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|Gun control, 'alarm fatigue,' high usage, 'forever chemicals,' riot sentence, ban delayed, Senate return, and learning about deepfakes. Happy Friday.
People affected by gun violence, those in favor of stricter gun control laws, and Democratic lawmakers rallied at the Capitol on Thursday to demand action from the legislature.
"Pennsylvanians are reliving the same preventable tragedy again and again and again and again," said Eugene Reilly, a Reading surgeon whose hospital treated 100 gunshot victims last year, including a paralyzed grade school girl.
The March for Our Lives rally — the fifth since it was created following a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida — was followed by a hearing of the state House Judiciary Committee, which is under Democratic control for the first time in more than a decade.
“The legislature has stood by and watched death after death, shooing after shooting with no action,” Committee Chair Tim Briggs (D., Montgomery) said.
Read coverage of the rally and hearing from the AP, The Inquirer, and PennLive.
THE CONTEXT: Under Republican control, most gun control measures, including a "red flag" proposal, failed to advance in the legislature.
Now, Democrats hold the majority the state House, a shift that has given advocates hope that stricter gun control laws could make it to Gov. Josh Shapiro's desk.
Per PennLive, advocacy groups that attended the Thursday rally are seeking laws that would:
- Require gun owners to store weapons with a locking device.
- Require gun owners to report a lost or stolen weapon.
- Give judges the option to temporarily confiscate guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.
- Require background checks on all gun purchases.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
"We just need someone fresh."
—Kimberly Smith, a manager at Scranton's Glider Diner, speaks to Reuters for a piece on how President Joe Biden's hometown feels about a 2024 run
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|» UNEQUAL ELECTIONS: Join us and a panel of election experts on Thursday, March 30 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free discussion on unequal voting policies in the state, how they impact voters, and possible solutions. Register for the event here and submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|A spring day at Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust in Huntingdon Valley, via Rose J. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
|'ALARM FATIGUE': Staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Pocono took 14 minutes to respond to an alarm that signaled an issue with a patient's blood oxygen level, the Morning Call (paywall) reports. When staff responded, they found the patient had passed out and fallen on the floor. The patient died four days later.
HIGH USAGE: Pennsylvania's attorney general is asking for a 17% funding boost for Safe2Say, a 24/7 program that accepts tips about threats of violence and mental health issues from students statewide. PennLive (paywall) reports that AG Michelle Henry wants to hire two additional analysts for the tipline, which received 26,174 tips during the past school year.
'FOREVER CHEMICALS': A proposed EPA rule would require private and public drinking water systems to take steps to reduce the amount of PFAS, known as forever chemicals, which can harm human immune and endocrine systems. The Inquirer (paywall) looks at what suburban Philadelphia systems are already doing and what the potential cost may be for consumers.
RIOT SENTENCE: A 24-year-old Cumberland County woman has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for her role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. WITF reports that Riley Williams was accused of stealing a laptop belonging to U.S. House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Cali.), but that charge was dropped. Of the 968 people charged in relation to the insurrection, 73 are from Pennsylvania.
BAN DELAYED: Pittsburgh is delaying the implementation of its ban on single-use plastic bags from April to October, TribLIVE reports. The request came from the Gainey administration, according to a council member, to give the city more time to create resources for business owners. Pittsburgh was able to pass its own bag ban last year after the state legislature declined to renew a preemption on single-use plastics.
|🏆 TEST TIME: If you’re confident you followed the news closely this week, there’s only one way to prove it: Put your knowledge to the test with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz.
LOCAL QUESTIONS: Min Xian of Spotlight PA’s State College regional bureau wants to answer your questions about local governments.
RETURNING SOON: The office of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D., Pa.) said it expects him to return to the chamber "soon." Fetterman is being treated for clinical depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
DEEP FAKES: Ethan Mollick, a business professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, talked to NPR about how he's teaching his students about the power and dangers of new, cheap AI tools.
INVASIVE SPECIES: A new state survey of invasive plants, insects, and animals found far-reaching damage, per Bay Journal.
FENNEL WINE: A Solebury farm plans to ramp up production of aperitivo, a fennel-infused wine. Their recipe also includes radicchio and herbs.
Unscramble and send your answer to email@example.com. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted
Y S U L O E E P X D I I T
Wednesday's answer: Spurious
Yesterday's answer: Grandiloquent
Congrats to our daily winners: Sherri A., Jane R., Robin W., Kevin M., David W., James B., Dianne K., Dennis M., Stanley J., Kim C., William Z., Janet C., Beth T., Daniel S., Diane B., Elaine C., Bill S., Starr B., Dana C., Jon W., Susan Z., Tracy S., Kimberly D., Susan D., Barbara F., John H., Daniel A., Sarah B., John F., and Craig W.