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Partisan fights eclipsed Pa. legislature’s work

Plus, the state has certified the November 2022 election results. 


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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Legislative accomplishments, officially certified, full list, boosters behind, one down, tax increase, and a resettlement record. Welcome to Wednesday. 

In 2022, Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders agreed to a major budget package that spent billions in federal stimulus money, and passed the most laws in six years.

But those accomplishments were overshadowed by a number of partisan fights over abortion, executive power, gun laws, and transgender rights.

As the legislature prepares to begin a new two-year session in January — with a new governor, Democrat Josh Shapiro — Spotlight PA looks back at the General Assembly’s recent record, and the push and pull between the two branches that defines Harrisburg.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Partisan fights dominated the Pa. legislature’s recent session, eclipsing some major accomplishments.

THE CONTEXT: Wolf signed 166 bills into law this year, including 66 on a single day in November. Among that glut was a bipartisan accomplishment — a bill to help chronically ill patients access new treatments with fewer roadblocks from insurers.

Wolf and the legislature also agreed to provide extra state funding for counties in exchange for a ban on third-party funding for election administration in July 2022.

But much of the state’s election code was left untouched, leaving the highly contentious debate unfinished for the upcoming session. And that’s not the only lingering fight that’ll bleed over into next year.

"What we ultimately hope that will do is reduce the over-reliance on law enforcement, first responders, hospital emergency departments, and jails to respond to the mental and behavioral health needs of people."

—Jason Alexander, co-founder of West Chester-based Capacity for Change LLC, on plans for mobile mental health crisis teams in Chester County

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A special Christmas carousel at the King of Prussia mall, via @lora_explores. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED: Pennsylvania's top election official certified the 2022 November results late last week, according to the AP. As Votebeat and Spotlight PA previously reported, this year's certification was delayed by baseless petition recounts across the state

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.FULL LIST: Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team is made up of a leadership board, personnel committee, legal counsel, and seven advisory committees that are divided into subcommittees. Here's a full list of its members, some of whom are raising eyebrows.   

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.BOOSTERS BEHIND: Thousands of people who live in Pennsylvania's nursing homes aren’t up to date with their COVID-19 booster shots, despite being particularly vulnerable to illness. The Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania's vaccination rate is behind 25 other states and territories.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.ONE DOWN: Legislative leaders have agreed on a date to hold a special state House election in Allegheny County, but a court dispute over two others continues, PennLive reports. The election to replace late Democratic state Rep. Tony DeLuca will be held Feb. 7. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TAX INCREASE: Pennsylvania's gas tax will rise from 58 cents a gallon to 61 cents as part of an automatic increase signed into law by former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. WGAL reports that some state lawmakers are trying to do away with the mandatory increases.

CONSEQUENTIAL DECISIONS: The New York Times spoke to Joe Mohler, a Republican committeeman in Lancaster County, for a story on people who went against their voting history to reject extremism in 2022.

RESETTLEMENT RECORD: More than 1,000 refugees resettled in Allegheny County this year, most of them from Afghanistan, per WESA.

MYSTERY FOLLOW: When famous person John Cena followed Spotlight PA State College Editor Sarah Rafacz on Twitter, we were excited — and confused. Turms out she's far from the only journo he's recently followed.

SAYING GOODBYE: Hundreds of people went to Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh yesterday to say goodbye to Steelers legend Franco Harris.

GROUNDED: Travelers in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and across the U.S. have been stranded this week as airlines including Southwest canceled flights.

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 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

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Congrats to our daily winners: Don H., Wendy A., Vicki U., Kimberly D., Elaine C., Barbara F., Joel S., Susan N.-Z., Becky C., Craig W., Dianne K., Bill S., David S., James B., Stanley J., and Perry H. 
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