Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Your guide to Pa.'s redistricting court challenges

Plus, Pa. pensions scrutinize their Russian holdings.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
March 3, 2022
Spotlight PA's vital work depends on your support. Make a tax-deductible contribution today and you can help power trusted, nonpartisan public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and preserves our democracy. Thanks! —Colin, PA Post editor
Redistricting docket, divestment plan, helpless feeling, moved out, word choice, and a bug theft gets the true-crime treatment. It's Thursday.
Want to see your message here? Contact us about sponsoring PA Post.

New political maps have been chosen for Pennsylvania, but the redistricting process continues with legal challenges filed against all three selections. 

With the May primary fast approaching, Spotlight PA will host a free Q&A on the potential impacts of the court challenges at 5 tonight. RSVP here.

But first, some background.

THE CONTEXT: Pennsylvania's congressional map was chosen by the state's Supreme Court after Gov. Tom Wolf and lawmakers failed to reach a deal.  

Unhappy with the high court's choice, a group of Pennsylvanians, including two Republicans running for office, has brought a challenge in federal court, arguing the Pennsylvania justices had no right to pick a new map.

A federal judge in Harrisburg recently denied their request for a temporary restraining order against the map. In response, the petitioners are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider that decision.

On the state legislative side, challenges of the state House and state Senate maps that were drawn and adopted by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission can be made directly to the state Supreme Court.

So far, four separate parties have done so.  

After March 7, the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, a bipartisan panel, will have a few days to respond to the suits. After the briefs are filed, the court can choose whether it wants to consider the challenges.


"Hatred leads to violence. ... This is why we're here today because we need to stop Colcom's funding of hate speech."

—Andy Kang of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition on Pittsburgh's Colcom Foundation funding anti-immigrant groups
» MOOT POINTS: A court has dismissed as moot two lawsuits against policies that made masks optional at two Western Pennsylvania school districts, citing last week's softening of CDC guidance in the ruling. 

» CLOSING COVERAGE: Thousands of Pennsylvanians could lose Medicaid coverage when the federal COVID-19 emergency declaration ends. State officials say they're working to minimize related impacts.

» RULE LIFTED: Philly has dropped its indoor mask mandate, effective immediately. Masks will still be required in schools, health-care institutions, government buildings, on public transit, and in businesses that require them.

» NEW PLAN: The White House has a new long-term plan for battling COVID-19, one with a greater emphasis on antiviral pills, like Paxlovid, that pharmacists could issue for free as soon as people test positive.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» THE FINAL STRETCH: Join us at 5 p.m. ET today via Zoom for a free Q&A on the court challenges to Pa.'s electoral maps and how they could affect your community. Register here. Send questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
A high-contrast, low-temperature shot, courtesy of @noraodendahlSend us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
PENSION PULL: Pennsylvania's Public School Employees' Retirement System will meet today to discuss what to do with some $300 million it has directly invested in Russian and Belarus holdings as public pensions nationwide reevaluate their portfolios amid the invasion of Ukraine. PennLive reports the State Employees' Retirement System sold $9.6 million in Russian bonds last year. Related discussions continue. 

WORRIED SICK: Iryna Haak of Fox Chapel is glued to her television and phone as her mother makes molotov cocktails to repel the Russian invasion 5,000 miles away. "I'm hysterical right now," Haak told PublicSource. Similar stories can be found across the Ukrainian diaspora. In Scranton, Rev. Myron Myronyuk waits for word from loved ones saying, "We have to pray ... there's not much else we can do."

UPROOTED: A Montgomery County property deal will see about two dozen people with serious mental illness moved from their home and support services on the campus of the Norristown State Hospital, WITF reports. The state is giving the land to Norristown Borough and says it's working to find new programs for displaced residents, but a serious shortage exists. A homeless shelter will also be impacted by the deal.

CASH CLAUSE: For two years, Allentown's Morning Call newspaper has worked to obtain information on how much tax money is being generated in the city's unique Neighborhood Improvement Zone. But Lehigh County Republican Sen. Pat Browne, who drafted the NIZ law, shut the door on that effort with a handful of words tucked deep inside a 114-page fiscal code bill. The information is now exempt from disclosure laws.

NIMBY NEWS: Residential pushback against a medical marijuana shop in Delaware County has led to an about-face by Yeadon Borough officials, who decided the store isn't allowed to be where it is three days after it opened its doors. WHYY reports the shop has 30 days to appeal the Zoning Hearing Board's decision. The owners say they're open for business in the meantime and considering legal options. 

ONE-ON-ONE: In challenging Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman to a one-on-one debate, GOP candidate Mehmet Oz cites Fetterman's support for a "fracking moratorium" as an example of the policy gulf between them. Here's what Fetterman has actually said on the topic.

IMITATING LIFE: Several Philadelphia educators watching ABC's hit Philly-set series Abbott Elementary noticed the show's book-lined schools look nothing like theirs. Billy Penn reports some hope the show will raise awareness by better reflecting Philly's paltry librarian-to-school ratio in Season Two.

ROAD WORK: A contested redesign of South Philly's Washington Avenue thoroughfare has yielded an updated plan with a "mixed road diet" consisting of protected bike lanes, new traffic-calming measures, and more.

STRIKE CALL: Unionized Allegheny County 911 dispatchers protesting long shifts and low pay have authorized a one-day strike to coincide with Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day parade. Contract negotiations continue.

'BUG OUT': A new, four-part true-crime series tackles the theft of $50,000 worth of bugs from Philadelphia’s Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion in 2018. The list of suspects is long and the finger-pointing prodigious

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.

*This week's theme: Movies that were set or filmed in Pennsylvania

Yesterday's answer: Flashdance (was filmed in and around Pittsburgh)

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Briann M., Kevin M., Bonnie R., Doris T., Tracy K., Wendy A., Irene R., Mike B., Jodi R., Judith D., Barbara F., Don H., Patricia M., Susan N.-Z., Dan W., Pat B., Elizabeth W., Jeri D., Patricia R., Susan R., Lex M., Elvino M., Marisa B., Kyle C., Kimberly S., Georgann J., Elaine C., Chris M., James B., Gina L., Tim W., Marty M., Fred O., Kim C., Joel S., Dianne K., Russellen C., Bill S., Daniel M., Edward G., Karen W., Ted W., Suzanne S., Jude M., Vicki U., Ann E., Kevin H., Johnny C., Karen M., Tish M., Perry H., Craig W., Margaret D., John H., Gail N., David W., John P., and John A.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, a daily newsletter by Spotlight PA.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.