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Dems đź‘Ť, GOP đź‘Ž in new Pa. political maps

Plus, hunting clubs sue over 'unconstitutional' Game Commission power.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 17, 2021
Map out, Perry plot, Proud Boys, surveillance suit, ER backlog, controversial choice, and Pennsylvania birders form a union. It's Friday!! 
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The long-awaited, highly anticipated drafts of Pennsylvania's new state legislative maps were unveiled on Thursday, marking a major milestone in the once-in-a-decade and politically pivotal redistricting process.

Spotlight PA and Votebeat report the immediate flashpoint was the draft of the state House map, which would force 12 incumbent Republicans into showdowns, as opposed to two Democrats.

Republicans called it a clear effort by Democrats to seize control. Democrats called it the undoing of years of unfair Republican gerrymandering.

You can view the House map here, and the Senate map here.

THE CONTEXT: The maps were drafted by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, a five-person panel comprising four top legislative leaders from both parties and one nonpartisan appointee. 

The process is distinct from that involving Pennsylvania's U.S. congressional map — a draft of which advanced in controversial fashion this week — but similarly consequential, affecting Harrisburg's balance of power.

The state Senate map was unanimously backed by the five-member commission, while the House map passed by a 3-2 vote, with the two Democrats and the independent chairperson, Mark Nordenberg, voting yes.

The public — that includes including citizens and lawmakers in this case — now has 30 days to submit comments. You can do that here.


“I am a woman and Scott Porter does not fit my gender. It is for a man. And I am not a man — I’m a woman.”

—Chauntey Mo'Nique Porter, one of two transgender women with felony convictions granted a legal name change despite a state prohibition
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đź’‰ COVID-19 NEWS
» ARM CONFLICT: One state lawmaker is offering "vaccine exemption assistance" as local doctors beg people to get the shot, per TribLIVE.

» STICKER SHOCK: COVID-19 significantly elevated both the risk of dying during a hospital stay in Pennsylvania and the cost of care, per PennLive.

» TOP CHOICE: A CDC panel is calling Pfizer and Moderna vaccines the "preferred option" over Johnson & Johnson's, NBC News reports. 

» FINALS WEEK: The University of Pennsylvania will move all final exams online next week to limit viral spread, The Daily Pennsylvanian reports.

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).
đź“· POST IT
Late afternoon view of Cherry Springs' "Dark Sky" viewing area. Look at those clear skies! Thanks, Don H.! Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MEET UP: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) was present in a meeting that "set the course for former President Donald Trump's attempts to undo President Joe Biden's 2020 victory," via The New York Times. Another lawmaker on hand says it was only a media strategy session.

PHOTO OP: Three more Philadelphia Proud Boys have been charged in the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol after taking photos inside a senator's office during the siege, The Inquirer reports. The chapter's leader has also been named in a federal lawsuit related to the attack.

TAKE AIM: Two Clearfield County hunting clubs are suing over Pennsylvania Game Commission property searches and surveillance. The Post-Gazette reports the suit argues that state law gives game officers unconstitutionally broad investigative power. 

WAIT TIMES: UPMC is denying reports of 50-hour emergency department wait times at its Altoona hospital following a rally by nurses outside the health giant's Pittsburgh headquarters this week, TribLIVE reports. The union nurses are calling for more resources.

HAND-PICKED: Outgoing Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto plans to promote his longtime bodyguard to an assistant chief role with the city's police bureau, WPXI reports, passing over lieutenants and commanders in the process. The outlet says officers are outraged.
PUFF STUFF: Singer and actress Selena Gomez is fast-growing Philly startup GoPuff's newest investor, PhillyVoice reports. Not to be outdone, the Pittsburgh Penguins can claim LeBron James as a new owner.

CREDIT CUT: Touted as a transformational anti-poverty tool for families in states like Pennsylvania nationwide, President Joe Biden's expanded child tax credit payments are over if Congress doesn't reach a deal, Vox reports.

BARGAINING FLIGHTS: The "bird nerds" at Pennsylvania's Audubon Society have jumped on the union organizing wave, voting overwhelmingly in favor of joining the Communication Workers of America, per City Paper.

SOLD SEPARATE: A bill that would eliminate the need for separate beer and booze sales in Pennsylvania is on the move. While we wait, here's the history behind Pennsylvania's weird liquor laws, via The Inquirer.

GOOD GIFTS: A 95-year-old woodworker from Fayette County named Ed Higinbotham spends all year making wooden toys that then become holiday gifts for area kids. "It's just something that I enjoy doing," he told WTAE.
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