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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 27, 2022
Roe fallout, bipartisan breakthrough, budget blockers, Perry's pardon, 'dangerous' game, and a Wizard of Oz wedding. It's Monday.
NEW REALITY

Abortion remains legal in Pennsylvania up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy, and in some cases beyond that, after last week's landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and 50 years of legal precedent.

Roughly 15% of Pennsylvania counties had an abortion clinic in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights, and providers in places like Pittsburgh are expecting an influx of patients from states where new restrictions are suddenly taking effect.

States now have the power to determine how, where, and why someone can get a legal abortion, if at all, and while Republican legislators in Pennsylvania are pushing for tougher rules, term-limited Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto any efforts to further curtail access here.

But November's election could change that dynamic, per Spotlight PA, if Republicans keep control of the General Assembly and the GOP nominee for governor, who supports stringent abortion restrictions, also wins.

THE CONTEXT: The Republican nominee, Doug Mastriano, has said he would sign a bill banning abortion at six weeks with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the pregnant person. His Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, supports maintaining access to abortion.

There are several proposals pending in the legislature, including a veto-proof state constitutional amendment that abortion rights advocates say could open the door to new restrictions — and not just on abortion. (Track the SB956 amendment here with Spotlight PA's tracker tool.)

Franklin & Marshall polling from May shows 85% of Pennsylvania registered voters support abortion being either completely legal or legal under some circumstances, which were not defined in the poll.

In a national political environment widely seen as favorable to GOP candidates, the extent to which that support, coupled with the Roe decision, will influence Pennsylvania's electorate remains to be seen.

Alongside statewide races for governor and U.S. Senate on the ballot are contests that will decide control of the General Assembly under Pennsylvania's newly redistricted maps. While the new maps still favor Republicans overall, some Democrats see an opening in the state House, especially as abortion access becomes an increasingly potent campaign issue. 

NOTABLE / QUOTABLE


"You know I'm getting married? Are you sure? She said, 'Yes, you have to cancel the wedding.'"

Michael Martin who is suing UPMC Community Medicine and others over a misread COVID-19 test that led to the cancellation of his wedding
 

📷 POST IT
Greetings from @lora_explores at Up the Crick in Jersey Shore. Send us your pics, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
GUN LAW: The first major federal gun legislation in decades has been signed into law by President Joe Biden after breakneck votes in Congress. The law closes the "boyfriend loophole," expands background checks, and includes $750 million to support state-level red flag laws. The GOP chair of a key legislative committee in Pennsylvania previously vowed to block red flag proposals here, per Capital-Star.

LAST MILE: The June 30 deadline for a budget deal is days away and the AP reports the negotiations in Harrisburg could come down to school aid. Gov. Tom Wolf wants "generational investments," including $1.8 billion more for public schools, citing a multibillion-dollar state surplus. GOP leaders, citing a potential looming fiscal cliff, back more school spending but only one-third to one-half of what Wolf wants.

PARDON PUSH: Cassidy Hutchinson, an ex-aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told congressional J6 investigators that U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) approached her about a presidential pardon on the heels of the U.S. Capitol attack, contradicting his denials, via WITF. The committee's hearings have also detailed Perry's extensive efforts to overturn the 2020 election by installing pro-Trump DOJ officials.

GENERAL TERMS: Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro has taken heat from his own party over ongoing efforts to boost the profile of his GOP rival, Doug Mastriano, in hopes that Mastriano's far-right record will turn off voters. It's a strategy that's being picked up by Democrats in other states, and one a longtime strategist called "dangerous," per the CBC, given what voters consider too toxic is very much in flux.

REBOUND FEE: Collections of impact fees that Pennsylvania gas drillers pay on new wells rebounded in 2021 from a pandemic low and are on track to grow further in 2022. The fees, which are guided by natural gas prices, hit $234.4 million in 2021, up from the record low of $146.3 million in 2020. The Post-Gazette reports the collections could hit a new high this year — and the industry's effective tax rate a new low.
IN OTHER NEWS

LAST CALL: The Six County Firemen's Association, which started in Hazleton 118 years ago, held its last convention over the weekend. The organization is disbanding due to a lack of volunteers, a dearth that has been plaguing fire companies across Pennsylvania, via City Paper.

HOME FRONT: Worried that their U.S. military ties jeopardized their safety after Afghanistan was returned to Taliban control, the Shinwari family fled to the U.S. and resettled in Pittsburgh, but WESA reports their newfound sense of safety has come with "profound economic insecurity."

ENCRYPTED: LNP found 10 Lancaster County elected officials signed up for encrypted messaging apps that officials in other states have used to skirt open records rules. It's not clear that would work here: Under Pennsylvania's open records law, public business is fair game in any forum. 

REDDIT ROUNDS: The r/Pennsylvania subreddit found the following over the weekend: a storm trooper at the Scranton Trolley Museum, the beauty in a tree canopy on the Wissahickon Trail, and a peahen in a yard in Berks County, which I now know are used as farm alarms.

BIG DAY: The Wizard of Oz-themed wedding of Mr. and Mr. Liquorice, officiated by Deepak Chopra at Fayette County's Nemacolin Resort, almost has to be seen to be believed. Luckily, Vogue has the photos.

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.
 
O O C D B N G I O N K

This week's theme: The Great Outdoors
 
Friday's answer: Uniformity

Congrats to our weekly winner: Hugh M.

Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Don H., John P., Becky C., Vicki U., Jodi R., Beth T., Elaine C., Susan N.-Z., George S., Doris T., Lynne E., Susan D., James B., Eddy Z., Bill S., Elizabeth W., Dianne K., David W., and Kim C.
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