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One year after the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, USA Today reporters gathered recollections from four Pennsylvania congresspeople who hunkered down as a violent mob smashed through windows and stormed legislative chambers in a bid to thwart the democratic process:
THE CONTEXT: In the run-up to the U.S. Capitol breach, more than 60 state House Republicans, including top lawmakers, urged Pennsylvania's congressional delegation to reject the state's electoral college votes for Biden on Jan. 6, Spotlight PA reported. Many of their state Senate counterparts sent a similar letter asking Congress to delay certification.
- Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild of Philadelphia, seen here taking cover, said: "I kind of felt like I was having a heart attack. I've never had a heart attack, thank God, but that's what I thought was happening."
- U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Montgomery County Democrat who prosecuted the resulting impeachment case against former President Donald Trump, said she still doesn't feel safe at work.
- U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Philadelphia, the only Republican in Pennsylvania's delegation to vote "yes" on certifying President Joe Biden's victory, said he'll never forget how the siege sounded inside.
- U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Butler), who backed Trump's efforts to overturn 2020's election results, said he would "never have expected" the kind of response they witnessed, at least "not in America."
They cited an expansion of Pennsylvania's mail voting law that many supported just one year prior, arguing that broad interpretations of the new guidelines had undermined the law's original intent.
Some took their opposition further. After months of trying to discredit Pennsylvania's election with unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, state Sen. Doug Mastriano's campaign spent thousands of dollars bussing Trump supporters to D.C. for a Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally that fed the riot.
While the Franklin County Republican was seen on the Capitol grounds that day, there's no indication he participated in the attack. He went on to briefly lead an ongoing probe of Pennsylvania's 2020 election billed as a means of "restoring faith in the system" and is expected to run for governor this year.
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
"In the future, I plan to continue fighting in defense of our God-given rights and our Constitution wherein they are affirmed!"—Conservative state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) announcing he won't seek re-election in 2022. His current term ends on Nov. 30.
|» ADDED URGENCY: Like the country as a whole, Pennsylvania is seeing a sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases. The state's health secretary says it's not cause for panic, but rather a call for "immediate action," via Capital-Star.|
» FIRST-PERSON: PublicSource reporter Oliver Morrison decided to ask his neighbor why he hadn't gotten the COVID-19 vaccine yet and compiled the answers in an audio piece on the "surprising lessons of a skeptic."
» TESTING CHECKS: Philadelphia health officials say they will try to regulate COVID-19 testing sites after issuing warnings about pop-up tents that falsely claimed to have FEMA backing, The Inquirer reports.
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).
|» MAPPING POWER: Join us Thursday, Jan. 6 at noon EST for a free panel on the proposed state House and Senate maps, how they could shift political power, and their potential impact on Pennsylvanians. Register for the event here and submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.|
|Thanks, Juliet Z., for this gorgeous sketch of the Pittsburgh sunset. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.|
|OPEN DATA: A voting-system manufacturer at the center of fervent 2020 election conspiracy theories has asked a Pennsylvania court to ensure that only federally accredited test labs conduct reviews of its equipment here, the ask coming as state Republican lawmakers leading a contested 2020 election review move to have an unaccredited and inexperienced firm inspect Dominion's machines in Fulton County.|
HARDBALL PLAY: Capital-Star reports that outgoing Gov. Tom Wolf used state funding for local projects as leverage to get Democratic lawmakers in line on his carbon fee plan for power plants, a cornerstone of the Democrat's climate change agenda. By doing so, Wolf deprived a GOP-led push to thwart the plan of a veto-proof majority. Observers call it an uncharacteristically aggressive move.
DANGEROUS GAMES: One month before white nationalists marched through Philadelphia in July, hundreds of researchers and scholars joined a new anti-extremism collaborative launched by the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon. The Inquirer reports their early work will focus on moderation by social media platforms, extremism in the military, and a new front in white supremacist recruiting: video games.
BALLOT LIMBO: Undated mail ballots that could decide a close race for judge in Lehigh County should not be counted, a divided Commonwealth Court ruled on Monday, reversing a lower court's earlier decision in the case. But Lehigh Valley Live reports Monday's ruling may not be the final word on the matter, with an attorney for the trailing Democratic candidate planning an appeal to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court.
LGBTQ LAWS: A new Williams Institute study ranks Pennsylvania 24th out of 50 states for legal protections of the LGBTQ community, with no statewide laws in place around LGBTQ hate crimes, bullying, conversion therapy, housing discrimination, and more, the Morning Call reports. Meanwhile, a push to significantly expand the legal safety net has stalled in the state's Republican-controlled General Assembly.
|TIL: Inquirer reporter Ryan Briggs tweeted a brief history lesson about Bessie Burchett, a Philly school teacher who became a far-right darling for leading a conspiratorial education debate that gripped the district in the 1930s and who triggered a student riot after she spoke at a Nazi rally in 1937.|
WATER BILLS: If you live in Pennsylvania and are behind on your water bills, a temporary "crisis grant" program that launched on Tuesday can help you avoid shut-offs or reverse shut-offs that already happened. Up to $2,500 in drinking water and wastewater assistance is available.
NEW ROLES: How does one go from playing "Brad the Bad Kisser" on HBO's "Sex and the City" to being the COO of a York plastic-waste production plant? Ross Gibby told York Daily Record about his unusual career trajectory and how work in film inspired his current career in recycling.
CASH IN: New year, new toll hike on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. But the "annual rite of passage" is different this time, according to the Post-Gazette, which says the added revenue may go further in improving the system now that commercial traffic is up and financial obligations are down.
SUMMER OF BUGS: Remember cicadas? Remember 2021's Summer of the Cicadas? Me neither. But the good folks over at the Irish Literary Times report the teenagers of Brood X weren't just noisy for the sake of being noisy. No, they were dead poets with something to say.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
N H A A P I S T M A R O A G
Yesterday's answer: Picturesque
Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Becky C., Bonnie R., Michelle T., Irene R., Susan D., Lynne E., Karen W., Kimberly S., Elaine C., Craig W., David S., Don H., Craig E., Alan V., James B., Bill S., Diane P., Susan N.-Z., George S., Joel S., Suzanne S., Mike B., Kim C., and Mary Kay M.