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—Colin, PA Post Editor

A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
March 22, 2022
Guv check, money watch, parental concerns, 'broken' law, SNAP demand, DUI probe, and Tom Hanks crashes a bridal party. It's Tuesday. 
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BAN BACKERS
Most candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania are now on record supporting a ban on gifts to lawmakers from lobbyists and other groups. 

City & State reports a survey by MarchOnHarrisburg, a group that has long pushed for such a ban, found 10 of 16 hopefuls saying they would support a ban on gifts in some form. MarchOnHarrisburg calls that promising.

The other six candidates failed to answer. This includes Senate President Jake Corman (R., Centre), the chamber's top Republican and a frequent target of groups, like March on Harrisburg, around this very issue. 

A longtime holdout, Corman said late last year that if he is elected governor, he will support legislation reforming the state's gift laws, which remain some of the weakest in the country. Activists said: "Why wait?"

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania is one of eight states that does not have a complete or partial ban on legislators and other public officials and employees receiving gifts from lobbyists and advocates with a stake in government.

Lawmakers and other public officials in the state can accept any gift they want, as long as they disclose it in annual statements of financial interest that must be filed every year with the State Ethics Commission.

Even then, they only need to disclose gifts worth $250 or more, and transportation and hospitality worth $650 or more.

Activists have pushed for a ban for decades, to no avail. With bipartisan support for the idea growing, they're keeping the pressure on.
THE FINAL DAYS
TIME IS RUNNING OUT: We have just a few days left to hit our goal of raising $25,000 and unlocking a HUGE $25,000 matching gift from The Benter Foundation in Pittsburgh. Make a gift and help put us over the top now.

If you're a fan of PA Post and have made it part of your daily routine, pay it forward and support Spotlight PA's vital journalism today.
NOTABLE / QUOTABLE

"[P]rimary voters don't yet see Fetterman as the liberal he is ... For Conor Lamb to have a path in the primary, this dynamic needs to change."

—A memo circulated by a pro-Conor Lamb group indicating there is mudslinging to come in Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate primary
📷 POST IT
Clouds over Harrisburg as seen by PA Poster Robert N. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
HOUSE MONEY: While Pennsylvania's Senate started posting member expenses online last year, following Spotlight PA and The Caucus reporting, the state House still hasn't. As a result, The Caucus reports, eyebrow-raising, taxpayer-funded purchases continue to go unnoticed. House Speaker Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) said House rules need to be changed first, but there's no such proposal pending. 

VAX DISPUTES: Courts across Pennsylvania are stepping in when divorced parents disagree on vaccinating their children against COVID-19. WHYY reports Pennsylvania requires decisions about a child's health be made jointly by parents with shared legal custody, leading those disputes into family court. Family law attorney Hillary Moonay confirmed the cases feel more high-stakes and intense than others.

CHARTER RULES: A regulatory panel has given the greenlight to stronger charter school regulations proposed by the Wolf administration in an effort to shore up Pennsylvania's "broken" charter school law. The changes cover performance standards, transparency, ethics, and more. Capital-Star reports a challenge of the panel's decision by the Republican-led state legislature is still a possibility.

HIGH DEMAND: The number of Pennsylvanians enrolling in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, is approaching the record-setting numbers seen during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, WESA reports. Among the possible reasons for the uptick: rising food prices, eased paperwork burdens, and the end of monthly Child Tax Credit payments. 

I-95 CRASH: A DUI investigation is underway after two Pennsylvania state troopers and a man they were trying to take into custody were fatally struck by a speeding car on I-95 in Philadelphia Monday. Officials said the driver remained at the scene as witnesses tried to revive the troopers — Martin F. Mack III and Branden T. Sisca — and the unidentified pedestrian. The driver's name was not immediately released.
IN OTHER NEWS
THE SEEKERS: The disappearance of James Amabile in Delaware County remained unsolved for nearly 20 years. Then, The Inquirer reports, a YouTube search-and-rescue team got involved and solved the case in hours.

CHECKPOINTS: Some welfare checks on Pitt students are being carried out by campus police and mental health professionals. Advocates tell PublicSource it's progress, but they want the clinicians to be empowered.

PHOTOBOMBED: When actor Tom Hanks (of Dead Eyes podcast fame) interrupted Grace Gwaltney's bridal party in Downtown Pittsburgh on Saturday to ask for a photo, Gwaltney tells WTAE they reluctantly agreed.

FLOOD RELIEF: Starting April 1, homeowners in Pennsylvania will be able to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to either rebuild or sell homes that have been flooded multiple times, CNN reports.

MARKS THE SPOT: A historical marker recognizing 1967's Black student-led walkouts in Philadelphia has been erected at 21st and Winter streets. The nod was inspired by a 10th grader's research project, KYW reports.
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.
 
I A C A R G I C N L T T E

*This week's theme: Outer space
 
Yesterday's answer: Supermassive

Congrats to our daily winners: Ted W., Craig W., Barbara F., Bonnie R., Theresa T., Susan D., Anne G., Keith F., Michelle T., Marisa B., Susan N.-Z., Kyle C., Kimberly S., Elizabeth W., Elaine C., George S., Don H., Johnny C., James B., Bill S., Ben C., Pat D., John A., David W., Sandy B., Jude M., Michael K., Scott R., and Pat B.
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