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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 31, 2021
Internal investigations, no trace, opioid suit, criminal charges, probable cause, shutdown averted, and New Year's Eve plans. It's Friday. See you in 2022.
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Dear reader, 

There are just hours left to help us raise a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. If you've been putting off your contribution, or are ready to make an end-of-year gift, you can do so here.

We have just $5,000 to go by midnight tonight.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians have stepped forward to support Spotlight PA's investigative and public-service reporting because they know it's vital to upholding democracy in our state. Why not join them right now?

Spotlight PA is in the final stretch of its most important membership drive of the year, and every dollar counts. Please give now.

Onwards together,

—Christopher Baxter, Editor in Chief
INTERNAL AFFAIRS
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"It's a new consumer protection, and we're making it as easy as possible to navigate. We are a one-stop shop."

—Jessica Altman of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department on the Jan. 1 onset of a federal rule barring surprise medical bills from outside a patient's network
LAST CHANCE!
There are just hours left to help us raise a massive $100,000 in support of Spotlight PA's vital journalism. That's enough money to pay for one reporting position for an entire year. Help us end the year strong by making a tax-deductible gift now. 
💉 COVID-19 NEWS
» HELP NEEDED: Federal strike teams will soon be dispatched to hospitals in Lackawanna and York Counties, though those areas aren't the only ones asking for help, according to the Post-Gazette.

» TEST QUESTIONS: Officials say that while at-home tests do detect the omicron variant, early data suggests they may be less adept at it, per the AP.

» LONG WAITS: Penn State Health is asking the public not to come to its emergency rooms seeking routine COVID-19 tests, PennLive reports.

» NO INFO: The state Department of Health is fighting LNP's request to make coronavirus death data by ZIP code public.  

» THE LATEST: Despite the surge, a top CDC official says hospitalizations remain "comparatively low," Reuters 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).
 
📅 UPCOMING EVENTS
» MAPPING POWER: Join us Thursday, Jan. 6 at noon EST for a free panel on the proposed state House and Senate maps, how they could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
 
📷 POST IT
The after-Christmas snow in eastern Clearfield County. Thanks, Don H.Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
'NOT A TRACE': Investigating the placement of sex offenders in nursing, personal care, and assisted-living homes, TribLIVE found almost no state-level accounting and significant hurdles for inquiring individuals without a central registry of paroled offenders who live in such facilities.

OPIOID DEAL: Some 50 Pennsylvania counties have agreed to join a historic opioid settlement touted by AG Josh Shapiro as a means of bringing more than $1 billion to Pennsylvania, per the Daily Item. But two notable holdouts are fighting against the deal as too little, too late.

CRIMINAL CASE: Darby Township Commissioner Marvin Smith has been arrested on charges he lured a boy into his car and sexually assaulted the child, allegations reported to police in 2019. The township doesn't plan to take any action against Smith, a Democrat, without a conviction.

WEED LAWS: Pennsylvania's Supreme Court says the smell of marijuana alone is not enough justification for a vehicle search, per the AP, while a Philadelphia ordinance banning pre-employment drug screenings for THC, the primary active ingredient in cannabis, is set to take effect on Jan. 1.

NO SHUTDOWN: A government shutdown that would have halted all but emergency operations in York has been avoided, with council members overriding the mayor's veto of their 2022 budget amid a standoff over its use of COVID-19 relief dollars, or lack thereof, the Dispatch reports.
IN OTHER NEWS
GRINCH STOLE GRISWOLD: Officials in Berwick are on the lookout for the grinch (or grinches) who took a mannequin dressed as Clark Griswold from the borough's Christmas Boulevard. "We have a very aggressive police department and this is high on their radar, trust me," the mayor warned.

IT'S ON: The Mummers parade scheduled for Jan. 1 in Philadelphia will go on (unless it rains). Unfamiliar with the tradition and the various controversies it has caused? Billy Penn has you covered.

TASTY TRADITION: It's almost New Year's Day, which means it's almost time to eat pork and sauerkraut to ensure good luck in 2022. If one of your resolutions is "eat less meat," consider this vegan alternative.

GET OUT: Maybe you're resolved to spend more time outdoors next year? Many state parks are participating in a New Year's Day tradition called First Day Hikes. Here's a list of participating trails.

STAY HOME: Or perhaps your intentions involve the couch and a homemade cocktail? On New Year's Eve, PBS is airing a concert filmed outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia that was hosted by Chita Rivera.
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.
 
N N A Z A I E D U L
 
Yesterday's answer: Abrogate

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Beth T., Mike B., Becky C., Neal W., Suzanne O., Michelle T., Susan N.-Z., Kim C., Susan D., Kimberly S., Betty W., Don H., Jay H., Al M., James B., Alan V., Elaine C., Irene R., Myles M., Craig W., John N., Joel S., Karen W., Marty M., Bill S., Doris T., Scott R., George S., Craig E., and David W.
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SUPPORT SPOTLIGHT PA
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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