A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA


Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 10, 2022
Out-of-state money, ballot business, election meddling, hospital strain, gun stance, recount request, and Pennsylvania leggings. It's Friday.
DISTANT DONORS

Megadonors and special interests have flooded Pennsylvania campaigns with millions of dollars in contributions in recent years.

State Rep. Meghan Schroeder (R., Bucks) wants to change that by advancing a resolution petitioning Congress to give state lawmakers more power to regulate the influx of outside cash in federal elections.

Spotlight PA reports Schroeder's push likely faces an uphill battle. It needs buy-in from a state legislature that has not made meaningful changes to its own campaign finance laws — some of the laxest in the country.

It would also eventually need two-thirds support in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for a related amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the most recent example of which took more than two centuries to be ratified. 

Thirty-eight states would then have to sign off on the amendment for it to be enacted. So far 22 states have passed resolutions, like Schroeder's, calling for more local control over outside spending on federal elections.

THE CONTEXT: American Promise, a national nonprofit backing Schroeder's effort, says hundreds of millions of dollars from out-of-state donors have poured into Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate races in recent years, making it more difficult and expensive to win an elected office than ever before.

The group expects intense out-of-state spending in this year's must-win U.S. Senate contest between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz. 

"Pennsylvania is not a playground for billionaires in the D.C. consulting class," said Bill Cortese, executive director of American Promise. "Pennsylvanians deserve to determine ... who they send to Washington."

Schroeder's resolution urges Congress to enact a "For Our Freedom" amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give state lawmakers the "authority to regulate [independent political spending] as they see fit in their respective jurisdictions," according to the memo.

The amendment would trump Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that, along with other high court rulings, allowed for the proliferation of super PACs — political action committees that can accept unlimited amounts of money from donors, unlike normal PACs.

According to nonprofit watchdog OpenSecrets, about 2,000 organized super PACs have reported nearly $1.1 billion in total spending nationwide already in the 2021-2022 election cycle, as of June 7.

NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"It sounds like a war zone the week of July 4th. We get a lot of complaints from pet owners, veterans, and parents of young kids."

State Rep. Frank Farry (R., Bucks) on concerns about Pennsylvania's loosened fireworks law, which lawmakers are taking steps to rein in
 
📅 UPCOMING EVENTS
» THE AD BLOCK: Join us Tuesday, June 14 at 6 p.m. ET, for a free Q&A on the uneven rules and flaws of the state's medical marijuana program. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
 
📷 POST IT
Do you know which Pennsylvania amusement park this photo was taken at? Click here for the answer. And thanks to @lora_explores for sharing. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
SCOTUS UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to block a lower court ruling that lets undated mail ballots be counted in Pennsylvania, per the AP. Justice Samuel Alito warned in a dissent that the issue could affect November's elections and urged his fellow justices to fast-track a decision on hearing a related appeal. GOP U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick fought to include undated ballots in his race but conceded with it clear they wouldn't sway the outcome.

REVERSAL ROLE: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) sought a pardon from then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, congressional investigators revealed in a televised primetime hearing on Thursday, via Politico. A Perry spokesperson called the claim "a ludicrous and soulless lie." Perry, who was instrumental in efforts to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss, has ignored a subpoena from the same investigators. Another televised hearing is set for Monday.

HOSPITAL CRUNCH: Some suburban Philadelphia hospitals are near 100% capacity, and COVID isn't why, WHYY reports. Instead, facilities in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties are feeling the ripple effects of hospital service shutdowns and closures. One scaled-back provider blamed low Medicaid reimbursements for the cuts, but WHYY found a parent company with a penchant for siphoning money.

GUN POLICY: The U.S. House this week passed a "red-flag" bill and others that would raise the age limit for purchasing semi-automatic rifles and prohibit the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 15 rounds, per NBC News. The bills are not expected to pass the U.S. Senate. In an opinion piece for WaPo, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) wrote about how Sandy Hook changed his gun law stance.

ON APPEAL: A single-precinct recount in May's Republican primary for state House Speaker Bryan Cutler's 100th legislative district seat found no change in the results. Now, a group of Republican voters that alleged fraud in the race without evidence is appealing a judge's ruling that granted the recount but denied their request that it be conducted by hand, LNP reports. The judge called the appeal "meritless."
IN OTHER NEWS

NEW LOOK: Introducing Pittsburgh Regional Transit, formerly known as the Port Authority of Allegheny County. The rebrand was announced Thursday with a fresh wrap and look for its buses, TribLIVE reports. 

FLAG LEGS: Speaking of new looks ... Pennsylvania flag leggings are being sold on a site called Zazzle for the not-so-low price of $72 a pair. They've also got Pittsburgh and Philadelphia covered, and this.

BOOK OF LIFE: The Marshall Project's Keri Blakinger, a Lancaster native, has a new memoir chronicling her path from Ivy League schools, heroin addiction, and prison to the newsroom. Here's an excerpt.

QUICK RESCUE: Two workers had to be rescued after falling into a chocolate tank at the Elizabethtown factory where M&Ms are made, WGAL reports. The condition of the workers was not immediately clear.

BEE CITY: Delaware County's Media Borough is officially a Bee City, meaning it will join towns, cities, and college campuses nationwide that are working to protect their populations of the vital pollinators, per WHYY.

THE SCRAMBLER
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.
 
A G E R C I T H L

This week's theme: English words with Greek origins
 
Yesterday's answer: Democracy 

Congrats to our daily winners: Mike B., Craig W., Irene R., Don H., Elaine C., Becky C., Janet C., Jill K., Diane P., Doris T., Kimberly B., Barbara F., Jodi R., Judith D., Brooke S., Deb N., Elizabeth W., Elizabeth W., Susan N.-Z., Kimberly S., Karen W., Nancy S., Jim A., James B., George S., John W., Johnny C., Susan D., Starr B., Eddy Z., Moon M., Bill S., Kim C., Dianne K., Ann E., Sharon P., Alan V., Randy T., Daniel M., Mary Jo J., and Cindy G.
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