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Red-flag resistance, Mastriano's Facebook cleanse, and how a bill becomes law by default

Plus, Pa. psychiatric hospital called '21st century asylum.'

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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
July 19, 2022
Red-flag resistance, cleanup bill, social scrub, 'asylum' story, homeowner help, trial time, and wedding star Joel Embiid. It's Tuesday. Welcome.
A bipartisan gun deal signed into law last month by President Joe Biden provides $750 million to support states that want to implement a red-flag law.

But despite the financial incentive, the Washington Post found that such bills have failed to go anywhere in states with Republican-controlled legislatures, like Pennsylvania.

The Post spoke to state Rep. Todd Stephens, a Montgomery County Republican who has been pushing a bill that would allow Pennsylvania courts to temporarily confiscate a person's guns if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others. 

"It took children dying in Florida and a police officer dying in Indiana before they passed their [red-flag] laws," he told the paper. "I pray to God that is not what it will take for us to act in Pennsylvania."

THE CONTEXT: Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have adopted legislation similar to Stephens' bill to create extreme risk protection orders. Research has shown these laws reduce gun deaths.

Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania state House and Senate have not been willing to call up such legislation for a vote or have blocked Democrats from doing so.

The Post said its "review of legislative battles ... suggests that the bills were defeated through campaigns organized by local and national gun rights groups, including the NRA."

"It really is inconsistent with concepts of academic freedom and intellectual curiosity to use a technology that can track students everywhere they go."

—Chad Marlow of the ACLU on a draft policy that would have allowed Carnegie Mellon University police to use facial recognition technology during investigations; the school says it's no longer considering the option
Capitol flowers, courtesy of @yatskoSend us your Pennsylvania photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
CLEAN BILL: A Pennsylvania bill that jeopardizes millions of dollars in federal funding for abandoned oil and gas well cleanups is on the verge of becoming law by virtue of Gov. Tom Wolf doing nothing, Capital & Main reports. The outlet says bills that sit idle before a governor for 10 days become law by default. Wolf had taken no action on this bill at the 10-day mark on Monday, reportedly in return for GOP budget support.

CONTROL DELETE: GOP nominee for governor Doug Mastriano has deleted 14 videos from his Facebook page in recent months, the posts covering unfounded claims of widespread Democratic voter fraud; accusations that his critics secretly "disdain veterans"; and another lauding the fight against abortion. The Inquirer reports the deletions come amid slow fundraising and pushback from his party.

OPEN 'ASYLUM': Vice News reporting on the Meadows Psychiatric Center in Centre Hall included interviews with dozens of current and former workers who described a facility "rife with violence directed at both workers and other patients, in poor condition, and providing less than the bare minimum of resources..." One former employee, a mental health technician, likened it to a "21st century asylum."

HOUSE MONEY: There's a problem with the federal government's Weatherization Assistance Program for low-income households: Many homeowners who qualify based on their incomes are turned away or deferred because their homes require repairs before energy efficiency improvements can be made. Grist explains how Pennsylvania's new Whole Home Repairs Program is working to fill the gaps.

TRIAL DATE: The trial of Todd Robinson is set to begin in Allegheny County today after copious delays. Robinson was shot by Wilkinsburg police in 2017 after parking in an alleyway and receiving a ticket. There are conflicting descriptions of what prompted the gunfire, but Robinson has remained in jail awaiting trial on related charges ever since, the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism reports. 
TURNPIKE TOLLS: WNEP reports that the amount of uncollected Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls jumped nearly 48% to $155 million in the past year, but the agency says it's not particularly concerned. 

LOST AND FOUND: If by chance anyone out there reading knows who this pendant belongs to, let @VanessaRiley know. It was found in the sand on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on the morning of Sunday, July 17.

CHASING WATERFALLS: I've never been to the Seven Tubs Nature Area in Wilkes-Barre, but this Reddit video makes me want to go.

DANCE, DANCE: Let this video of Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid dancing the Hora at a wedding be your Tuesday morning motivation.

QUICK LINKS: The ketchup is coming down at the stadium formerly known as Heinz Field; Claes Oldenburg, the creator of Philly's famed clothespin sculpture, has died; and bigger baseball scoreboards for all.
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