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Pa. state liquor stores pull Russian booze

Plus, the feds are suing Pennsylvania's court system.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
February 28, 2022
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Court lawsuit, map-lash, line dance, mail voting, legal action, 'shameful' suggestion, and liquor stores implement Russian booze boycott. It's Monday.
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The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Pennsylvania's court system for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against people with opioid use disorder.

The legal action follows a warning that courts in eight Pennsylvania counties had wrongly barred or limited access to legal, lifesaving addiction treatments, like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.

“This lawsuit aims to safeguard the rights of people with opioid use disorder who are too often subject to discrimination rooted in stereotypes and myths rather than in science,” a Justice official said in a press release.

THE CONTEXT: As Spotlight PA reported earlier this month, the Department of Justice told the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania that it should adopt or revise existing policies to ensure courts under its jurisdiction allow the use of medications for opioid use disorder.

The system should also pay damages to people harmed by the bans, update the process for people with disabilities to file discrimination complaints, and train all court staff.

Failure to do so could result in legal action by the Justice Department, the agency warned in a letter at the time.

In response, the state court system said it was meeting the requirements of the ADA and, "accordingly, ... there is no basis for injunctive relief." That led DOJ to file the suit.

Spotlight PA previously spoke to Sonya Mosey, who was told to stop taking physician-prescribed medication for opioid use disorder by Jefferson County.

"Honestly, I knew I was going to relapse, and I was probably going to die," Mosey said of trying to stop the medication. "I knew my parents were probably going to have to bury me."

"I would have dropped everything that I was doing to look at it. I never was presented with this warrant. Nobody came to me and said, 'Judge, we have this specific warrant in urgent need of immediate review.'"

—Progressive Pittsburgh-area magistrate Mik Pappas responding to complaints from police that he slow-walked a high-profile murder warrant
» RELAXED RULES: The CDC has cut indoor mask recommendations for most counties nationwide, places where the risk of hospitals being overwhelmed is lower. Find the guidance for your county with this tool.

» LOCAL RESPONSE: Friday's indoor mask guidance update saw some schools in western Pennsylvania quickly update their own policies in response. In Philadelphia, mask rules remain in place for now.

» ENDEMIC PLAN: Pennsylvania is ready to transition to the endemic phase of COVID-19, meaning a public health response more targeted to outbreaks and long-term prevention, but it's waiting for the WHO to make the call

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).
» THE FINAL STRETCH: Join us Thursday, March 3 at 5 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on the court challenges to Pa.'s electoral maps and how they could affect your community. Register for the event here. Have questions for our panelists? Send them to events@spotlightpa.org.
Mister Rogers says hello from Pittsburgh in a tribute sculpture by artist Robert Berks. Thanks for sharing, @zulu91qSend us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
COURT CHECKS: Upset over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's choice of the new congressional map, Republicans are again eyeing new limits on the court's redistricting power, with similarly stymied GOP lawmakers in other states doing the same. In legislative reapportionment news: Republican lawmakers who want the old state House and state Senate lines to guide the May primary have been dealt another setback.

SHIFTING SEAT: The state Supreme Court's choice of congressional map puts U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) in a district that ranks as one of the Democrats' best chances for a flip, PennLive reports. That could set up a referendum vote on Perry, a focal point of ongoing election meddling and Jan. 6 inquiries. Meanwhile, one progressive group wants state officials to use their powers to bar him from the ballot.

MAIL CALL: The Wolf administration is appealing a ruling that overturned Pennsylvania's expanded mail voting law, arguing among other points that it's too late to make the change without disrupting the spring primary. Department of State lawyers say changes now would "only exacerbate voter confusion and the danger of disenfranchisement." The ruling that's being appealed is set to take effect on March 15.

LUNCH MONEY: A pandemic-era program that paused lunch debt collections in schools nationwide is set to expire this July. A group of Bucks County community groups is trying to cancel school lunch debt forever. As of October last year, Pennsylvania had a total of $14.9 million in student lunch debt.

CANDID RESPONSE: State senator and gubernatorial hopeful Jake Corman wants a rival in the governor's race investigated for possible campaign finance violations. But the Franklin County district attorney he's urging to lead the probe of Doug Mastriano's fundraising reports is calling the idea "frivolous" and "shameful." District Attorney Matthew Fogal told The Inquirer, "This is a political stunt." 
BOOZE BOYCOTT: Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board will remove Russian-made spirits from the shelves of state-run liquor stores and join a growing boycott inspired by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Gov. Tom Wolf called for the change, which affects just two products. 

LIQUOR LESSONS: As Pennsylvania once again considers privatizing its state-run liquor store program, TribLIVE reports Washington state may offer some lessons and warnings 10 years after liquor privatization there.

OPEN HOUSE: In August, Reader's Digest profiled a Ukrainian Catholic church in Centralia that has kept its doors open through 60 years of fire and a mass exodus of people from the once-booming coal town.

NEW PHASE: NYC-based Tishman Speyer has been tapped to help turn a 178-acre former steel mill site in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood into a fully functional residential and commercial community, per WESA.

BEAR BOND: Two years after a PETA complaint saw him removed from the Union County Sportsmen's Club, Dillan the Valley Asiatic black bear is living happily in Colorado with a girlfriend named Lily, per the Daily Item.
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.

*This week's theme: Movies that were set or filmed in Pennsylvania

Friday's answer: Procatalepsis

Congrats to our weekly winner: William S.

Congrats to our daily winners: Doris T., Don H., Dianne K., and Craig E.
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