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These races could decide control of the PA House

Plus, life in a 'pharmacy desert.'

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Today: House control, anxious energy, voting rules, Summer scrutiny, movie credits, and life without a pharmacy. Thanks for checking in.

Democratic control of Pennsylvania's 203-member state House could rest on the outcome of a single race this November, Spotlight PA reports, and political insiders and campaign operatives say there are more than a dozen districts across the commonwealth that could go for either major party. 

Democrats have a two-vote majority in the chamber now, pending a special election for a vacant and safely Republican seat in NEPA.

Both parties want the agenda-setting power that comes with a House majority. And while Republicans see opportunity in the western part of the state, Democrats are looking to expand a growing foothold in the southeast. 

Read the full report: Pa. election 2024: The state House races to watch as Democrats try to keep the majority.


"We’ve developed a culture or a pattern that we have to have a strike to get an agreement. And I think that’s on both sides. … But I would like us not to be known as the most strike-prone transit agency.”

—History-making SEPTA Board Chair Ken Lawrence Jr. on his priorities, from fewer SEPTA labor strikes to curbing smoking and drug use on trains

'All Sun, No Shade' Beach Towel

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Golden Hour at Chester County's Bryn Coed Preserve, via @mar_sees_life. Have a Pennsylvania photo of your own to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

An old stone farmhouse in waning, orange light.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ENERGY EXPORTS: President Joe Biden's climate-focused pause on new exports of U.S. natural gas has some Pennsylvania allies — including Democratic U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman — concerned the move may hurt his chances here come November. Politico says the state's powerful trade unions are watching.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.BANNED VOTERS: State Sen. Cris Dush (R., Jefferson) wants to bar those deemed "mentally incompetent" by courts from voting in Pennsylvania, saying 34 states already do. Wisconsin Watch explained the complications that followed a similar "fraud-prevention" law there that saw 22,000 people barred from casting a ballot.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.EXCLUSIVE VOTERS: Dush, chair of the Pennsylvania Senate's State Government Committee, also wants to make voter eligibility here contingent on "revoking or disclaiming" registrations in other states. That overlaps with his crusade against a cooperative that already helps states identify duplicates and keep their voter rolls up to date.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
LEE CANCELS: U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D., Pa.) has canceled her speech at a Muslim civil rights group's banquet in Philly this weekend amid criticism from Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro and others over past comments made by other scheduled speakers. Those comments touched on Israel and LGBTQ+ issues, per TribLIVE. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.FILM CREDITS: Gov. Shapiro's administration is providing a $27 million film tax credit to “Mayor of Kingstown," citing the production's "$90 million" impact on Pittsburgh's economy. The actual benefits of such credits are hard to track, and PublicSource says film tax credits, in particular, are often used in unexpected and subversive ways.
RX DESERTS: What happens when a small Pennsylvania town loses its pharmacy? Penn State researchers say Snow Shoe residents reported rationing and sharing their prescriptions.

HIGHER PREMIUMS: A Pennsylvania retiree decided to delay Medicare enrollment for four years because she couldn't afford it at the time. Reuters explains why doing that can be "a costly lifetime mistake."

FATAL FIRE: A fire at an Allegheny County reptile rescue on Monday claimed the lives of 70 animals, including an alligator named Neo that was rescued from the Kiski River Feb. 9 after several months in the wild.

BRIDGE CAMS: License plate cameras are coming to four bridges connecting southeast Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The goal is to track cars connected to crimes, but privacy concerns have followed their use.

GREEN CAMPUS: Delaware County's Swarthmore College is ditching gas-powered heating and cooling for a system that pulls heat from campus buildings in the summer and pumps it back in during winter.
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 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Wanderer

Congrats to our daily winners: Marty M., Richard A., Jon W., Joyce D., Elaine C., Becky C., Vicki U., Ted W., Daniel M., Judith D., Bob C., Don H., Barbara F., Stacy S., Connie A. O., Mark C., Jane R., Susan N.-Z., Beth H., Kim C., Vanessa J., Stanley J., Margaret M., Ana G., Jerry G., James L., Pat E., Jeff F., Marie B., Adrien M., Ada M., William Z., Tom M., Kimberly D., Craig E., Daniel S., David W., John P., Malachy M., Wendy A., Karen W., Tish M., Lynne E., and Dan A.
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