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Tracking Gov. Shapiro’s biggest campaign promises

Plus, residents near toxic train crash sue for health checks.


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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
Monday, February 13, 2023
Followup questions, 2020 ruling, health scares, aftereffects, majority report, office faceoff, and the Eagles come up short in 38-35 Super Bowl loss.

Spotlight PA has begun an ambitious effort to track how Democrat Josh Shapiro is delivering on campaign promises now that he's governor.

In the coming months, Spotlight PA will track Shapiro's progress on some of the key commitments he made on the campaign trail, from pocketbook issues to energy and the environment, voting rights, and criminal justice. 

Read the full project primer: Tracking Shapiro's biggest promises.

THE CONTEXT: On pocketbook issues, for example, Shapiro has said that the state "needs" to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15, a position that legislative Democrats have long championed.

The move would require legislative approval, and many Republicans in the state House have previously opposed such an increase.

However, Democrats are now in control of the state House for the first time in more than a decade, giving Shapiro more leverage. 

Spotlight PA will track progress on this commitment as well as his pledge to help hire 2,000 more police statewide, provide $250 gas tax refunds to motorists, close the "ghost gun" loophole, and much more. 

You can support this public service journalism by donating here.

Read more: Who has Gov. Shapiro nominated for his cabinet?


"These are some of the worst numbers I have ever seen for any poll for any candidate ... There is no doubt in my mind based on this data that if George Halcovage is our candidate in the fall, we all lose."

—GOP state Sen. David Argall on GOP Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr.'s reelection bid amid an ongoing scandal

The trunk of a Katsura tree at the University of Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum, via @noraodendahl. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of a tree trunk with small branches growing out of it.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PARTISAN PROBE: A Pennsylvania court won't force the Department of State to release private voter information to state Senate Republicans as part of their attempt to investigate the 2020 election. But Spotlight PA and Votebeat report that doesn't mean the partisan probe is over: The court left the door open for Republicans to continue seeking voters' partial Social Security numbers and more by other means.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.TOXIC TESTING: Residents impacted by a toxic train derailment steps from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border are suing to force Norfolk Southern to set up health monitoring for residents in both states, the AP reports. Some have complained about headaches and sickness since. Officials blame an axle defect for the crash, while unions blame Wall Street, saying profit motives have squeezed safety checks

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.FETTERMAN UPDATE: U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) was released from the hospital on Friday, two days after lightheadedness led him to seek treatment. Doctors didn't find signs of a new stroke, his office said, as The New York Times (paywall) provides new details on the lingering challenges imposed by the near-fatal one he suffered last year. Staff told the paper more needs to be done to protect his health.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.OPEN SEAT: State Rep. John Galloway (D., Bucks) tells LevittownNow.com he's interested in running for a district judge seat in his hometown of Falls Township. The seat's current occupant plans to retire next year, and Galloway believes his legislative experience is transferable. If he won, it could complicate or erase his party's newfound and exceedingly narrow majority in the state House.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.TAKE OFFICE: Days after moderate GOP state Rep. Tom Mehaffie (Dauphin) said he was stripped of his Capitol office by his party's leadership for failing to fall in line on several issues, Democratic State House Speaker Mark Rozzi (Berks) said he will block the change. Rozzi says he gets final say as speaker and "will not allow taxpayer-funded office spaces to be used for these underhanded purposes."

NO CHANGE: Striking Post-Gazette workers report little progress in their first bargaining session with the paper's owners since a judge ordered them back to the table: "The company brought no new proposals forward."

MARS FINE: OSHA fined Mars Wrigley nearly $15,000 months after two workers fell into a chocolate tank at the company's M&M factory in Lancaster County. The fine was accompanied by a citation for poor training.

WATCH NOW: On the heels of pivotal special elections in Allegheny County, Spotlight PA held a virtual event on the special election process, why they matter, and a bill that could dramatically alter them going forward.

MALL DEMO: The Harrisburg Mall's owners want to demolish everything except Bass Pro Shops to make way for a redevelopment project they hope would appeal to new stores, offices, and manufacturing.

<3 REMINDER: Tomorrow is Valentine's Day (and today is Galentine's Day). Hidden City reports on how one Pennsylvania publication helped "open the floodgates to the commercialization of the holiday of love."

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.

Yesterday's answer: Egregious

Congrats to our weekly winner: Cassandra N.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Vicki U., Lynne E., Starr B., Kimberly D., Beth T., Don H., Jane R., Jon W., Marty M., Mike B., Kimberly B., Susan D., Barbara F., Wendy A., John P., Keith W., Joel S., Ada M., Judith D., Elaine C., Jacqueline G., Susan N.-Z., Mark O., Dennis M., Kim C., Patricia R., Deb N., Craig E., Daniel M., William Z., Paul P., Trudy W., Dianne K., Bill S., Bruce B., Michelle T., Keith F., James B., Stanley J., and Irene R. 
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