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|Legal setback, sports science, doubling down, repair money, PILOT plans, impeachment push, and Pa.'s secret state fair. It's Tuesday.|
|A Democrat-led effort to force a vote on bills that would tighten Pennsylvania gun rules in the wake of multiple mass shootings, including one in Philadelphia, was dealt a setback on Monday.|
The state House Judiciary Committee chaired by state Rep. Rob Kauffman (R., Franklin) punted four bills, including a proposed ban on assault weapons, to the chamber's Local Government Committee, per Spotlight PA.
The move brings them no closer to becoming law and delays the Democrats' chosen course of action, at least temporarily.
Monday's motion passed in bipartisan fashion, with Democratic supporters of the legislation saying they may still have some options to force a vote — although they did not provide specifics. For the most part, they expressed frustration at yet another obstacle to enacting stricter gun laws.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf called the motion "shameful."
THE CONTEXT: Tired of inaction, House Democrats in Harrisburg gave notice last Tuesday that they would use a procedural maneuver called a discharge resolution to bring the bills up for a floor vote.
They promised to do so as soon as that Thursday, but before they could, House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) canceled the Thursday session. His spokesperson said the move was intended to allow more time for negotiations on the budget, which must be finished by June 30.
Lawmakers can only file a discharge resolution after a bill has been in committee for 15 session days, meaning Monday's moving of the bills to another committee resets the clock and stalls the push.
The panel's Republicans argued for pumping the brakes, citing ongoing court cases and federal negotiations on gun laws in D.C.
Before Monday's action, all four bills had lingered in the state House Judiciary Committee for between 10 and 16 months.
In the state Senate, Democrats filed discharge motions on six bills, including one that would institute universal background checks, earlier this month. One motion advanced by Democrats there — on a bill to create an extreme risk protection law — was defeated along party lines late Monday.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"Not only was there not evidence of 8,000 dead voters voting in Pennsylvania. There wasn't evidence of 8."
—Ex-Philadelphia Commissioner Al Schmidt testifying before Congress' J6 committee on Monday; find full coverage of the televised hearing here
|» THE AD BLOCK: Join us at 6 p.m. ET today 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 email@example.com.|
|PA Poster Don H. took this photo on a soggy spring hike in Jefferson County's Clear Creek State Park. Have a cool image of your own to share? Send us your gems, use #PAGems on IG, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.|
|'ANTI-EVIDENCE': Pennsylvania legislation that would ban transgender student-athletes from participating on teams corresponding with their gender leans on shoddy science and discriminatory ideas, experts who study the performance of transgender athletes tell Spotlight PA. While term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed a veto, the GOP nominee for his seat co-sponsored the legislation.|
CAMPAIGN PICK: Pennsylvania Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano has appointed a former campaign lawyer to Donald Trump, Jenna Ellis, as a senior legal adviser to his campaign. Both promoted false allegations of voter fraud in a bid to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss. The AP says the pick signals Mastriano has little interest in moderating his style, something Democrats are counting on.
WHOLE HOMES: Legislation that would offer property repair grants of up to $50,000 to homeowners and repair loans of up to $50,000 per unit to small landlords is gaining support in Harrisburg, per the Post-Gazette. Supporters of the Whole Home Repairs program bill say it would "stop the cycle of blight, displacement, and abandonment." Spotlight PA reports it's among the ideas gaining bipartisan budget traction.
HOSPITAL BILLS: As Pittsburgh officials look for new ways to capitalize on the tax-exempt hospital giants that operate in the city, a dilemma that has long vexed local leaders there, PublicSource reports that Erie has seen tremendous success with a Payments in Lieu of Taxes (or PILOT) arrangement 100 miles to the north. But there are key differences between the cities and the power of the health systems involved.
PARTISAN PUSH: Several rural Pennsylvania House Republicans say they're starting the process to impeach Larry Krasner, the Philadelphia district attorney who was re-elected by a wide margin in November, KYW Newsradio reports. The lawmakers say it's because of last week's mass shooting on South Street. Krasner says it's an attempt by his opponents to overturn an election "they can't win."
MISSING LINKS: A pair of north central Pennsylvania treasure hunters is accusing the FBI of a coverup related to its dig for a lost trove of fabled Civil War gold in Elk County, saying video of the reportedly fruitless excavation, which the pair helped locate, is suspiciously missing, per the AP.
LAST DAYS: The Atlantic offers a new look at the last days of freedom for Daniel Muessig, a Pittsburgh defense attorney now serving a five-year federal prison sentence for large-scale marijuana trafficking. Muessig also wrote a first-person piece about the countdown for City Paper.
ROAD-CAST: The latest episode of the "Still Processing" podcast from New York Times critic Wesley Morris examines the impact of Philadelphia's Vine Street Expressway, a highway Morris walked across as a kid without knowing "how deeply it had transformed" the neighborhood it bisected.
SALE START: Pennsylvania will start looking for a new buyer for Pittsburgh's shuttered state prison building, the Post-Gazette reports. Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill that authorizes the state to begin soliciting offers, the move coming five years after a proposed sale of the property fell through.
FAIR FIND: Somehow Pennsylvania, land of "America's First Fair," is one of just a handful of states without a state fair to call its own. Or is it? In the latest edition of our PA Local newsletter, state officials tell us that Pennsylvania actually does have a state fair and has for 106 years. Surprise!
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
L I N E O T O P A C RYesterday's answer: Decaffeinated
This week's theme: Coffee
Congrats to our daily winners: Susan N.-Z., Becky C., Craig W., Irene R., Mark O., Elaine C., Brandie K., Michelle T., Vicki U., Patricia M., Tara M., Barbara F., Kate P., Joel S., John A., John W., John A., Susan D., Ted W., Mike B., Mary D., Judith D., Myles M., Starr B., Gina L., Steve D., Moon M., Daniel M., Sue T., Elizabeth W., George S., Jodi R., Dan W., Suzanne O., Al M., Scott R., Kimberly S., James N., Dianne K., Fred O., James B., Tish M., Eddy Z., Marisa B., Theresa T., John P., Carol D., Bill S., Sharon P., Don H., Diane P., Bruce B., Ronnee G., Kevin M., Janet C., Kim C., Doris T., Beth T., Ed M., Mark C., Deborah S., Jill M., Kimberly B., Jim A., David W., Sandy S., Kimberly D., Fred H., Jill A.-S., Marty M., Art W., Johnny C., Nancy S., Mary Jo J., Eugene M., Jude M., Linda F., Jane W., Leisha J., and Karen W.