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For us at Spotlight PA, 2022 went by in the blink of an eye — yet so much happened in our state. We experienced a major midterm election, a turbulent redistricting cycle, the final year of Gov. Tom Wolf's time in office, and so much more.
Below, we recap the biggest stories from 2022 and look ahead to what's next. But first, we really need your help. If you rely on PA Post each day, or if you value the Spotlight PA stories you've read this year, please make a year-end, tax-deductible gift now so this work can continue.
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A sunrise with the moon, from Eric G.-S. in Ambler. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
This year, Pennsylvania adopted new congressional and legislative maps during a highly partisan, tumultuous process.
Every 10 years, Pennsylvania redraws its political boundaries to account for population changes. Because of the state’s sluggish growth, Pennsylvania lost one of its 18 seats in Washington.
Typically, the congressional map is drawn and approved through a process akin to passing legislation through the General Assembly. But Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a map sent to him by legislative Republicans, saying it failed “the test of fundamental fairness.” The state Supreme Court took control of the process and eventually picked a map that closely resembled the previous one.
The state House and Senate maps, meanwhile, are drawn by a five-member panel made up of legislative leaders and one nonpartisan chair — in this case, former Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg. The panel voted 4-1 to adopt a largely unchanged state Senate map and a state House map that advocates said reversed years of gerrymandering.
State budget and stimulus money
In Wolf’s final year in office, the Democratic governor and GOP leaders negotiated a state budget that boosted education spending and squirreled away more money for a rainy day.
They also created a state child tax credit that will allow families to claim thousands of dollars in benefits and agreed on a plan to spend billions in remaining federal stimulus money on priorities including a whole homes repair program.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade this year, handing decisions about abortion rights to governors and state lawmakers.
The June ruling did not have an immediate impact in Pennsylvania, as Wolf vowed to veto any attempts to further roll back access in the state. But it did raise the stakes for the November election — Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro supports abortion access and GOP nominee Doug Mastriano backs a near-complete ban.
Shapiro won the November election, ensuring no legislation curtailing abortion will be signed into law. And while legislative Republicans previously backed sending a referendum on abortion to the voters, they appear unlikely to attempt the strategy in 2023.
The November election
Pennsylvania was thrust into the national spotlight this year as a key state to watch during the midterm election.
In the race for governor, Shapiro was uncontested during the Democratic primary while Mastriano emerged from a crowded Republican field. The far-right state senator saw a rapid rise to prominence built on election denial, Christianity, and Facebook.
Spotlight PA focused its attention on the governor’s race, breaking down where the candidates stood on major issues.
The U.S. Senate race pitted Democrat John Fetterman against Republican Mehmet Oz. Fetterman suffered a stroke shortly before the primary, and his recovery became a major topic in the lead-up to Nov. 8. Much of the media coverage of Oz, meanwhile, focused on his campaigning style (remember the crudité video?).
In the end, Democrats emerged victorious in those major races. The party also won 102 seats in the 203-member state House, thanks to a new map that accounted for population shifts from rural to urban and suburban areas. That majority, however, quickly disappeared because of the death of one incumbent and the resignations of two others who won different elected offices.
Battle for control of that chamber will be one of the first major stories of 2023.
The end of the Wolf era
Wolf’s eight years in office will soon come to an end.
During his final year in office, the Democrat played a major role in the congressional redistricting process, rejecting a map drawn by legislative Republicans and sending the issue to the state Supreme Court.
He also presided over his final budget — asking the General Assembly for a nearly $2 billion boost in education spending — sued the legislature over proposed constitutional amendments, and negotiated a massive economic development package that encourages natural gas development in Pennsylvania.
We'll have more on Wolf's record and legacy in January.
>> More major stories from 2022:
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted
R I M A W P H O N S K
Friday's answer: Splendiferous
Congrats to our daily winners: Barbara F., Elaine C., Craig W., Jon W., Lynne E., Don H., Wendy A., Susan N.-Z., Dianne K., Kimberly D., Myles M., Bill S., and Kim C.