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Agencies face off over Wolf's delayed carbon fee

Plus, what's next for Pa.'s congressional map case.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
February 8, 2022
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Recommended action, frozen fee, budget address, DOJ footing, telehealth benefits, too soon, and a 'legendary' moonshine bust. It's Tuesday. 
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The Commonwealth Court judge tasked with recommending Pennsylvania's next congressional map to the state's Supreme Court has chosen the option Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed as a partisan gerrymander last month.

Spotlight PA and Votebeat report the high court is not bound to follow Judge Patricia McCullough's recommendation and is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the pivotal redistricting case on Feb. 18.

The state Supreme Court is set to decide Pennsylvania's new U.S. House map after Gov. Wolf and lawmakers failed to reach a deal with time dwindling before the May 17 primary and related candidate deadlines. 

McCullough's report to the high court also suggests an adjusted timeline for candidates to circulate the nominating petitions needed to land on the ballot.

COMPARE, CONTRAST: It's been four days since the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission approved new state House and state Senate maps in a separate redistricting process, and legal challenges are possible

Use Spotlight PA's updated comparison tool to see how your state legislative districts will change under the maps approved by the LRC in a 4-to-1 vote on Friday. Just enter your address to see the before and after.

Then see how the contested state House map, which is more competitive than the last, scores on key requirements in the state Constitution.
In appreciation of the grandparents who have helped us parents navigate the quick turns of this pandemic for the past two years. With love, Colin D.
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Here's how it works: Make a donation of $25 or more to Spotlight PA using this special link, put your shoutout in the "I am contributing because..." box, and we’ll include it right here for everyone in the state to see.

"You really don't know what you're getting [on the black market], so would regulation take care of that? Probably."

—Detective John Goshert discussing the impacts of legalizing recreational cannabis during Pennsylvania's first legislative hearing on the subject
» LEGAL COVER: A bill shielding doctors who prescribe unproven COVID-19 treatments from disciplinary action by Pennsylvania's licensing board has advanced out of a state House committee, per PennLive.

» SCHOOL STORY: The Post-Gazette profiles high school seniors for whom Friday, March 13, 2020, the day Pennsylvania schools were ordered to shut down over COVID-19, was the last "normal" day of their student careers

» COLD SNAP: If your free, at-home COVID-19 tests sat in your mailbox for a while, make sure the liquid inside isn't frozen when you bring them in. USA Today reports tests exposed to extreme cold could be less accurate

» LONG COVID: WHYY health reporter Nina Feldman chronicles her own breakthrough case of COVID-19, which started around Christmas and has caused a lingering cycle of after-effects ever since.

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).

» BALLOT BATTLE: Join us Thursday, Feb. 17 ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania's mail voting law, the ruling striking it down, and what comes next. Register here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

A painting by Pennsylvania native Karen Bolden, who has since passed away. Her friend and PA Poster Don H. writes: "She was a city girl but loved animals and painting natural subjects. She spent her entire career in laboratories analyzing water from streams, creeks, and rivers across PA. This painting of a red fox was her final effort, and not her best by far, but every time I see it I'm reminded of how complex her struggles were and how loving her soul." 
Send us your gems or use #PAGems on Instagram.
LEGAL LIMBO: Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection is suing a state agency for refusing to publish a regulation that would make Gov. Wolf's landmark carbon fee for power plants official, per Reuters. The suit argues the Legislative Reference Bureau lacks the power to decide which regulations to publish and is incorrectly heeding a last-ditch legislative effort to block the fee from taking effect.

COLLEGE PLAN: Gov. Wolf gives his final budget address today, and officials with Pennsylvania's beleaguered state-run university system hope his proposal includes a significant funding boost, the Post-Gazette reports. Without a sizable increase in this budget and those to come, they warn a controversial redesign of the system won't get far. Watch Wolf's budget address here starting at 11:30 a.m. 

SAFE SITES: The U.S. Department of Justice is signaling it may now be open to supervised injection sites in cities like Philadelphia, which was set to host the nation's first before a lawsuit by Trump's DOJ helped derail the plan. The sites would still be illegal, but the U.S. attorney could exercise discretion and avoid legal action as Philly continues to face the acute impacts of an ongoing opioid and overdose crisis.

HEALTH CHOICES: A UPenn study found Black patients in Philadelphia were much more likely to attend follow-up appointments after hospitalizations when telemedicine was an option, bridging a historical racial gap in appointment show rates, per WHYY. In December, Spotlight PA reported telemedicine is a rural lifeline, too, but Pennsylvania lacks a law making it more accessible

RAIN CHECKS: A state court says Philadelphia's and Allegheny County's district attorneys challenged Attorney General Josh Shapiro's $1 billion opioid settlement too soon and must wait until it's finalized, the AP reports. Philly DA Larry Krasner says they will. The DAs argue the deal is too little, too late and could hinder their ability to seek further compensation from the drug makers involved.
PAST IS PROLOGUE: A Johnstown native and former Richland Township cop led an investigation into who reported the location of Anne Frank and her family to the Nazis. Vincent Pankoke's research is the basis for a new book, one that's prompted an apology and much debate.

BOOTLEG BUST: The Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement has charged a Centre County couple with operating a decades-old moonshine business in Port Matilda. An undercover officer says the couple claimed to be using a recipe from a "legendary moonshiner" and former NASCAR driver.

'QUAKER COMET': An 18th century Philadelphia Quaker named Benjamin Lay, aka "The Quaker Comet," protested using sugar made by enslaved people years before other Quakers followed suit, per The Conversation.

ANGRY BIRDS: Workers concerned that a dive-bombing owl threatened to scare off rare bald eagles from a nest at a West Mifflin steel plant built more perches in hopes of avoiding a bird fight, per TribLIVE.

AD GUY: You can watch this quasi-uncomfortable campaign ad featuring Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R., Centre) and a "1990s hair-band rocker" here, or you can wait for it to blanket the airwaves.
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: Arts and crafts

Yesterday's answer: Embossing

Congrats to our daily winners: Becky C., Michelle T., Vicki U., Keith F., Mark O., Beth T., Bonnie R., Susan N.-Z., Elaine C., Stephanie J., Don H., Doris T., Jill M., Patricia M., Daniel M., Judith D., Deb N., Elizabeth W., Mary Jo J., Pat B., Barbara F., Kimberly S., Susan D., George S., William S., Luke E., Craig W., Al M., James B., Bill S., Eddy Z., Carol D., Karen M., Jodine M., Kim C., Christine R., Dianne K., Suzanne S., Nancy S., Starr B., David W., Joel S., Cindy G., John A., Karen W., and Lex M.
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