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GOP questions PA House remote voting rule

Plus, the first interview with a Pa. teacher locked up in Russia.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Today: Remote votes, prison interview, no nutrition, grants given, baby boosters, deficit report, and a Pa. representative remembered.
In April, while state Rep. Kevin Boyle (D., Philadelphia) was absent from the Pennsylvania House due to an arrest warrant, he voted by designation on multiple bills.
This virtual voting was allowed under current state House rules, which date back to March 2020 when the then-GOP-controlled chamber adopted the practice to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Republican leaders strongly objected to their Democratic counterparts voting on Boyle’s behalf while he was absent. 
Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) argued that with Boyle’s location uncertain, bills that passed by only one vote could be subject to legal challenges and that Democrats had made a “results-oriented decision,” not a procedurally sound one.
The warrant was revoked less than a week after it was issued, but the issue highlights longstanding friction over remote voting. 

Read Spotlight PA's full report: The COVID pandemic let Pa. House lawmakers vote remotely. The GOP says it’s time to restrict that rule.

“I’m not trying to fault anybody here. Just, please, bring me home.”
Oakmont teacher Marc Fogel discussing his health and hope of returning home from a Russian prison; he’s been detained since 2021.
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A sunset in Gettysburg, via Jane L. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.
AGENCY ACCESS: Pennsylvania lawmakers want the Department of Aging to disclose more details from its investigations of complaints about the abuse or neglect of older adults, the AP reports. The push follows a steep rise in the deaths of older adults who were the subject of complaints. 
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.
UNHEALTHY EATING: The food bill for Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections has fallen since the 1990s, but a report released this month found the dip stems from feeding poor-quality food to inmates, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. The agency challenged the findings, saying only three of its 24 institutions were surveyed. 
Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.
GRANTS AWARDED: The state’s Department of Environmental Protection is giving nearly $1 million to 56 programs across the state that promote environmental education and stewardship, StateImpact reports. This year’s projects range from running summer camps to helping people protect their homes from stormwater. See the full list of grants.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
PRONATALISTS PROFILED: The Guardian profiles Valley Forge residents Simone and Malcolm Collins, leading figures in the pronatalism movement. The right-leaning movement advocates for people to have more children to counter declining birth rates, and is backed by big names in tech such as Elon Musk and Sam Bankman-Fried. Simone Collins is currently running for Pennsylvania House District 150.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.
DEFICIT WATCH: Lancaster city will face a $10 million deficit next year if there are no changes to its revenue or expenses, LancasterOnline | LNP reports. A financial consultant said the deficit could widen if the city does not increase property taxes, cut staff, or adopt a home charter rule. Rising health care costs and the loss of federal funding are also factors. 
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🤔 NEXT QUESTION: Are you on top of the news? Prove it with the latest edition of the Great PA News Quiz: A new state slogan, northern exposure, budget-breakers, and the NFL Draft.
FAMILY REUNION: A Somerset County man reunited with his family at the Pittsburgh International Airport Friday after he was detained in Turks and Caicos for carrying ammunition in his luggage, TribLIVE reports. 
ROEBUCK OBIT: An Inquirer obituary of the late state Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr. recounts his support for public education and his love of teaching and Philly sports. 
‘POSTMORTEM PROJECT’: The Mütter Museum’s new exhibit prompts patrons to weigh in on how the institution uses human remains and other sensitive materials.  
UNDERGROUND CONNECTIONS: The historical Baker Mansion in Altoona has a new exhibit detailing Blair County’s ties to the Underground Railroad
BOOZY HISTORY: WPSU has launched Journeys with Local Historia, a new series exploring Pennsylvania’s history. Its first episode highlights the state’s beer history and culture.
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