribLIVE review of 24 different water providers in western Pennsylvania yielded a dramatic price range, with customers paying anywhere from $62.25 to $192.06 for 12,000 gallons of water, the average quarterly amount used in the area surveyed. Experts say the disparity has nothing to do with the actual cost of water, owing instead to a lack of oversight, aging infrastructure, rising costs, and other factors.

ON FILE: New regulations are on the books and Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for its first-ever licensing program for drug and alcohol recovery homes, part of a concerted effort to get reins on an unchecked industry amid heightened demand and escalating safety concerns. In October, Spotlight PA examined the licensing push, explaining what recovery homes do and why calls for oversight have intensified.

HOLD UP: A cornerstone of Gov. Tom Wolf's climate change agenda has hit a roadblock, with Republicans opposed to the measure slow-walking the process in a move Wolf's secretary of environmental protection called a "violation of the separation of powers." The AP reports the rule has cleared regulatory hurdles but can't take effect until it's published by an agency that answers to the Republican-controlled legislature.
OFF AIR: "The Dr. Oz Show" will end next month after 13 seasons, just as the namesake host's U.S. Senate bid gets underway in Pennsylvania, CNBC reports. Regional stations already stopped airing Mehmet Oz's show to accommodate the FCC's "equal time" rule for political candidates. 

TOLL TAKERS: The Pennsylvania Turnpike will install overhead tolling gantries on nine bridges eyed as new revenue sources by PennDOT. PennDOT's upkeep-focused tolling plan isn't approved yet, but The Post-Gazette reports the turnpike is an obvious choice to operate the system.

SALT HOUSE: Two historic houses built by the Penn Salt Company in the 1850s and originally set aside for families of those who served in the Civil War are being torn down in Natrona. TribLIVE reports a third, previously restored home could become a small local museum. 

CANNOLI MIRACLE: A Christmas crisis was averted at Termini Bros. Bakery in South Philadelphia, where the failure of an 80-year-old piece of specialty equipment threatened a "cannoli catastrophe," per The Inquirer. Luckily, Port Richmond Tool & Die was there to save the holiday.

SKY HIGH: I leave you today with this vertigo-inducing photo of Philly from above — way above. Thanks for reading. I'll see you back here tomorrow. 
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.
Yesterday's answer: Supersonic or percussion

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Michelle T., Barbara F., Mike B., Craig W., Neal W., Bonnie R., Susan D., Bruce T., Daniel M., Patricia M., Susan N., Becky C., Janet C., Jessica K., Briann M., Craig E., Elaine C., Kimberly S., Irene R., Joel S., James B., Don H., George S., Chris M., David W., John P., Jill K., Bill S., John H., Vicki U., Beth T., Eddy Z., David S., Ann E., Kim C., and Wendy A.
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