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A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA


Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 24, 2022
Lethal force, 2020 vision, winding trail, UBI pivot, formula drop, Kane case, armadillo wave, and 🌷 a Spring bonus. Hello! It's Tuesday.
'APPEARANCE OF BIAS'
A Pennsylvania lawmaker is urging the legislature to make it easier for the state attorney general to investigate when police use deadly force by backing a bill meant to address the "appearance of bias" in such reviews.

State Sen. Art Haywood (D., Montgomery) introduced the legislation and is trying to drum up support as the bill remains before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, where it has sat since January, per Spotlight PA. 

The bill would require district attorneys to investigate the deaths of people killed by police without involving the officer's department.

If a district attorney were to decide not to prosecute an officer, they would be required to refer the case to Pennsylvania's attorney general.

Currently, the AG's office cannot launch an inquiry without the district attorney signing off on the move. Given the close relationship between police and a district attorney, experts say conflicts of interest are rampant.

THE CONTEXT: Haywood has cited investigations into recent police killings in advocating for the measure — among them the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Christian Hall by State Police in the Poconos in 2020.

Spotlight PA and NBC News obtained video that shows Hall had his hands in the air, a realistic-looking pellet gun in one, as troopers opened fire. Hall was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.

Troopers from outside the local barracks investigated the killing and turned the findings over to the Monroe County district attorney, who ultimately ruled it justified. Hall's parents publicly asked the Monroe County DA to send the case to the attorney general, but the DA did not do so.

The Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Commission, a panel convened by Gov. Tom Wolf to review the actions and policies of state-run police agencies, has recommended independent investigations of police killings in response to a 2016 shooting by State Police. The department defended its current process to the panel.

Haywood's bill has 10 Democratic co-sponsors but no Republican backers. On Monday, state Sen. Mike Regan (R., York), who chairs the committee where the bill has sat since January, said he was unaware of it.

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NOTABLE / QUOTABLE


"The premise we should have, I believe, as Republicans is that all Republican votes count, and that's something we've all, I think, held as a principle."

GOP U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick on a mail-ballot ruling that could benefit his campaign; McCormick is suing to make sure counties follow the decision; opponents are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court
 

📷 POST IT
A blue-eyed Mary on the Hepatica Trail at the Jennings Environmental Education Center in Butler County, via Kimberly D. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DAILY RUNDOWN
CONTRACT EXTENSION: Republican state lawmakers have extended their contested inquiry into the state's 2020 presidential election. The original contract with the firm chosen to head up the review, including an addendum, was worth $485,115 and expired last week. A six-month contract extension was signed and has no dollar figure attached to it, per the AP. The election review is currently tied up in court.

PRIMARY PATH: John Fetterman's path to victory in last week's Democratic U.S. Senate primary ran through some of the state’s reddest counties, where he grew his share of the electorate by as much as 68 percentage points from his last run for the office in 2016. The Post-Gazette examines the campaign's "every county, every vote" strategy and how it might translate (or not) in November's general election.

NO PILOT: New details show Pittsburgh's scrapping of a guaranteed income pilot program followed concerns about possible discrimination claims. The plan entailed giving 200 low-income households an extra $500 in monthly cash assistance for two years. But experts tell WESA that a provision requiring half of the payments go to households led by Black women could have invited constitutional challenges.

LOW SUPPLY: Nearly half of expected baby formula stock was missing from Pennsylvania shelves at the beginning of the month amid a nationwide shortage, Axios reports. President Joe Biden says the second Operation Fly Formula emergency airlift is headed here — the first touching down in Indiana on Sunday. According to WESA, the shortage has forced some low-income families into difficult dilemmas

DUI CASE: Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced to two months to a year in jail on Monday for a probation violation stemming from her DUI arrest in Scranton in March. Kane was given credit for time served and was due to be paroled directly to a residential treatment center for alcohol use in Chester County, the AP reports. A preliminary hearing in the DUI case is set for Thursday.
IN OTHER NEWS
LUNCH MONEY: Eligible families will begin to receive payment next month for meal costs they incurred during pandemic-related school closures, WESA reports. The Pandemic-EBT payments are set to start in mid-June.

ARMORED UP: Pennsylvania could be armadillo country in the not-so-distant future, experts tell the Chicago Tribune. The prehistoric-looking animals are moving north, with a range now extending from Argentina to Illinois. 

IN MEMORIAM: Harold Billow, a Mount Joy World War II veteran and the last known survivor of the Malmedy Massacre, one of the war's most infamous atrocities, died last week at the age of 99. LNP offers a remembrance.

LOGO CHECK: How does Pennsylvania's state logo stack up against the competition? This tweet gives an idea, though it's worth noting that Pennsylvania gave up the "State of Independence" slogan years ago.

NANOBREWED: The Dead Canary Brewing Company is a new nanobrewery that's coming to Philipsburg, per Centre Daily Times. What's a nanobrewery? It's an even smaller version of the more common microbrewery.
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.
 
T T I R G A L E C N

This week's theme: Onomatopoeia
 
Yesterday's answer: Kerplunk

Congrats to our daily winners: Mike B., Vicki U., Elaine C., Eddy Z., David S., Starr B., Craig W., Kevin M., Wendy A., Jill M., Doris T., Irene R., Bruce T., Michelle T., Don H., Kimberly D., Susan N.-Z., John W., Bette G., Kimberly S., Myles M., Hugh M., Suzanne O., Elvino M., Howard G., John F., Bruce B., Judith D., Martin C., Diane P., Ted W., Susan D., Jim M., Beth T., Nancy S., Jill A.-S., Ed M., Elizabeth W., Karen W., Daniel M., Johnny C., Moon M., Jude M., Julia P., Sandy S., Rob W., David W., James B., George S., Dianne K., Ruth M., Kim C., Bill S., Sharon P., and Alissa H.
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