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Pa. legislature's freshman class is large, diverse

Plus, Pennsylvania lost 40,000 people between July 2021 and July 2022, according to new census data.

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Your Postmaster: Spotlight PA Staff
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Freshman lawmakers, population loss, recount cost, jail death, report findings, insurance change, exit interview, and Pa.'s Google searches. It's Thursday. 
NEW CLASS

One of the biggest classes of first-time lawmakers in recent memory will be sworn in to the Pennsylvania legislature as leaders in the lower chamber grapple for power, complicating incoming legislators’ expressed desires to find common ground.

Nearly 50 new members will join the state House in January, making up a quarter of the chamber. Six people will also be sworn in to the state Senate for the first time, four of who previously served as lawmakers in the lower chamber.

Among the fresh faces for the 2023-24 session are lawyers, community activists, and the first physician to join the legislature in nearly 60 years. According to the AP, the freshman class is the most diverse in history

Read Spotlight PA's full report: The Pennsylvania legislature is getting a major infusion of new blood this January.


THE CONTEXT: The first-year representatives and senators were elected under brand-new legislative maps drawn during this year’s redistricting process, which created a number of districts without incumbents and set off a wave of retirements.

Those open seats provided opportunities for new blood to join the General Assembly, though many of the successful candidates first had to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. On average, their races were some of the most expensive in state history.

The new state senators are joining a chamber that will remain under Republican control. But in the state House, first-time lawmakers are entering a chamber with a razor-thin partisan divide that is being roiled by disputes over who controls it.

“A lot of us are coming in and this is causing a bad taste because we really want to get things done for our community and that includes working with the full House,” one representative-elect said.
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"When I think about it I just get teary. It’s still hard to kind of wrap your head around that someone is so willing to do this."

—Kathie Shafer, of Upper Allen Township, on the man who donated a kidney to her husband, Dave
 
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📷 POST IT

A chilly sunrise in Harrisburg, via @yatsko. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

DAILY RUNDOWN
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.POPULATION LOSS: Pennsylvania lost 40,000 people between July 2021 and July 2022, according to new census data, though the state did see a bump in births. The Inquirer reports that poppulation decline is being seen across the Northeast, not just in Pennsylvania. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.RECOUNT COST: A hand recount of the 2020 presidential election in Lycoming County will cost about $55,000, PennLive reports. Two Republican commissioners are backing the recount, which was requested by a petition that also called for the county to stop using electronic voting machines

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.JAIL DEATH: A man died inside the Dauphin County jail on Christmas Eve, the coldest night of the year in Harrisburg. He was located in the jail’s medical unit, where PennLive reports another man died of hypothermia earlier this year. This is the 17th death in the facility since the beginning of 2019. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.REPORT FINDINGS: Federal investigators released a report earlier this year declaring they "could not corroborate” a York County truck driver's claims that thousands of mail ballots were stolen outside a post office. LNP | LancasterOnline attempted to reach Jesse Morgan, as well as the legal groups that helped amplify his story, but no one was willing to talk. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TOUGH PILL: UPMC recently dropped more than 1,200 pharmacies from its health plan, stranding beneficiaries in rural Pennsylvania, The American Prospect reports. The policy change primarily affected local independent pharmacies, including one in Bedford that expects to lose roughly 20% of its customers. 
IN OTHER NEWS

EXIT INTERVIEW: Outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) spoke to the Morning Call about his accomplishments, disappointments, and more.

THE SEARCHERS: Pa.'s most searched terms in 2022, per Google trends: Wordle, Ukraine, Monkeypox, World Cup, and Amber Heard.

LIFE LESSONS: TODAY asked three centenarians, including Hanover's Les Savino, how they've lived a long, healthy life. Savino's tip? Go to the gym. 

TAKE A HIKE: Speaking of exercise! Pennsylvania is hosting dozens of guided hikes on Jan. 1 in state parks. 

NEW YEAR, NEW LAWS: ABC27 has a brief list of laws that will go into effect in 2023, including one that cracks down on people who don't pay tolls

THE SCRAMBLER
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.
 
L E N S S A I G S N E S

Yesterday's answer: Incomputable

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Don H., Wendy A., Barbara F., Vicki U., Susan N.-Z., Elaine C., Kimberly S., Starr B., Carla W., Bill S., Jon W., and Myles M. 
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Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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