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Shapiro burned, rebuilt bridges in 1st year as guv

Plus, Scott Perry could play role in Trump GA election trial.

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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: Tanisha Thomas

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
In today's edition: Shapiro review, Perry listed, keeping PACE, jail death, in passing, winning walkability, e-vehicle charge, and eyes on Hamlin.

In his first year as Pennsylvania governor, Josh Shapiro quickly rebuilt a collapsed bridge, approved a state spending plan that included long-sought Democratic priorities, and helped expand a homeowner relief program.

As a tough 2024 looms, Spotlight PA looks back on Shapiro’s accomplishments and challenges during his inaugural year. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Gov. Josh Shapiro rebuilt a bridge, weathered a messy budget, and walked fine partisan lines in 2023

THE CONTEXT: After being sworn in as Pennsylvania's 48th governor, Shapiro, who has a reputation as a dealmaker, said his election was a rebuke of extremism and an embrace of bipartisanship. He vowed to grow the economy, and decrease gun violence, among other promises. 

Those goals and more were challenged as he struggled to advance his priorities through the polarized state legislature. Additionally, events outside of his control, like the East Palestine trail derailment, and a major court ruling on education funding, also complicated his first months in office.

He also faced criticism over his office’s handling of internal sexual harassment claims and made a major miscalculation while negotiating the state budget, which remains undone.
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“It’s still a little too early to give a specific forecast about this Christmas. It’s not to say that it can’t happen this year. I wouldn’t wave the white flag yet. But statistically, it’s not a common thing.”

AccuWeather meteorologist Bob Larson on whether Pennsylvania will be blanketed with snow on Christmas.
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Thank you to the 1,120 people who have given so far during our year-end drive, including Patrick S., who said, "You are honest brokers and good at what you do."

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You can also give via PayPal or Venmo, or send a check to: Spotlight PA, PO Box 11728, Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728.
» BOILO BASICS: Join us Thursday, Dec. 14 from 6-7:15 p.m. on Zoom for a free Q&A and demo on one of Pennsylvania's signature adult beverages, boilo. As a bonus, try your hand at some Pennsylvania wintertime trivia in the last half hour for a chance to win Spotlight PA swag. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.

The Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, via Joan S. Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

bare tree decoated with a white and reddish light in the night time
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION TRIAL: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) is listed as a potential witness in the Georgia election trial against former President Donald Trump and his co-defendants, the York Daily Record reports. Perry was a part of the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Last summer, the FBI seized his cell phone as part of an investigation.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.CLEAN MONEY: Federal tax dollars meant to encourage clean energy projects in low-income and energy-producing areas in Pennsylvania are working, but it will take time for communities to see those results, StateImpact reports. A recent study from Rhodium Group and MIT showed Pennsylvania clean energy projects received a large amount of federal funding, though many are still in the planning phase.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
DEATH SETTLEMENT: Dauphin County will pay a $4.25 million settlement for a 2021 jail death that stemmed from a person going into cardiac arrest while in a restraint chair, PennLive reports. Ishmail Thompson’s death was ruled a “medical event” after he died, but Thompson told guards he couldn’t breathe after they put a mesh hoodie over him and improperly restrained him in a chair. 
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.AI CAMPAIGN: Democratic congressional candidate Shamaine Daniels pushed out the first interactive artificial intelligence political phone campaign last weekend, Politico reports. The robotic volunteer, named Ashley, answers questions about Daniels, her policies, and her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry. Daniels supports using AI to guide “where the conversation goes” with the technology in politics. 

PACE BILL:Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania state representatives unanimously approved a bill that would prevent thousands of older adults from losing access to low-cost prescriptions, the Tribune-Democrat reports. The bill would extend eligibility for nearly 20,000 people enrolled in PACE or PACENET. The measure now awaits the governor’s signature. 
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
NEWS OBIT: Longtime Erie news reporter Emily Matson has died at 42 years old, Deadline reports. Matson worked for Erie News Now for 17 years before her death. 

DRIVING FEE: Driving an electric vehicle may come with a cost in Pennsylvania. The state House Transportation Committee approved a state Senate bill that would annually charge drivers $290 starting next year. 

PARK EQUITY: Pittsburgh is one of seven cities chosen to be part of a national program that expands access to parks. The program aims to make parks no more than a 10-minute walk away from all residents.

TOP TEACHER: Mifflin County’s Ashlie Crosson was named Pennsylvania’s teacher of the year by the state education department. Crosson teaches 10th grade English, AP Language, and journalism at a Lewistown high school. 

MOST SEARCHED: Pittsburgh native and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was the most Googled person and athlete in 2023. He suffered a cardiac arrest from an in-game tackle in January. 
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. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Anthemic

Congrats to our daily winners: 
Richard A., Don H., Jon W, Susan N., Bob C., Tracy S., Rob K., Barbara F., Beth T., Kimberly D., Stacy S., Kim C., Vicki U., Elaine C., Rick W., Alan B., Wendy A., William Z., John P., Jeffrey F., Stanley J., Karen W., Dan A., and Daniel M. 
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