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Where Pa. political candidates stand on gun reform

Plus, Rep. Perry a no-show for Jan. 6 deposition.

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A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
May 27, 2022
Policy plans, Perry refuses, fentanyl finders, recount request, cannabis charges, renaissance money, bear safe, and 🌷 time is running out. It's Friday.
🇺🇸 PROGRAMMING NOTE: We're off for the Memorial Day holiday on Monday but we'll be back in your inboxes first thing Tuesday. 
Politicians and candidates in November's general election are reacting to Tuesday's school shooting in Uvalde, Texas — the deadliest since Sandy Hook — and outlining often divergent policy plans for safer classrooms.

Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro wants easier access to mental health services for students, a closed ghost gun loophole, universal background checks, and a red flag law.

The GOP nominee, Doug Mastriano, tweeted on Wednesday that he wants more state funding for guidance counselors, new trainings to identify warning signs, armed teachers, and more cops in schools.

As a state senator, Mastriano has supported pro-gun measures, including one allowing concealed carrying without a permit and another making it easier to sue municipalities for adopting tougher local gun measures.

Outgoing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf is urging lawmakers to pass legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales and to create a red flag law that would allow a court to temporarily bar someone from possessing firearms if they are believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

KDKA-TV reports it is unlikely that the Republican-controlled General Assembly will budge. On Wednesday, House Democrats attempted to advance a bill that would ban assault weapons here, but that effort failed.

FEDERAL LAWS: Outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) reiterated his support for universal background checks on "all commercial sales of firearms" following Tuesday's violence in Texas.

The New York Times labels him "open or undecided" on a pair of House-backed bills that would strengthen background checks nationwide.

In the race to replace Toomey, Democratic nominee John Fetterman says he supports universal background checks for all gun sales, as well as a ban on "military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity magazines."

The two remaining Republican candidates for the seat, David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, have run on staunch support for firearms access, but each failed to detail their positions when asked by NBC10 this week.

Both tweeted condolences following Tuesday's carnage, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed. It's the second-deadliest shooting at an elementary, middle, or high school on record in the U.S. 

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"It doesn't make sense." 

St. Louis cardiologist Anthony Pearson on how U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman's campaign is describing his treatment for a recent stroke
Lilies of the valley, via Nora O. Have a cool pic to share? Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
NO SHOW: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) is refusing to sit for a deposition in front of the congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack, per ABC27. Perry aided former President Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election and reportedly encouraged an idea to send Trump supporters to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Perry says the panel is illegitimate and that its subpoena of him was improperly served.

TEST STRIPS: A bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips in Pennsylvania passed out of committee this week and is headed to the full state House for a vote. A new report from the state attorney general's office says seizures of the powerful opioid are surging here, The Inquirer reports. Test strips help identify its presence in any number of drugs, something advocates say could stem a rising tide of related overdoses.

RECOUNT II: Another recount from last week's primary is possible. While a legally mandated one is happening in the GOP U.S. Senate primary between David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, state Sen. Pat Browne (R., Lehigh) might request another in the extremely narrow race for his seat. Browne, a longtime GOP incumbent, is trailing his primary challenger, Jarrett Cole, by 19 votes, per Capital-Star.

POT ARRESTS: Six years after Pittsburgh decriminalized low-level cannabis possession, Pittsburghers are still being charged, especially if they're Black, an audit released by the city's controller and Citizen Police Review Board found. WESA reports the 2016 decriminalization law lets police issue a citation, rather than a more serious criminal charge. Eighty-five percent of people charged with the latter were Black. 

FAIRE FUNDS: The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire has been awarded $3.7 million in pandemic relief money by the U.S. Small Business Administration after the Faire sued, saying it was unfairly passed over for such a grant — the kind meant to help arts organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, LNP reports. With the lawsuit paused, the SBA awarded the money. The lawsuit is still open.
BARRED ENTRY: At least 29 Pennsylvanians are among the nearly 1,000 Americans now banned from entering Russia, Axios reports. They include most of the state's congressional delegation, a federal judge, a former U.S. attorney from Pittsburgh, and a retired county judge from York.

COLD CASE: State Police say they solved a 42-year-old cold case in Mercer County with DNA testing. Officials say 18-year-old Edwin Rodriguez was headed from Chicago to Florida when he was killed by his traveling companion and left near I-80 in Wolf Creek Township, WTAE reports.

HIGH HOLIDAY: The average price of gasoline in Pennsylvania is ~$4.76 headed into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to AAA. WNEP reports some folks are planning staycations instead.

MILK MACHINE: A high-tech baby formula factory has come to Reading with help from $1.75 million in state grants. But Lancaster Farming has questions about its promise to boost the state's dairy industry.

SAFETY CHECK: Bears are on the move in Pennsylvania, as this video from Columbia County proves, which means it's a good time to reup The New York Times' quiz on bear behavior and how to avoid a bear attack.
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: Onomatopoeia
Yesterday's answer: Hiccups

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Craig W., Kevin M., Vicki U., Mike B., Elvino M., Suzanne O., Wendy A., Doris T., Susan D., Hugh M., Barbara F., Susan R., Don H., Eddy Z., David S., John W., Bruce B., Beth T., Elaine C., Marty M., Susan N.-Z., Kimberly B., Judith D., Karen W., Elizabeth W., Jim A., Jodi R., James B., Mick M., Sheryl V., Irene R., Rosa E., Kim C., Patricia R., Tish M., Steve D., Dianne K., Becca S., Becky C., Bruce B., Deborah S., Sharon P., George S., Bill S., David W., Ted W., Daniel M., Kimberly D., Alissa H., Kimberly S., Eugene M., Barbara J., and Starr B.
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