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|Today: Ethics probe, SEPTA safety, hospital harms, alcohol alarms, Fern Hollow files, gun bills, shifting Philly, cafe closures, and a puppy pageant.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) is the subject of an ethics complaint that alleges he helped incite the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
State Sen. Art Haywood (D., Montgomery) filed the complaint, which is based on a report from a national watchdog organization. Mastriano called the complaint a stunt and denied any wrongdoing in the aftermath of the election.
A bipartisan committee of six state senators will decide what to do with the complaint.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: What’s next for the Jan. 6th ethics complaint against Doug Mastriano
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE
“This is the first time that the SEPTA job has become a revolving door. They hire people and they see there is no protection for them and they’re quitting. People are choosing life over death.”
—Brian Pollitt, president of TWU Local 234, on how the rise of violence against transit workers in Philadelphia is pushing SEPTA employees to resign.
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|RICHEST LITTLE CITY: Join us Thursday, Jan. 25 from 6-7:15 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel on the corruption case rocking this small Pennsylvania city and how local government can protect against wrongdoing. Register for the event here and submit your questions to email@example.com.
|GUN CONTROL: A committee of the Democratic-controlled Pennsylvania House advanced multiple gun control bills Wednesday, rare forward motion after years of standstill on the issue. The measures, one of which would ban sales of automatic and semi-automatic guns, await consideration by the full chamber, and face long odds in the GOP-led state Senate, the AP reports.
CARE CRISIS: As private equity investors acquire hospitals nationwide, including Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Pennsylvania, critics say the trend is shrinking access to quality health care. Stateline reports that hospitals purchased this way often see increased debt loads and slashes to staff and services to reduce costs. In response, Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering legislative approaches to protect hospitals, patients, and jobs.
COURT RULING: ALCOHOL DEATHS: Alcohol-related deaths are outpacing fatal drug overdoses in Pennsylvania, Axios reports. The commonwealth saw on average over 5,700 annual alcohol-related deaths between 2015-2019, while drug overdose deaths ranged from 3,119 to 5,425 annually during the same period. However, city and state policymakers have focused more on addressing the opioid crisis.
A federal appeals court ruled Pennsylvania laws banning 18-to- 20-year-olds from carrying firearms in public during a state of emergency are unconstitutional
, Reuters reports. The majority opinion found the words “the people” in the Second Amendment apply to all adults, striking down a statute that limited when certain people could carry firearms in public amid an emergency.
RECORDS ROW: Attorneys for victims of the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse have withdrawn long-awaited requests for records related to the incident, saying they’ve gotten the documents from sources outside the City of Pittsburgh government. The attorneys sought bridge inspection reports and internal communications among city engineers, private companies, and PennDOT, TribLIVE reports.
|🏆 FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS: Test your knowledge of the week in news with the latest Great PA News Quiz: Great PA News Quiz: Fetterman memoir, seriously cold, Bidenomics, and underfunded schools.
|DUE BALANCE: Citing $19 million in unpaid bills for items like construction projects, multiple Lackawanna County officials have serious concerns about the financial health of the municipality.
UNION COFFEE: After losing their jobs less than a day after unionizing, former Adda Coffee employees are asking their former boss for severance. The owner closed all four Pittsburgh locations last week, citing revenue loss.
CHANGING TIMES: BillyPenn details 75 years of changes in Philadelphia using job, demographic, and homeownership data.
‘PHILLY FLASH’: When this Pennsylvania police officer is off-duty, he flexes his pool skills under the moniker “Philly Flash.” Last year, he won the 2023 U.S. Artistic Pool Nationals.
PUPPY BOWL: While it’s unclear whether a Pennsylvania team will make it to the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh and metro Philadelphia have landed very cute contenders in the Puppy Bowl.
Are you a Berks County resident? We're seeking community input! Join one of our upcoming Spotlight PA - Berks County listening sessions:
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A listening session is an informal, small-group discussion in which we are seeking your thoughts, opinions, and concerns on local news coverage, information access, community information needs, and news consumption habits. Visit spotlightpa.org/berks for more information.
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