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Inside Dems' plan to flip the PA Senate this year

Plus, 'Joe Paterno Field' proposal dropped.

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Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

Monday, February 19, 2024
Today: Senate strategy, field fumble, surplus funds, gun reform, clean slates, and Trump shoes. This is PA Post. Thanks for checking in. 

Democrats want to flip the Pennsylvania Senate this November, and party backers are eyeing a handful of districts as key to taking control of the chamber for the first time in 30 years.

Political insiders told Spotlight PA that only a small number of districts, mostly in Western and central Pennsylvania, are competitive in this year’s state Senate elections. 

In addition to picking up those seats, Democrats will also have to fend off Republican challengers in vulnerable districts where residents have increasingly voted for GOP candidates. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: The state Senate races to watch as Democrats seek the majority.


“I sort of, at this point, feel like we’re just gonna be left here to die.”
East Palestine, Ohio resident Christina Siceloff was diagnosed with chemical exposure from the train derailment there one year ago; President Biden visited for the first time Friday and blamed the crash on "greed"
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HOME IMPROVEMENTS: Join Spotlight PA next Thursday, Feb. 22, from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel discussion on the status and history of the Whole-Home Repairs program, and how advocates want to see it improved. Register here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org


Hunting Hill Mansion after a morning snowstorm at Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County, via Don N. Have a photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

snow covering concrete steps of a building
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PATERNO PIVOT: A Penn State trustee introduced then quickly withdrew a resolution to rename Beaver Stadium’s field after former coach Joe Paterno, Spotlight PA reports. Joe Paterno's son, Jay, said the school's administration does not support the idea at this time and wants to focus on things like the school’s budget deficit and upcoming cuts. He recommended holding the proposal for a future date. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.AUTOMATIC LIFE: Pennsylvania's high court has agreed to consider a constitutional challenge of some automatic life sentences for murder convictions here, the AP reports. The case, brought by Derek Lee, argues the state’s life-without-parole law violates prohibitions in the Pennsylvania and U.S. constitutions against cruel punishment.
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.SUPERSIZED SURPLUS: The Pennsylvania legislature is holding $298 million in taxpayer money in reserves, a number one Republican lawmaker described to ABC27 as "a little excessive." PennLive (paywall) reports that the money could cover eight months of operations, higher than the three months many believe is necessary. 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.REFORM CALLS: In the wake of a mass shooting in Kansas City that left one person dead and 22 injured, advocates for stricter gun laws in Pennsylvania are renewing their calls for universal background checks, KDKA reports. Two lawmakers are also pushing legislation that would ban firearms at polling places, which WITF reports states including Mississippi and Texas have already adopted. 

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.EXPANDED HELP: Pennsylvania's newly expanded Clean Slate law is giving more people with felony records a fresh start, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. People with low-level drug and property-related felony convictions who meet several requirements are now eligible to have their records sealed, giving them more access to education, employment, and housing opportunities. 
🤔 PA NEWS QUIZ: Think you know what's happening in Pennsylvania? Prove it with the latest Great PA News Quiz: 2024 ballots, flawed election claims, 'spring' snow, and Shapiro's debt eraser.
NEO-NAZI FLAGS: Fourteen white supremacists held an unauthorized rally on Saturday in Sunbury. It happened around the same time as this march in Tennessee — and in the middle of Black History Month. 

TRUMP SHOES: Former President Donald Trump visited Sneaker Con in Philly on Saturday to introduce his new $399 Trump-branded sneakers — a day after a judge ordered him to pay $355 million in a civil fraud case. 

CHIEF SUSPENDED: Dubois Police Chief Blaine Clark has been suspended and placed on paid administrative leave, but officials have yet to explain why, WTAJ reports. Officer Shawn McCleary is interim chief.

SILENT READING: A global “silent book club” has found its way to Pittsburgh. TribLIVE reports there’s no small talk required. You just read silently with others doing the same. It's “paradise for introverts.”

MONEY-MAKER: Following news that Monroeville’s convention center would be replaced with a Hobby Lobby, officials are trying to pump the brakes, saying the center is too economically important to lose.
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