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Getting unclaimed money back may get easier in Pa.

Plus, red-flag bill clears Dem-controlled Pa. House.

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The logo of PA Post, a free daily newsletter delivering the top news from across Pennsylvania every day.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Treasury fortune, gun votes, Mastriano pushback, self-harm in state custody, bolstered defenses, and Fetterman's dress code workaround. 

Pennsylvania is sitting on billions in unclaimed money that state Treasurer Stacy Garrity wants to send directly to the people it belongs to, a move that would drop the current system that leaves the legwork to owners.

Many likely have no idea that there is money waiting for them in the first place, and following the lead of states like Wisconsin and Illinois, Garrity has proposed legislation that would allow the state to automatically return some money to people with no action required on their part.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pennsylvania's treasurer wants to send unclaimed money directly to its rightful owners.

THE CONTEXT: The money — from uncashed checks, unused gift cards, unclaimed tax refunds, and more — is swept into Pennsylvania's coffers every year, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. But the money doesn't belong to the state: Its rightful owners can come and claim it anytime.

Garrity said the state Treasury can often identify a current address for people who have unclaimed funds. But under current law, the agency can send people their money back only if they file a formal claim. 

Critics, including the financial institutions responsible for turning over unclaimed funds, have long questioned whether states are doing enough to reunite people with their money. After all, many residents aren't hard for state governments to find: They pay taxes each year, update the address on their driver's license, and register to vote. 

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"What we did was, we ignited a belief, and you would often hear me say on the campaign trail that I had the audacity to believe that Philadelphia can be the safest and cleanest big city in America."

Cherelle Parker in her first public remarks since winning the likely decisive Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor; a dental emergency kept her from attending and speaking at a campaign event on primary night; Parker met with Gov. Josh Shapiro at a Philadelphia law firm on Monday
» POLICING VS. TREATMENT: Join us Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. ET for a free panel on how Pa. wants to spend a $1B opioid settlement, the policing versus treatment debate, and the way Pennsylvania's spending plans compare to other states'. Register here, send questions to events@spotlightpa.org

» ELDER LAW: Join us Thursday, June 1 at 6 p.m. ET via Zoom for a free Q&A on Pennsylvania's elder protection laws and how they could be improved. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.GUN DEBATES: The Dem-controlled state House on Monday passed a long-sought "red-flag" bill, mostly along party lines, and it's headed to the GOP-controlled state Senate. A universal background check bill also cleared the lower chamber, while a mandatory lost-and-stolen reporting bill did not. @StephenJ_Caruso has a play-by-play from the state House's first serious legislative debate over firearms in yearsToday's second top news story in Pennsylvania.GUN RECEIPTS: Montgomery will be the first county in the state to conduct gun store checks to ensure state, local, and federal standards are being met, including that sales records sent to the state police for review match the shop's inventories, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. Repeat violations could result in a license revocation. Gun shops are inspected by federal authorities every 10 years. Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.SENATE STOP: State Rep. Russ Diamond (R., Lebanon) is calling on Republicans to join him in "requesting that Doug Mastriano abandon any plans he may have to run for US Senate in 2024." Mastriano is planning a Thursday announcement amid GOP concerns that he could drag down the ticket. An early F&M College poll has Mastriano losing by 16 points to incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey
  • RELATED: Mastriano briefly discussed a possible U.S. Senate run on conservative radio Monday: "Our plans are your plans."
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PRISON DEATHS: About one-fourth of all suicides at Pennsylvania's 23 state prisons since 2018 have happened at two facilities — SCI Rockview and SCI Benner Township — in Centre County, the CDT (paywall) reports. The prisons are some of the system's oldest and newest, respectively. Four inmates have died by suicide this year at Rockview alone, the highest single-year tally there since 2011.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.LEGAL AID: Allegheny County says it's on the verge of revising the low rates it pays to court-appointed lawyers who represent indigent defendants, per PublicSource. In some cases the rates haven't been adjusted for several recessions and representation has suffered. Gov. Josh Shapiro has a modest plan to boost indigent defense in his budget, which was called up for a committee vote Monday

DRESS CODE: There's been lots of ink spilled in recent days over the return of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.)'s trademark hoodie-and-shorts ensemble in the U.S. Capitol. His team told the AP that he has a workaround for the Senate's strict dress code: votes cast from doorways

POLICE STORY: One day after WPXI reported that all but one North Braddock police officer had quit the force over the borough's decision to not renew the chief's contract, the council's president is disputing that account to WTAE and says talks are underway to create a regional police force with neighbors.

CLASS ELECTION: Elijah Majocha, 18, is graduating from student to school board. Majocha won enough votes for one of five board seats in Allegheny County's Highlands School District, where he's a high school senior. He says he'll be the youngest elected official in the state.

MUSHROOM MAN: Wired went into the woods of central Pennsylvania with William Padilla-Brown, a self-taught medicinal mushroom cultivator and founder of Harrisburg's MycoSymbiotics who's often asked if he works with magic mushrooms, to which he says, "all mushrooms are magic."

'DISNEY HOLE': @JawnWalsh tweeted a photo over the weekend that appears to show Philadelphia's "Disney hole collapsing in on itself." What's Philadelphia's Disney hole, you ask? Billy Penn explains.

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